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worx
02-04-2009, 09:40 PM
I have just recently been able to get my pics to show up for night shots. But now they turn out grainy. How can I resolve this?

Thanks for the help,

TXNSLighting
02-04-2009, 11:37 PM
Buy a good camera! Ha! I have a canon something, and i set it on custom. That always does the clearest pics. nightshot sucks and is very grainy.

The Lighting Geek
02-05-2009, 12:13 AM
You probably have the speed too high. Try ISO400 or 800. the higher the number the grainier it will be. It also means a longer exposure, so you will definitely need a good sturdy tripod and a timer or cable release to stop vibration when you shoot. Also check your quality setting, make it is the highest or best setting.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-05-2009, 12:14 AM
Check your ISO settings. If it is much over 800 when you shoot night shots the photos will be grainy.

Check your image quality settings. Make sure you are using the full image size at the highest resolution.

Why type of camera are you using?

The Lighting Geek
02-05-2009, 12:20 AM
too funny James. Slow on the draw there buddy? LOL

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-05-2009, 12:22 AM
Ya, well I am on vacation Tommy... so I have an excuse!

White Gardens
02-05-2009, 12:59 AM
You probably have the speed too high. Try ISO400 or 800. the higher the number the grainier it will be. It also means a longer exposure, so you will definitely need a good sturdy tripod and a timer or cable release to stop vibration when you shoot. Also check your quality setting, make it is the highest or best setting.


Exactly. A tripod will take care of most of it.

At night turn your flash off, run the longest exposure at night, and don't be surprised if it takes 10 -15 seconds for the picture to take.

worx
02-05-2009, 08:01 AM
Thanks for the help fella's. The camera is a Cannon Powershot S5. It's not an expensive camera but I thought it would be a great starting point to learn from. I will take some more pics tonight adjusting the ISO and picture quality. I have a tripod, not the most expensive, but a tripod none the less.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-05-2009, 08:21 AM
See if your camera has a timer setting... that way once you have it set on the tripod, you hit the button and there will be a 10 second (or so) delay between the time you touch the button and the moment the picture is taken. this will eliminate any camera shake from pressing the button.

Also, see if your camera has manual settings. ( I dont think the S5 does) If so, you want to open the lens up (low apeture) and set the exposure time for 8 - 11 seconds or so. (depends on the optics of your lens but this is a good starting point)

I regularly take 3 to 5 exposures of the exact same image using different settings. Then you can either pick the best of the group later, or get into bracketing your image in Photoshop when your processing skills develop.

Im sure Steve Parrot (CAST) could give you better directions then I can...

You might want to consider upgrading your camera to a Canon G10 at least. For a bit more go to the Canon Rebel which is a pretty decent Digi-SLR.

Regards.

worx
02-05-2009, 08:33 AM
Thank's James, yes the camera has a timer and I do use it. I will try this again tonight and see what happens.

atasteofnature
02-05-2009, 09:10 AM
for someone who is not a lighting person and would like to get into it, i like your pic, subside the grainy part and i can't wait to see the new ones.

TXNSLighting
02-05-2009, 10:41 AM
Thats the exact camera i use. Just set it to "C" which is custom on your dial, and put it on a tripod, and throw the timer on. It will take some pretty good pics.

DUSTYCEDAR
02-05-2009, 10:45 AM
how did it turn out for ya?

JoeyD
02-05-2009, 11:08 AM
there are also remotes to help with not shking the camera when pushing the button.....

worx
02-05-2009, 07:18 PM
I'm afraid this saga will have to continue tomorrow......my batteries are dead and I don't have any more in the house. I was able to get a couple shots,...but nothing better yet. As soon as I finish a couple dozen oysters tomorrow night I'll get started.

SamIV
02-07-2009, 09:36 PM
Oysters again. Give your wife a break man.

About your camera, you will never be able to get a quality photo with an inexpensive point and shoot. The shots will come out ok, but are you looking for just ok. Nothing you should want to show clients. You need to get yourself a DSLR and learn to shoot in RAW. With all the sales going on you can pick up a 6 to 8 mp with a kit lens for under 400 bucks. This is a great place to start.

Photo attached taken with a equipment under 400 bucks. Of course you can spend more(save some of your liquid refreshment money) and get better shots.

Burt Wilson
Accent Outdoor Lighting

TXNSLighting
02-08-2009, 01:06 AM
now thats a great looking picture!!

NightLightingFX
02-08-2009, 02:02 PM
About your camera, you will never be able to get a quality photo with an inexpensive point and shoot. The shots will come out ok, but are you looking for just ok. Nothing you should want to show clients. You need to get yourself a DSLR and learn to shoot in RAW.

Burt,
I think your statement about NEVER being able to do a quality photo with an inexpensive point and shoot. And that one NEEDS to shoot in RAW. Are a little harsh.

You can diffinatly get some quality pictures with a point and shoot. (I am not sure what classifies "inexpensive"). 80% of my pictures on my website are from a simple point and shoot. And I am VERY proud to show them to my clients. And I have never shoot in RAW format.

Once you start getting some experience shooting night time photos you will start to understand some limitations with a point and shoot. I have found that a DSLR camera enables me to get a picture that more accuratly diplicts what the scene looks like in real life.

I do agree with Burt get yourself a DSLR ASAP, but on the other hand you CAN get some REALLY good shots with a point and shoot and a CHEAP tripod. I spent something like $30 for a tripod it works GREAT!
~Ned

The Lighting Geek
02-08-2009, 03:01 PM
I think you can get a decent shot out of a point and shoot. You will find at some point as you grow in skill that will migrate to DSLR. I currently shoot in raw because you can make finer adjustments and corrections. I am going to get a Nikon D300 body this year. I already use Nikon lenses and flash. You will find that you cannot use a cheap tripod with a 200mm lens. I am experimenting now with remote flash units to help pick up the color of the landscape. Nothing substitutes for practice. Because of my experience, I could get a point and shoot to work, but the end result would not be the same.

MAGLIGHTING
02-08-2009, 04:32 PM
Great photos are a crucial element of finding success in this business. Good photography sells jobs. You have about 15 minutes per evening where your shots will come out the best. Twilight when the sky is a beautiful shade of blue. A minimum 8 megapixel full frame DSLR digital camera with a good lens. tri pod and cable release (remote control) a must.

You will be shooting time exposure to capture your lighting project. It takes experimentation with your camera and multiple shots of the same scene with different f stops and exposure time.

Try putting your camera into B or BULB betting. This will give you complete control over exposure time. Manually focus. Set the F stop for 8 and start shooting when the sky is blue. The higher the F stop setting the smaller the aperature will be and the greater depth of field you will have. You will also need to increase your exposure time as you increase the F stop as you are actually making the aperature smaller thus allowing less light into the sensor. The earlier in your session the less time you'll hold the shutter open and as it gets darker hold the shutter open longer . It really is trial and error. Every shoot will be different as the brightness differs and atmospheric conditions differ etc.

Don't go cheap on the camera equipment, get the best you can afford. It is an investment in your business. The photo below was taken with a 12.8 megapixel Canon 5D with a Pro lens

Lite4
02-08-2009, 04:36 PM
Great info and a beautifully shot pic. Thanks Mike

MAGLIGHTING
02-08-2009, 04:37 PM
Here's another shot

MAGLIGHTING
02-08-2009, 04:38 PM
Great info and a beautifully shot pic. Thanks Mike

Thank you Tim.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-08-2009, 04:38 PM
Act II, Scene I: Let the entertainment begin!

Lite4
02-08-2009, 04:41 PM
Act II, Scene I: Let the entertainment begin!

Oh give me a break, leave it alone.

Lite4
02-08-2009, 04:42 PM
Here's another shot

Good pic, nice job on the downlights. Very hard to pic out their location in the trees.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-08-2009, 04:47 PM
Oh give me a break, leave it alone.

Tim c'mon now, have a bit of a sense of humour! Life is too short not to laugh now and then. :)

Have a great day.

MAGLIGHTING
02-08-2009, 04:54 PM
A good high megapixel camera will pick up all the detail. Notice the shadow and texture on the boulder

SamIV
02-08-2009, 06:14 PM
Hey Ned, I think Steve knows my words were not meant to be harsh but words here are not always as they seem. Sorry to ruffle your freathers. Maybe I have never used the right point and shoot. Also if you notice what format Mike and Tommy shoot in -RAW. Gives you much more flexibility in post processing.

Hey Steve, is your wife buying those oysters for you?

Burt Wilson
Accent Outdoor Lighting

irrig8r
02-08-2009, 06:32 PM
Nice shots Mike. How do they relate to what your eye actually sees on the jobsite?

In other words, do high resolution images like the last one grab the real scene, or do they pick up more than what the eye does?

Oh, and welcome back.

MAGLIGHTING
02-08-2009, 07:16 PM
Nice shots Mike. How do they relate to what your eye actually sees on the jobsite?

In other words, do high resolution images like the last one grab the real scene, or do they pick up more than what the eye does?

Oh, and welcome back.

Probably 95% of the shots I take are not representative of what the eye actually sees on the project site. I dispose of those shots. Either way over exposed or under exposed, out of focus, poor composition, etc. I'm not a pro photographer and I've found that shooting nighttime photos of landscape lighting is not an exact science.

The ones I have posted are a very good representation of what exists at the project. I've been shooting my work for 15 years and I still have things to learn about it.

I do not shoot in Raw, all JPEG at the highest resolution. I don't know enough about photo shop to deal with RAW shots.

Someone who is an expert with photo shop can make a good photo look great. I've seen what can be done.

I do believe it is unethical to touch up shots to the point that they are not an actual representation of what exists on your jobsite. I do see no wrong when hot spots that appear in a photo are removed or toned down if they do not actually exist in the project. Since I do not command photo shop skills to work on hot spots I have had to refine and improve my photography skills to avoid having them appear on the file thus eliminating any need to retouch. I have on certain files sharpened and reduced overall brightness so it is an accurate representation of what actually exists. That is easy and anyone can do.

Any attempt I've ever made to reduce hot spots on certain objects has resulted in a degradation of the original file. I have no clue. If I did I'd have alot more keepers.

MAGLIGHTING
02-08-2009, 07:37 PM
This is a good example of an overall good photo except for the hot spot on the 2 boulders directly under the fixture. The hot spot does not exist in the project as pronounced as it appears in the photo. I'm unable to "doctor" it to make it a great photo. Too bad for me

NightLightingFX
02-08-2009, 07:42 PM
Hey Ned, I think Steve knows my words were not meant to be harsh but words here are not always as they seem. Sorry to ruffle your freathers. Maybe I have never used the right point and shoot. Also if you notice what format Mike and Tommy shoot in -RAW. Gives you much more flexibility in post processing.

Hey Steve, is your wife buying those oysters for you?

Burt Wilson
Accent Outdoor Lighting

Burt, no offense taken. I just think you don't need to overwhelm someone who is just starting out. I believe a DSLR is the way to go, but I also believe it is possible to get some very good night lighting pictures with a point and shoot. If a point and shoot is all that someone has let them experiment with what they've got.

There is no reason to give someone the impression that they are condemed to crapy pics when that is not the case. And then get them all fired up to spend a small fortune only to get more frustrated on how to work a DSLR. DSLR's aren't easy to use. Maybe I am a dumb a$$, but I couldn't figure out how to work my DSLR. I had to join a local photography club. It was only when we went on nighttime field trip that I finally figured out how to use a DSLR at night.

RAW would be nice but don't you need to have expensive software to run it? not to mention a higher level of tech. knowledge. Obviously for me getting involved with RAW will be my next progression. But for someone just starting out, a DSLR and RAW is kind of a lot to swallow.
~Ned

MAGLIGHTING
02-08-2009, 07:47 PM
Another example of an otherwise great shot ruined by a breeze that moved the birch leaves in the upper right corner resulting in a blur. The moon the sun and the starts must sometimes align to get great shots. Proof that just one little piece of the puzzle askew can foul things up.

NightLightingFX
02-08-2009, 07:50 PM
Mike,
You probably know more about RAW than I do. But my understanding of one advantages you have with RAW, that doesn't have to do with unethical touch ups is that it is like going back to the actual photo shoot and changing the settings such as F stop Apature and etc. right from your computer. I think that would be helpful but awfully sophisticated for me right now.
~Ned

MAGLIGHTING
02-08-2009, 07:59 PM
Ned

I don't know a thing about RAW, If it's true what you say then yes that would be great. Going out to shoot a project at night is costly when you come home and find out your shots aren't as good as you thought. And that happens . To clarify , If someone is accurately depicting what is truly on the site and not what the designer wishes was there, by way of software manipulation, then I have no problem with it. Making digital enhancements to mislead and deceive I have a problem with.

The Lighting Geek
02-08-2009, 08:00 PM
Those are good insights Mike, and some nice pics.

MAGLIGHTING
02-08-2009, 08:06 PM
Thanks Tommy

NightLightingFX
02-08-2009, 08:14 PM
I don't think one should abuse power of photo manipulation. But I personally don't think there is no harm in using photo shop to delete or modify background light polution you had nothing to do with in order to show case your lighting portrait. Or if you have an ugly structure in the background that just makes the scene look ugly. With photoshop you can get rid of ugly things in your picture that have nothing to do with your lighting talent. That way you are able to better showcase your lighting talent.
~Ned

MAGLIGHTING
02-08-2009, 08:17 PM
I don't think one should abuse power of photo manipulation. But I personally don't think there is no harm in using photo shop to delete or modify background light polution you had nothing to do with in order to show case your lighting portrait. Or if you have an ugly structure in the background that just makes the scene look ugly. With photoshop you can get rid of ugly things in your picture that have nothing to do with your lighting talent. That way you are able to better showcase your lighting talent.
~Ned

Indeed. Agreed.

NightLightingFX
02-08-2009, 08:38 PM
Glad to see Mike G back:)

Pro-Scapes
02-08-2009, 08:42 PM
Oysters again. Give your wife a break man.

About your camera, you will never be able to get a quality photo with an inexpensive point and shoot. The shots will come out ok, but are you looking for just ok. Nothing you should want to show clients. You need to get yourself a DSLR and learn to shoot in RAW. With all the sales going on you can pick up a 6 to 8 mp with a kit lens for under 400 bucks. This is a great place to start.

Photo attached taken with a equipment under 400 bucks. Of course you can spend more(save some of your liquid refreshment money) and get better shots.

Burt Wilson
Accent Outdoor Lighting

Why do I have the funny feeling I been there ? That job took forever.

MAGLIGHTING
02-08-2009, 09:40 PM
Glad to see Mike G back:)

Thank you Ned. Nice of you to say.

irrig8r
02-08-2009, 09:41 PM
Those are good insights Mike, and some nice pics.

I agree with you Tommy. I think Mike has some great insights.

MAGLIGHTING
02-08-2009, 09:53 PM
Thank you Gregg. Sorry to hear about your father.

Now if someone would please stop deleting my avatar and signature I'd really appreciate it. Thank you.

SamIV
02-08-2009, 11:17 PM
The pic I posted was the first Job Billy worked with me on. He has come a long way in a very short time. Now I help him.

RAW gives you more ability to recreate what you actually see. As Mike states, most of your shots are not a true representation of what you see. Hot spots appear where they really are not, and noise which we refer to as being grainy. I do very little post processing due to my limited knowledge.

In RAW I adjust curves, sensitivity, contrast, and sometimes color temperature but not all on very shot. Then it is converted to a JPEG and then I will sharpen just a bit if it needs it. That's basically it. I don't know the tricks to put things there that were not there to begin with. I do know how to remove things that are not supposed to be there. I have removed stop signs, cars, and street lights. Will try layering as Steve from Cast suggests. It's above my learning curve for now though.

My RAW program came with my camera and has been updated with free downloads. There are free RAW processing programs out there to be had. Do see a noise reduction program in my future.

Burt Wilson
Accent Outdoor Lighting

MAGLIGHTING
02-08-2009, 11:41 PM
Having the ability to use Software programs is great. Excellent shots are possible without the use of them but those shots are rare and the learning curve and time invested is huge. Maybe 1 , 2 or 3 great shots that would require no assistance per session if you're real lucky. Sometimes none. If software can assist in recreating what is actually there than by all means use it. We are very fortunate to now have such technology. I can remember when I first started shooting my jobs before digital. It was all print or slide film. You were better off with slide film because your results were not open to the interpretation of the guy who was printing your film on paper. Slide film has little latitude in processing. Good bad or indifferent, basically what you shot was what you got without the processing bias. You could then have your slides printed on paper albeit a bit more expensive of a process.

klkanders
02-08-2009, 11:56 PM
Nice to see you back also Mike!
Lots of good info here most of us can use. This is one topic I hope gets discussed often.

Keith

MAGLIGHTING
02-09-2009, 12:19 AM
Good deal Kieth, Thanks

irrig8r
02-09-2009, 12:34 AM
Thank you Gregg. Sorry to hear about your father.



Thanks Mike.

Pro-Scapes
02-09-2009, 06:53 AM
I have the same pentax camera Burt has. I am now looking at a nikon d60 at sames for about 529 with the lens.

We definatly need to work with photos altho I personally would rather find a part time photographer or hobbist locally to shoot my jobs for a few hundred bucks. When I shoot my jobs they usually come out yellowish. I know I can somehow adjust the white balance for this but i have not played with it enough to master it yet.

worx
02-09-2009, 08:30 AM
Mike G. I have heard alot about you and it's great to see you back!
Burt I know exactly what you talking about and no hurt feelings here. I will fiddle with this camera for a while then graduate to the next level. And yes she did by the oysters, I ain't got no money!!! But not to be out done my cousin bought 50lbs that we enjoyed Saturday night!!!!!! MMMM, MMMMM, Good! As good as they were I'll never know if they can compete with your private stock.....?

TXNSLighting
02-09-2009, 10:58 AM
Not sure why my post got deleted, but welcome back Mike!

Lite4
02-09-2009, 11:13 AM
Thanks for the insite Mike. It is nice to have you back and contributing to this site again.
As far as the touch ups go, I have a program that came with my Nikon for minor touch ups, such as sharpening, D-lighting, brightness etc.. nothing too fancy. I didn't want to spring for the whole photoshop program but I did spent about 120 bucks on the photoshop elements program. I was told this program is fairly powerful and will do quite a lot but I have yet to really jump into it and get my hands dirty. Is anyone else familiar with it? Does it have the capabilities necessary to correct some photographic deficiencies like the regular photoshop does or did I waste my money?

The Lighting Geek
02-09-2009, 11:51 AM
Tim, I use Photoshop Elements and it serves me well. I am in agreement with Mike concerning altering vs minor corrections. I use the software to correct what I can't see in the camera monitor and still capture exactly what the job looks like. You can soften some hot spots, sharpen, adjust brightness and contrast, plus more.

Lite4
02-09-2009, 03:31 PM
What I bought it for was to layer multiple exposures. For example, Mike posted that photo with the hot spot on the boulders, we all know that is not representitive of what it really looked like. I am hoping to swap "rocks" or whatever is hot, from one exposure where they were not "hot" and replace them with the ones that are to get a more accurate look. I have gotten my skills somewhat honed on night photography, but nothing ever captures it like the human eye. So, can elements do layering? I guess I should read the owners manual and see for myself.

NightLightingFX
02-09-2009, 06:40 PM
Tommy & Tim,
I am not sure I agree with you guys. You can make hot spots disappear by readjusting your lights or by dialing in on the right DSLR settings. If you can't tame down the hot spots then it is too hot - The camera doesn't lie. It is the human eye that is not interpreting the scene properly. I think by photo shopping hot spots it isn't a true representation of what you as an outdoor lighting artisit really did.

I am not judging anyone who does it. If you create a great marketing piece with photoshopped pictures, you aren't unethically representing something your customer will be disappointed in - If you are a quality outdoor lighting professional you will easily make your customers more than happy.

However, I think it is cheating if you enter a picture in a contest without disclosing any photoshop work done.

Tom Williams should jump in an elaborate more on this topic. He is the one who changed my mind on this topic. I use to be the first one to complain that it is the cameras fault that it is too hot, and not mine as a designer. He pushed me hard on a project I was asking his advice on. He was right, the camera doesn't lie. After detailed readjustments, the scene wasn't too hot on the camera and in real life the scene looked better. I am sorry but when I hear someone complain about a picture looking too hot than it really is. It is because they didn't have the right DSLR settings and/or they didn't have the fixtures adjusted perfect. OK you guys can PILE-ON me now
~Ned

MAGLIGHTING
02-09-2009, 07:15 PM
Tommy & Tim,
I am not sure I agree with you guys. You can make hot spots disappear by readjusting your lights or by dialing in on the right DSLR settings. If you can't tame down the hot spots then it is too hot - The camera doesn't lie. It is the human eye that is not interpreting the scene properly. I think by photo shopping hot spots it isn't a true representation of what you as an outdoor lighting artisit really did.

I am not judging anyone who does it. If you create a great marketing piece with photoshopped pictures, you aren't unethically representing something your customer will be disappointed in - If you are a quality outdoor lighting professional you will easily make your customers more than happy.

However, I think it is cheating if you enter a picture in a contest without disclosing any photoshop work done
Tom Williams should jump in an elaborate more on this topic. He is the one who changed my mind on this topic. I use to be the first one to complain that it is the cameras fault that it is too hot, and not mine as a designer. He pushed me hard on a project I was asking his advice on. He was right, the camera doesn't lie. After detailed readjustments, the scene wasn't too hot on the camera and in real life the scene looked better. I am sorry but when I hear someone complain about a picture looking too hot than it really is. It is because they didn't have the right DSLR settings and/or they didn't have the fixtures adjusted perfect. OK you guys can PILE-ON me now
~Ned


No need to pile on just a friendly disagree. Every situation is unique and different and it is illadvised to assume and make a blanket statement such as this " I am sorry but when I hear someone complain about a picture looking too hot than it really is."

In the case of the boulder pic I posted- the fixture that created the hot spot in the photo, which was not actually there ,was a non directional fixture. No way the boulder under the fixture is anywhere near as bright as camera recorded. The fixture provides a very pleasing wide diffuse spread of light. I simply over exposed the shot. My error in holding the shutter open too long plain and simple. Pro's would call this area of over exposure "blown out".

Also, not everyones computer screens are the same. Depending upon the brightness levels set, brand etc. Then you have the personal level of perception. What may be too bright to you may be just right for someone else and vice versa. We are talking about a number of factors here not just what meets the eye so to speak.

"The camera doesn't lie"?

Try leaving the cap on your lens and take a few shots and tell me if you still feel the same. It's not always the camera but sometimes the person standing behind it that's at fault. I admit I'm not a pro when it comes to photography. But I still do well enough to get my point across to those considering using me.

Lite4
02-09-2009, 07:19 PM
Ok Ned, I will pile on a little bit. The camera will and does lie, quite often in fact. It is not the cameras fault though, simply the inexperience of the operator getting the right settings and maybe some inferior equipment. Now, when you say if the spot is too hot on camera go and simply readjust the lights so there isn't one. Isn't this a false representation of your work also since you will be moving the light for the picture (changing it's real look) and then putting it back when your done? What's the difference? I am simply saying that when you go out and snap a bunch of pics at different exposures, you may not immediately be able to tell exactly what you have by looking at the tiny little screen on the back of the camera. Rather than waste time by having to repeatedly go back and keep taking the same shots under possibly different light and environmental conditions, you can simply fix that photo the way it really looks by tweeking it a bit. I am not saying anything drastic, it should still look like it does standing there viewing it in person. I guess we may just disagree on this, but thats ok. Too each his own.

The Lighting Geek
02-09-2009, 07:30 PM
I would agree with the premise that you can get good enough with a good camera to get a perfect shot. I believe you will take a lifetime to do that and may never get the perfect shot. I only use software to adjust brightness, contrast, color correction and some times reducing a hot spot. Hot spots can be adjusted out as you said. It is often difficult to know if you have the shot you want until after you get home and see it on a monitor. I usually shoot 100-150 shots per episode using different settings to minimize problems. What I want to see in my pics maybe different from others. I want it perfect. And what I think is perfect maybe different than someone else. I have invested quite a bit in equipment in search the perfect shot. As my skill level increases, I get the equipment necessary. I am fascinated with how the eye works and how that affects my photography.

I also believe the context of this discussion as I understood it is to expedite the process for someone while improving their skill set without compromising the integrity of the shot itself. I see no problem in making minor adjustments as long as it is it does not change what you would see if you saw it in person. There is a big difference between adjusting and altering.

I would have no problem taking you to see my jobs anytime to compare them to my photos. I believe that you would then tell me the photos don't do the job justice.

Lite4
02-09-2009, 07:37 PM
Your right Tommy. No matter how well you take picture, it is never like experiencing it first hand. I seem to remember some pics of the ocean and grand canyon that I took kind of being like that.

Pro-Scapes
02-09-2009, 07:38 PM
No need to pile on just a friendly disagree. Every situation is unique and different and it is illadvised to assume and make a blanket statement such as this " I am sorry but when I hear someone complain about a picture looking too hot than it really is."

In the case of the boulder pic I posted- the fixture that created the hot spot in the photo, which was not actually there ,was a non directional fixture. No way the boulder under the fixture is anywhere near as bright as camera recorded. The fixture provides a very pleasing wide diffuse spread of light. I simply over exposed the shot. My error in holding the shutter open too long plain and simple. Pro's would call this area of over exposure "blown out".

Also, not everyones computer screens are the same. Depending upon the brightness levels set, brand etc. Then you have the personal level of perception. What may be too bright to you may be just right for someone else and vice versa. We are talking about a number of factors here not just what meets the eye so to speak.

"The camera doesn't lie"?

Try leaving the cap on your lens and take a few shots and tell me if you still feel the same. It's not always the camera but sometimes the person standing behind it that's at fault. I admit I'm not a pro when it comes to photography. But I still do well enough to get my point across to those considering using me.


I gotta agree with Mike. I think I might be the only other one in the country using that pathlight right now and there is no way that boulder is that hot even if he put a 50w lamp in it. I real sure he armed it with a 20w max.

I have taken a ton of pics which are "blown out" and way hotter than the actual scene. Likewise I have taken some photos that you can barley see the home when it is in fact clearly defined in real life. I guess its true the camera doesnt lie. Its the user behind the camera telling it to do something wrong and the camera does it according to the user input. If your instructions the camera are wrong you can be sure the results will not be correct.

worx
02-09-2009, 07:54 PM
I just took this a few minutes ago, ISO 100. It does look a lot hotter than it actually is. Any suggestions?

MAGLIGHTING
02-09-2009, 07:59 PM
Ok Ned, I will pile on a little bit. The camera will and does lie, quite often in fact. It is not the cameras fault though, simply the inexperience of the operator getting the right settings and maybe some inferior equipment. Now, when you say if the spot is too hot on camera go and simply readjust the lights so there isn't one. Isn't this a false representation of your work also since you will be moving the light for the picture (changing it's real look) and then putting it back when your done? What's the difference? I am simply saying that when you go out and snap a bunch of pics at different exposures, you may not immediately be able to tell exactly what you have by looking at the tiny little screen on the back of the camera. Rather than waste time by having to repeatedly go back and keep taking the same shots under possibly different light and environmental conditions, you can simply fix that photo the way it really looks by tweeking it a bit. I am not saying anything drastic, it should still look like it does standing there viewing it in person. I guess we may just disagree on this, but thats ok. Too each his own.

I agree Tim. I think it is well worth it to invest in excellent equipment and study and practice nighttime photography. I can honestly tell you that I've sold multiple millions of dollars of design build projects just off the strength of project documentation and reputation. It sure beats the heck out of going out to demo fixtures after dark for a homeowner who has her doubts. I'm not knocking the demo, it certainly has its place and has been proven to be a valuable sales tool but it's so much nicer to not have to jockey lights around for someone who might not buy or even worse buy from someone else.

Photo contests advertised as design contests have become just that photo contests. Especially with the availability of powerful photo manipulation software. From photos it is not always fool proof to judge superior design abilities when compared to others. Photos are limited to the quality of the camera, the photographer and or the abilty of someone possibly using photo software. Photos only capture a small part of a whole project.

A site walk of each property on the same evening is the only accurate way to judge this. Obviously impossible.

Consider this, I publish a photo calendar every year. Every year I choose 13 of the best photos of my work taken of the past year's projects. Rarely do these photos represent the best designs I've done for that particular year. The photos are primarily chosen based upon the quality of the photo and acurate depiction of the scene. Not the project itself. Sometimes for whatever reason the photos of more elaborate and challenging projects do not come out as good as simpler ones. That's just the way it is.

Excellent photography as well as demo's appeal to the owners emotional being. This is where sales are made. Prospects are not looking for quality design per se when viewing them. They do know when something looks good to them or it doesn't. This is what your photos should ultimately achieve.

MAGLIGHTING
02-09-2009, 08:18 PM
I just took this a few minutes ago, ISO 100. It does look a lot hotter than it actually is. Any suggestions?

Hello Steve, thanks for the welcoming sentiments. Please only believe a fraction of what you've heard though. As for your photo it is not really "hot". A bit on the trunk but not bad. It just doesn't pop though. I know there are some pundits who claim it's OK to shoot after the magic hour (actually 15 minutes on most evenings that the sky is a beautiful shade of blue) but to me without that beautiful blue sky the photo just doesn't have that contrast or pizazz and lacks in color saturation .

I am so enamored by that beautiful magic hour blue that I use it as my primary company color (see logo above). It may be just a personal preference for me but I believe it goes beyond that. It is said that deep rich blue color evokes emotion. I believe there is truth to that and like I said in my previous post emotion sells lighting projects. Try shooting a bit earlier.

MAGLIGHTING
02-09-2009, 08:26 PM
Not sure why my post got deleted, but welcome back Mike!

Thank you Ryan

Perhaps the same person who deleted your post deleted my signature and avatar ?

Lite4
02-09-2009, 08:42 PM
Thanks Mike,
The more I do this the less demoing I seem to have to do which is just fine with me. A great portfolio, good references, a good knowledge of the craft and a super enthusiastic and postitive attitude will always win out in the sale. A customer always wants to do business with someone who is not only excited about what they do, but one who makes them feel completly comfortable and at ease with putting the project in your expert hands. I know that excellent photographs, a first class photo book (Thanks Tommy), and quality DVD have made all the difference for me. Thankfully I am starting to get some new people to show them to now. 3 calls this week for new jobs, wahooo!

worx
02-09-2009, 08:51 PM
Hey Mike I only believe the "good" fraction.... I actually started at the 15 minute window, but it was dark by the time I figured it out. I'll try again tomorrow.

MAGLIGHTING
02-09-2009, 08:52 PM
Thanks Mike,
The more I do this the less demoing I seem to have to do which is just fine with me. A great portfolio, good references, a good knowledge of the craft and a super enthusiastic and postitive attitude will always win out in the sale. A customer always wants to do business with someone who is not only excited about what they do, but one who makes them feel completly comfortable and at ease with putting the project in your expert hands. I know that excellent photographs, a first class photo book (Thanks Tommy), and quality DVD have made all the difference for me. Thankfully I am starting to get some new people to show them to now. 3 calls this week for new jobs, wahooo!

You are on your way. Just need to find your market or better yet your market find you. You've got very good design skills and photography. Good luck on those meetings. let us know how they go.

MAGLIGHTING
02-09-2009, 08:56 PM
Hey Mike I only believe the "good" fraction.... I actually started at the 15 minute window, but it was dark by the time I figured it out. I'll try again tomorrow.

Ok Steve. Post another shot tomorrow if you can. Try shooting over a 30 minute period. You'll find the early shots and late shots not as good as the middle shots. Papa bear, Momma bear, baby bear so to speak. It's Momma bear that will give you the keepers IMHO.

TXNSLighting
02-09-2009, 11:35 PM
Thank you Ryan

Perhaps the same person who deleted your post deleted my signature and avatar ?

Im guessin so. Mods get goofy sometimes.

NightLightingFX
02-10-2009, 12:46 PM
I might have thrown in a little attitude in my last post. I guess it was my way of trying to figure out what you guys were saying. One point is made about the ethics of changing photos. And then people are rationalizing that it is OK to photoshop hot spots?

First of all I just want to say I have done my share of photoshopping, so I am no angel in this area. The bottom line is when someone is sitting infront of their computer photoshopping a picture. They aren’t looking at the real scene and comparing it to their picture, in which they can match picture to the scene. Lets face it when you photoshop something you are going to enhance something to look its absolute best. Lets quit kidding are selves.

When you photoshop, at what point is the line of ethics crossed? I have Tommy’s opinion. Even if I did some photoshopping on a picture, if people where to look at the actual scene they wouldn’t be disappointed. None the less when I photoshop something, even when it has nothing to do with the scene like a stop sign in the background, I feel a little guilty.

As far as the comment, “The camera doesn’t lie,” it is true. Tom Williams sold me on that idea. And it has made me a better artist. You guys can accept it or not. If you accept it and take on the challenge, it will help improve your lighting skills. I have gotten to the point where I can tell if something is going to look hot on the camera or not - even if it might look aright in person. Usually if it is readjusted it looks better in person also. I am trying not preaching. I am just sharing with you what I have discovered.

For what it is worth, I have a Cannon Rebel, I set my ISO on 800. And then I will take a bunch of pictures of the exact scene (not moving my camera at all) I will just change my “TV” and my “AV.” Eventually I will find the right setting that creates a picture that matches the real scene. Where there is no hot spots that need to be photoshopped. I am no expert but this has been working pretty good for me.

Burt, you have inspired me. I am going to break into the software that came with my camera and start experimenting with RAW.

P.S. I am by no means trying to give Mike G advice on lighting. I am just sharing something I learned from another very highly respected lighting professional. I am really glad Mike is back on the forum he is a GREAT resource that we now have available at our finger tips.
~Ned

NightLightingFX
02-10-2009, 12:54 PM
Steve,
It looks like you have done a great job lighting the tree. I think the picture exposure of the tree looks great too. However, you might want to try turning your camera sideways and getting more of the tree in the picture. To me the tree looks kind of cut off at the bottom.
~Ned

Lite4
02-10-2009, 05:25 PM
Ned,
Let every man be fully persuaded in his own heart. If it bothers you personally that much about touching up photos, then by all means don't do it. As for me, I am going to continue to sharpen, enhance brightness and whatever other minor touchups need to be done for me to produce the best pics that will help convince my customer in the 30 seconds or so that they are looking at my work, that I am the best prospect for doing their work. And........... I will sleep like a newborn babe.

NightLightingFX
02-10-2009, 06:34 PM
I am not bothered AT ALL by anyone else touching up their photos (I am only concerned about my photos). I will continue to photoshop my picture to make them look the best they can. However, I am going to try to improve as a photographer, and as a lighting professional so that minimal touch ups are needed. I just found the ethics question that was possed, and everyones justification of doing touch-ups as not making a lot of sense to me?

How does one distinguish what is an ethical touch-up and what isn't especially when it comes to hot spots? Glare and different levels of light are crucial to a designers talent.

I am just posing these questions because the issue of ethics was mentioned and it got me thinking. I have come to the conclusion that if one does photoshoping on pictures, regardless of the degree. Then they have no right to pass ANY kind of judgement on someone else who does a lot of photoshopping. How do you determine what is an ethical touch up and what isn't? The way everyone is describing the challenges of night time photos - It all seems pretty subjective to me. "Long Live Photo Shop!"
~Ned:walking:

worx
02-10-2009, 07:28 PM
Ned there is a reason the tree looks cut off at the bottom. This tree is located on my property where it is not manicured and I only have demo lights out there and don't want them to be seen. I took some more photos tonight but, I feel I went backwards, so I don't want to post them.

I guess there's always tomorrow......

MAGLIGHTING
02-10-2009, 08:14 PM
I might have thrown in a little attitude in my last post. I guess it was my way of trying to figure out what you guys were saying. One point is made about the ethics of changing photos. And then people are rationalizing that it is OK to photoshop hot spots? You are pretty set in your ways and seem to not be open to others opinions who have been doing this a whole lot longer than you and that's fine. If you did keep an open mind you'd be better off for it. If someone is truly touching up to better represent what is really there than no harm no foul. The fact that you don't believe them is your issue

First of all I just want to say I have done my share of photoshopping, so I am no angel in this area. The bottom line is when someone is sitting infront of their computer photoshopping a picture. They aren’t looking at the real scene and comparing it to their picture, in which they can match picture to the scene. Lets face it when you photoshop something you are going to enhance something to look its absolute best. Lets quit kidding are selves. Perhaps that's what you are doing but don't imply that's what others are doing as well. It's pretty insulting to Tommy and tim and you have no facts to base this statement on.

When you photoshop, at what point is the line of ethics crossed? I have Tommy’s opinion. Even if I did some photoshopping on a picture, if people where to look at the actual scene they wouldn’t be disappointed. None the less when I photoshop something, even when it has nothing to do with the scene like a stop sign in the background, I feel a little guilty. That is your hangup . Obviously what you are doing behind the computer screen is making you feel that way. Perhaps you are over enhancing?

As far as the comment, “The camera doesn’t lie,” it is true. Tom Williams sold me on that idea. This totally makes no sense to me as I sat through a Tom Williams presentation last year and I've never seen more photo shop work done to photos ever. I mean no disrespect to Tom. They were made to look artistic perhaps sepia? The colors were colors I've never seen in nature. He was after a certain look but no way in the world any of those photos came directly from the camera without major photoshop work. I don't find anything unethical about that as even a layman could see these photos were retouched. No exaggeration these photos looked like an artists painting with a brush not anything reproduced from a camera. Again no disrespect for Tom as the work was good. And it has made me a better artist. You guys can accept it or not. If you accept it and take on the challenge, it will help improve your lighting skills. I have gotten to the point where I can tell if something is going to look hot on the camera or not - even if it might look aright in person. Usually if it is readjusted it looks better in person also. I am trying not preaching. I am just sharing with you what I have discovered. Again all your opinion, that's fine but we don't agree with it

For what it is worth, I have a Cannon Rebel, I set my ISO on 800. And then I will take a bunch of pictures of the exact scene (not moving my camera at all) I will just change my “TV” and my “AV.” Eventually I will find the right setting that creates a picture that matches the real scene. Where there is no hot spots that need to be photoshopped. I am no expert but this has been working pretty good for me. That's great, as I stated before I do not take hot spots out as I have no clue how to. However I have no issue with Tommy or Tim doing so as I know that hot spots do appear on the file quite often in fact when they do not exist. You can tell me your opinion that they don't but I know that they do. I do not adjust my lighting so it looks good in photography. I adjust my lighting so it is optimized for live viewing.

Burt, you have inspired me. I am going to break into the software that came with my camera and start experimenting with RAW.

P.S. I am by no means trying to give Mike G advice on lighting. I am just sharing something I learned from another very highly respected lighting professional. I am really glad Mike is back on the forum he is a GREAT resource that we now have available at our finger tips.
~Ned

See above in bold

irrig8r
02-10-2009, 09:39 PM
I've got nothing to contribute right now, but I just wanted to say I'm enjoying reading this discussion, and the fact that even when disagreeing, everybody seems to be getting along...

MAGLIGHTING
02-10-2009, 10:34 PM
I've got nothing to contribute right now, but I just wanted to say I'm enjoying reading this discussion, and the fact that even when disagreeing, everybody seems to be getting along...

It is a beautiful thing. I apologize to Ned if I come off sounding too strong. No offense intended.

Pro-Scapes
02-10-2009, 10:53 PM
Everyone should take a good look at this thread. Lots of good info and a major difference of opinion with no one at all fighting like wildcats. This thread has me in the mood to go down and visit Burt and play with cameras and take some photos and learn more about taking great pics. I need to shoot alot of jobs for the upcoming garden show in march. Guess I better get moving on it.

NightLightingFX
02-10-2009, 11:16 PM
I appoligize if I have come across harsh. What ever attitude I have exuded please forgive me. Tim, Tommy, & Mike you guys know I respect your work? right? Do I come accross that narrow minded and rigid? I will say it again. I could care less what someone does to their photos and how much photoshop is done. And I am going to continue to use photoshop and I am going to learn more about RAW. That doesn't sound like someone too set in their ways.

I was kind of thinking out loud the regarding ethics of using photoshop. I guess it got kind of messy. SORRY

Regarding Tom, he and I were privately corresponding a couple years back. I was asking his advice on a project. He inspired me to think differenly about photography that is all. His advice and perspective that, "the camera doesn't lie" improved my skills. I was just trying to share that perspective to you guys. I know I came accross arogant, sorry. Night time photography is TOUGH! Tom will probably chime in and say Ned, "What the hell are you talking about? I don't remember saying that" Regardless that perspective has improved my skill.

I know that a lot of you guys are better photographers than me. I just thought I would share my tricks I have been using. Not all my shots turn out, and I am sure a lot of you guys have more experience taking pictures than me.
~Ned

NightLightingFX
02-10-2009, 11:20 PM
ned there is a reason the tree looks cut off at the bottom. This tree is located on my property where it is not manicured and i only have demo lights out there and don't want them to be seen. I took some more photos tonight but, i feel i went backwards, so i don't want to post them.

I guess there's always tomorrow......

thank god for photoshop!!!

Lite4
02-11-2009, 11:10 AM
No worries Ned. You never actually offended me anyway. I can respect someone with a differing opinion. Everyone has there own take and convictions on things which is good, otherwise we would all be clones. Light on brother!

steveparrott
02-12-2009, 12:39 PM
Just a few quick comments on adjusting lights for the camera and the use of photoshop.

When I go to a lighting job to capture it in the camera, my primary goal is to have the images most accurately represent how human vision perceives it at the site. This is a big challenge, especially considering that human vision is not what the eye sees, but rather how the brain interprets visual signals.

First, the eye can distinguish details through a wide range of brightnesses - from the darkest shadows to the most brilliant illumination. Digital sensors have a much more limited range - for example, a brightly lit white column (if properly exposed in the camera) will leave all shadowed areas completely black. Conversly, if the shadows are exposed properly, all details will be washed out on the columns.

I deal with this problem by taking several different exposures from the same position typically, shot 1, I follow the camera's meter setting; shot 2, 1 1/2 stops below; shot 3, 1 1/2 stops above. Back at my computer I layer all three images in photoshop and selectively erase poorly exposed areas revealing correctly exposed areas until I have a single image where I can details in both shadowed and lit areas.

Another similar technique is to use a single raw image, adjust its brightness while still in the raw image editor to create two or more photoshop layers of varying brightness and go through the erasing process. This is possible because the raw image maintains its quality to a great extent during editing - you can push the envelop on raw images much more than with a jpg or tif.

Another thing I do in the field is to adjust the fixtures - usually making them less bright (by adding gels) or re-aiming them to eliminate hot spots. This makes the photoshop work much easier.

I justify all this because my intention is to re-create the visual experience as closely as possible.

MAGLIGHTING
02-12-2009, 07:46 PM
Listen to Steve he's an expert on this and the real deal. If you are lucky enough to study under him (he's super selective about who he works with and won't have anything to do with the likes of me) take advantage of it.

NightLightingFX
02-12-2009, 08:11 PM
I like what Steve said.

steveparrott
02-13-2009, 02:30 PM
Listen to Steve he's an expert on this and the real deal. If you are lucky enough to study under him (he's super selective about who he works with and won't have anything to do with the likes of me) take advantage of it.

Mike, thanks. Of course you're kidding, as a Jersey guy I would never cross a Gambino :)

Honestly, I'm not selective about sharing my limited knowledge of the subject. Anyone is free to contact me with questions.

Tomwilllight
02-13-2009, 03:56 PM
Another thing I do in the field is to adjust the fixtures - usually making them less bright (by adding gels) or re-aiming them to eliminate hot spots. This makes the photoshop work much easier.

I justify all this because my intention is to re-create the visual experience as closely as possible.

I hesitated to post on this thread because I read several postings that claim the camera lied, that there were no hot spots like the ones in the photos. Then I read Ned's invitation for me to post here and... heck, here we go.

It is a myth that a camera will lie. The camera tells the truth; it's for us to understand what is the truth the camera tells us. When we understand that truth, we will become better lighting designers and much less proficient rationalizers. To claim that a CAMERA is lying is to rationalize an excuse without understanding why the camera doesn't show you what you think you see.

In a post early today on another thread about photographing landscape lighting. I commented on the photograph of a small patio with white columns posted by Billy. I made some technical suggestions as to how he can modify the lighting design and get a better photograph. Please go read that post so I don't have to repeat it here.

The basic thing you folks have missed is that the eye is NOT a camera. The eye sees differently than the camera.

BUT, when the camera sees a landscape lighting design beautifully the lighting design's light levels are excellent.

What am I saying?

I'm saying that most of you haven't made a study of how remarkable a creation the human eye is. The eye is capable of seeing in starlight at 1/10,000 of a foot candle (FC) and at high noon in the Sahara Desert where the light is 10,000 FC. I believe this is a ratio of 1,000,000 to 1. I know it is a darn BIG number. They human eye is a remarkable light sensing organ. (Although the octopus' eye is even better than ours by a factor of about 1000.)

The best the most sensitive cameras can do is see (record) a light to dark ratio of about 100 to 1. Exceed that ratio in ether the light or dark areas and you will have "blocked up" highlights (too much information) or "no shadow detail" (no information).

2nd important piece of information: The human eye is drawn to the brightest object in the view. The brighter the object is, the more powerfully it pulls our focus.

If it is too bright, our pupil will close down and will do that in a fraction of a second. It must do that or your vision can be damaged and in a land filled with lions and tigers, a human with too badly damaged vision was easy cat food.

Or to put it another way; have any of you ever gotten "flash burns" from catching arc welding out of the corner of your eye? Hurts really bad, right? The eye wants to protect itself from that damage and reacts to increases in brightness in about 6/10th of a second by closing the pupil down.

Our eyes can also adapt to very low light levels... starlight... I remember reading a paperback book under the full moon in the New Mexico desert when I was 21. That ability is called "dark adaption" and it takes about 15 minutes to reach full dark adaption. Longer if you are older.

Now, put those two pieces of information together and you will understand why you don't see the "hot spots" your camera sees.

The eye is very cautious... it opens up much slower than it closes down. This is very important in our business!

Your eye adjusts and the camera can't as easily. No mater how many pixels your camera has, it does not have the power of a human brain figuring out what is important to see and what is not. The brain wants to survive...

When you eye adjusts for an hot/bright spot, you loose some of your dark adaption because your eye - ever worried about big, hungry cats - has protected your retina from damage. The hot spot looks OK to you... but you haven't noticed that you cannot "see into" those dark spots anymore. You see less but you see the bright spots just fine. And we call that landscape lighting? What you now see is not yet art.

It is not art because you have ignored most of your "scene" and because you have lost (or never had) your dark adaption, you cannot see into the less bright portions of your design.

Jan Moyer writes that we should be using lighting ratios in the area of 3:1 to 5:1. Higher ratios up to 10:1 can work but become increasingly difficult to pull off. (Pg.17 2nd Ed.)

Clearly, the proper ratio of dimness to brightness does not make a great a great lighting design; no more than all the Photoshopping in the world can make a good landscape lighting design. There is one heck of a lot more involved and I think most of you know that. What I want to convey is that I suggest your listen to your camera when it tells you the truth...

Your contrast ratios are too great... Pull those highlights back... Don't allow your Dark Adaption to be damaged when working at night...

Your camera is not lying, you aren't listening to the truth.

Now all you are welcome to get really mad at me... Fine... Check my web site... Every photo there was taken with a Canon G2, in RAW and processed with Breeze. The RAW files allowed me to be off a bit on my exposures without ruining a good photo.

The secret in good design is getting the levels right IN THE LANDSCAPE, not in your camera or your software.

Tom
www.wlld.us

MAGLIGHTING
02-13-2009, 05:20 PM
Take a grazing effect, especially on white and light surfaces, it is almost impossible to capture it's true essence with a camera, how a scene actually appears in person without digital enhancement. Always and without exception the light will be brightest where it first strikes an object in nature and with photography. Even more so with an MR-16 lamp that has a very intense center beam of light. As designers we do our best to work within the restrictions and limitations of the fixtures and lamps that are available to us. Baffles, lenses , shields help but not prerfect. In most every circumstance the brightness will be more prominent in that area of the photograph than it is in nature that is all we are saying here.

It has nothing to do with rationalization which I assume you mean that the designer is making excuses for hot spots. Maybe in some cases not all.

Yes it is easy to avoid all hot spots in your photography and on your projects. just use diffuse flood lighting effects but that wouldn't too interesting would it now.

Tomwilllight
02-13-2009, 07:16 PM
White surfaces are really tough to get right, which makes them a challenge and fun. We all have our own designers eye and what may be over-lighting to one is sparkle to another.

I have no problem with sparkle in my designs provided it's visual impact is not distracting or, in theatre language, pulling focus. I believe it is my job to guide my client's eye through their garden. Focus and how the eye moves is my primary concern. Too much sparkle in any one place can overpower a carefully designed view. I live with dread of Christmas and the Christmas tree that gets plunked in the middle of one of my favorite designs. The client all ways calls me it to make certain my design is in good shape before the holidays... and for 3 weeks no one can see anything I've done on the property.

I certainly will agree with you, Mike, that sparkle, when used by a designer who understands how the eye works can add life and festivity to a design.

Tom

MAGLIGHTING
02-13-2009, 07:23 PM
White surfaces are really tough to get right, which makes them a challenge and fun. We all have our own designers eye and what may be over-lighting to one is sparkle to another.

I have no problem with sparkle in my designs provided it's visual impact is not distracting or, in theatre language, pulling focus. I believe it is my job to guide my client's eye through their garden. Focus and how the eye moves is my primary concern. Too much sparkle in any one place can overpower a carefully designed view. I live with dread of Christmas and the Christmas tree that gets plunked in the middle of one of my favorite designs. The client all ways calls me it to make certain my design is in good shape before the holidays... and for 3 weeks no one can see anything I've done on the property.

I certainly will agree with you, Mike, that sparkle, when used by a designer who understands how the eye works can add life and festivity to a design.

Tom

Understood Tom and agreed. very well stated.

Lite4
02-13-2009, 07:29 PM
Tom,
When you are stating the recording capabilities of the camera I have no choice but to fully agree with you, however you are simply stating the very same thing we have been talking about. A camera will record whatever it is told, which comes back to operator error and not setting it correctly to record the visually perceived scene. I am sure I do not speak only for myself but when I "adjust" my photographs at home, I am simply trying to recreate the nuances that only the human eye can pick up as you so thoroughly explained it. I have yet to run into a customer that has camera lenses for eyes that will pick up perceived hotspots off of my work. A camera is simply another one of my tools I use to convey to others (as closely as possible) what kind of work they may receive if they should hire me for their project. I strive for my photos to be an exact or very close representation of what they would experience in person. I have yet to have a customer grill me about sharpening or adjusting the brightness level of my photos when looking through my portfolio, rather they are thrilled and excited about the prospects of having these beautiful scenes recreated at their own home. I am sure we are all saying the same things here, probably just going about it in different ways.

Have a great day.

Tomwilllight
02-13-2009, 08:29 PM
I absolutely agree with you that the camera is simply a tool.

Let me put it this way... When a professional photographer shoots a designed room, most will add fill light to reduce the contrast levels so the camera is able to make good exposures. They are reducing the contrast ratio to somewhere near the levels I've described.

My point is that we, as landscape lighting designers, need to take care to reduce and avoid introducing any unnecessary brightness that exceeds a 1 to 3 or 4 darkness to brightness ratio. The purpose is to avoid causing our client's loosing their dark adapted vision that allows them to see into the darkness (which we have cleverly lighted very softly) to find the additional information we are sharing with then about their garden.

We have different goals from the pro photographer but in some key ways, our technical goals are very similar.

It just so happens that, if we do take great care with our ratios, our photos will have less blocked up hot spots. AND our clients will be using their night vision to look at our light-painted designs.

As I said, this is very hard to do, but the payoff in terms of the quality of the lighted atmosphere you create is incredible.

As for client's responses to my work. Thats nice and I enjoy it, but they are not lighting designer's and it's not their job to know what exactly what it is we do. It is their job to enjoy what we do and my goal is to heighten their enjoyment as much as possible. And since what they enjoy comes from their seeing my work, I am very concerned about how their eyes work.

The more I know about how we see the more I can show my clients.

All I'm suggesting is to try it...

Tom

Tomwilllight
02-13-2009, 08:32 PM
Tim,

This is fun and I hope I'm not offending anybody...

Right now, I've got to give my bride her pre-Valentines day gift.

Have a great weekend.

Tom

MAGLIGHTING
02-13-2009, 11:29 PM
OK, I dug into the archives and I found a reverse angle of the same stream that I posted earlier. As you can see from this exposure there is no hot spot on any of the boulders under the mushroom pathlights. Unfortunately The photo is ruined by the movement of the trees. It was a breezy night and the photo is not a keeper as a result. However it does prove what I've been trying to say all along that photos that are not perfectly exposed can be very misleading. Note-absolutely no manipulation of this shot whatsoever regarding the toning down of hotspots.

Lite4
02-13-2009, 11:39 PM
I absolutely agree with you that the camera is simply a tool.

Let me put it this way... When a professional photographer shoots a designed room, most will add fill light to reduce the contrast levels so the camera is able to make good exposures. They are reducing the contrast ratio to somewhere near the levels I've described.

My point is that we, as landscape lighting designers, need to take care to reduce and avoid introducing any unnecessary brightness that exceeds a 1 to 3 or 4 darkness to brightness ratio. The purpose is to avoid causing our client's loosing their dark adapted vision that allows them to see into the darkness (which we have cleverly lighted very softly) to find the additional information we are sharing with then about their garden.

We have different goals from the pro photographer but in some key ways, our technical goals are very similar.

It just so happens that, if we do take great care with our ratios, our photos will have less blocked up hot spots. AND our clients will be using their night vision to look at our light-painted designs.

As I said, this is very hard to do, but the payoff in terms of the quality of the lighted atmosphere you create is incredible.

As for client's responses to my work. Thats nice and I enjoy it, but they are not lighting designer's and it's not their job to know what exactly what it is we do. It is their job to enjoy what we do and my goal is to heighten their enjoyment as much as possible. And since what they enjoy comes from their seeing my work, I am very concerned about how their eyes work.

The more I know about how we see the more I can show my clients.

All I'm suggesting is to try it...

Tom

I agree with you. I always design with the night eye in mind and avoid glare and ultra high contrast at all cost. I think we are saying nearly the same things, just approaching it from different angles. Thumbs Up

steveparrott
02-16-2009, 09:43 AM
Tom, I really like the sublety of your approach to lighting (Mike has it too). I totally agree that the best designs strive for low contrast ratios. Though a 1 to 4 ratio is nearly impossible. I say this because your unlit areas (still visible to the human eye) will range between 0.001 fc to 0.01 fc. A typical path light will provide illumination in the range of 5 fc to 0.1 fc. If you're refering to maintaining a 1 to 4 ratio in the primary areas of illumination, then that is achievable.

As I mentioned in my comments, this is why when I go to shoot lighting projects, I re-aim most of the fixtures and carry a packet of diffusion and neutral density gels to cut back on brightness. Most of the projects I shoot have hot spots galore. I'm also limited by the fact that as night progresses I lose more and more ambient light. I used to limit myself (when I shot with film)to shooting within about a half hour of sunset. Now my shoots typically go for 3 to 6 hours after sunset (I've shot as many as 5 properties in a single night). When it's pitch dark, it's always necessary to shoot several exposures of the scene to pull out the details from the shadows then layer them in Photoshop.

Tomwilllight
02-16-2009, 12:05 PM
Though a 1 to 4 ratio is nearly impossible. I say this because your unlit areas (still visible to the human eye) will range between 0.001 fc to 0.01 fc. A typical path light will provide illumination in the range of 5 fc to 0.1 fc. If you're refering to maintaining a 1 to 4 ratio in the primary areas of illumination, then that is achievable.

I re-aim most of the fixtures and carry a packet of diffusion and neutral density gels to cut back on brightness. Most of the projects I shoot have hot spots galore. I'm also limited by the fact that as night progresses I lose more and more ambient light. I used to limit myself (when I shot with film)to shooting within about a half hour of sunset. Now my shoots typically go for 3 to 6 hours after sunset (I've shot as many as 5 properties in a single night). When it's pitch dark, it's always necessary to shoot several exposures of the scene to pull out the details from the shadows then layer them in Photoshop.

Thank you for your very detailed reply Steve,

Please allow me address your points one at a time.

A 1:4 or even 1:3 ratio is not impossible. Remember we are working WITH the night and require black dark night in places to anchor our designs in the night. The ratios are applicable only in the lighted areas - where we want stuff to be lighted.

That really is obvious of course, because we, as landscape lighting designers, are not trying to light everything. If we were, we would just act like too many electricians and line up a bunch of PAR 38s and blast the landscape from the roof line. We are lighting artists. We are selecting elements to light and use a variety of light levels to direct our clients' eyes through the landscape in a way that provides them pleasure and peace.

We understand that each texture/color that we light reflects different amounts of light back into our eyes. This LUMINANCE (perceived as "brightness") reflected back to the eye/camera is where we should be concerned about the light:dark ratios. The light reflecting back to our eyes and cameras should not exceed the 1:4 ratio.

The pathlight you mention that produces an ILLUMINANCE of 5 fc to 0.1 fc is a very good example. First, those numbers describe the amount of light that is hitting the surface, NOT the amount of light bouncing back into your eye/camera. The amount of light bouncing off the surface is entirely dependent upon 1) the angle the light is hitting that surface, 2) the texture of that surface, 3) the color of that surface. The amount of light bouncing back will be different for every different surface.

The only part of that we care about in this discussion is how much light gets to the viewer's eye and that light should fit into the more narrow light to dark ratios.

The next variable is the time of day you shoot your photos. With a few exceptions, most of my photos are taken after full darkness. Most of the brightness you see in the sky is sky glow from NYC and as bright as NYC sky glow is, it does not compare to the brightness of the Sun. As I mentioned in another post, professional photographers will use "fill" light to reduce the contrast ratios and to insure their exposures are "good". They want no black (no information) or white (too much information).

It is a fact that the most prestigious lighting award in the world - the GE Edison Award - disqualifies any entry that is photographed using fill light. Why? The judges cannot see what the Designed Lighting is doing; the designed light's shadows are full of fill light and the effects the designer was attempting to achieve are impossible to see in the photographs.

So why do I suggest that you shoot most of your photos after full darkness? The lighted sky serves as fill light. You are using the sun's light reflected by the sky to reduce your contrast ratio to a degree that your camera can capture a reasonable exposure. This is why you are shooting several exposures of the same scene to create a composite photo in PhotoShop when working in "pitch dark".

If you pull your light to dark ratios closer together by adjusting the luminances in your design to fit within that 1:3 or 4 range you will have less trouble photographing the scene. I also believe you will be doing better lighting design because you will allow your client's eyes to dark-adapt and then see more deeply into the most softly lighted portions of their landscape.

I am certain of this: I've checked my luminance levels in my designs and the designs I like the best... the ones that make me feel good... the ones that allow candlelight to have an impact... are reading at or near 0.5 fc. I like my designs to allow my clients to use candlelight and often measure my work by how supportive of candlelight it is.

Some readers may remember that I had a shouting match with a Professional Photographer at a LVLIA Conference several years ago. My shouting started when he said the ONLY time of day you could take good photos at night was during the "Golden Hour" before and after sunset. I knew he was wrong because I was getting good photographs in full darkness and George Gruel had recently shot an astounding set of photos of Jan's design for the Chicago Botanical Garden. I helped Jan focus the CBT and knew the lighting intimately. The speaker was just wrong.

As for your use of Photoshop, I personally see no problem with it. After all, the camera is not a human eye. If you can use it to bring out the detail in your designs the eye can see and the camera can reveal. I know that the best landscape lighting photographer is the world - George Gruel - uses Photoshop to achieve that exact effect for Jan's work. I know he's successful, because I've seen the photos and I've seen the designs. George has lectured at AOLP and freely shared his expertise there. You can't deny he has captured the magic that Jan creates.

Photoshop can help you show the world what you do as a lighting designer, but it cannot fix a lighting design that uses light levels that disturbs the eye's dark adaption. That is the place where good lighting design and good photography intersect.

When we light for the dark-adapted human eye, we are producing excellent lighting levels for excellent landsdape lighting designs and photos.

I've been looking for a way to open this topic within our industry. Thank you Steve, for the opportunity.

Tom

MAGLIGHTING
02-16-2009, 05:16 PM
Guys I'm going to stay out of the intellectual debate. If you want to use a point and shoot then go at it. More power to you. Me, I'm going to just keep doing what I'm doing because so far it's been working for me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and there are different ways to skin a cat I suppose. I'm just surprised by all the biased personal opinion that gets stated as fact that's all.

NightLightingFX
02-16-2009, 05:57 PM
Tom,
Thanks for sharing that very detailed and interesting info us.

I understand what Tom means regarding taking pictures when it is completely dark. I prefere to take my pics when it is completely dark. HOWEVER, after seeing all of Mike's pics at a VERY optimal time - where the sky looks deep blue. His pictures have a VERY dramatic look. Mike's pictures have inspired me to think more about getting pics with that deep blue sky.
~Ned

MAGLIGHTING
02-16-2009, 06:07 PM
Tom,
Thanks for sharing that very detailed and interesting info us.

I understand what Tom means regarding taking pictures when it is completely dark. I prefere to take my pics when it is completely dark. HOWEVER, after seeing all of Mike's pics at a VERY optimal time - where the sky looks deep blue. His pictures have a VERY dramatic look. Mike's pictures have inspired me to think more about getting pics with that deep blue sky.
~Ned

This is just another matter of personal preference which is hardly worthy of having a screaming match over regarding who is right and who is wrong. But to say someone is wrong because they have a different opinion than you to me in itself is wrong. Especially since the professional photography industry forever has been saying (open a photography book) that the best photos are taken during twilight when there is blue in the sky. Hey I'm all for being a contrarian. Regardless who cares it's purely a matter of personal opinion and it should be Kept at that.

Lite4
02-16-2009, 10:44 PM
Lovin the blue sky and no photoshop!!!!

MAGLIGHTING
02-16-2009, 11:04 PM
Beautiful Tim. Bravo that's what I'm talking about.

Lite4
02-16-2009, 11:38 PM
Here are a few right at the end of the blue sky window. These ones came out a little dark. Not a whole lot to look at on these.

MAGLIGHTING
02-16-2009, 11:49 PM
Just something about that deep rich blue colored sky that brings the whole scene together for me Tim.

TXNSLighting
02-17-2009, 12:54 AM
The blue sky is fantastic, i really got to realizing it when i took my last pictures a couple nights ago. (the one in my sig) It just gives the picture a calming ffect.

steveparrott
02-17-2009, 09:12 AM
Tom, great points and I do understand the photometric concepts regarding luminance vs. illuminance and the contribution of surface properties and the vagaries of perceived brightness.

We really have no disagreements with regard to what constitutes optimal light levels and ratios, I applaud your bringing this discussion in such depth to the forum.

I would like to comment on the sky issue. There is tremendous variability in how the sky appears in photos.

It varies by locale: In Jersey, for some reason, just after dusk, the sky is usually a dusky purple - very unnatural and distracting - I hate it; and it's a very difficult color to adjust in Photoshop. In most dry hot climates, the sky tends to the deep blue - very beautiful. Not only is this important at dusk, but digital cameras can pick up sky color late into the night. I did some shoots in Arizona where the sky remained a deep blue well past midnight. Of course this is ideal and allow you to see outlines of structures and trees, even when they are not lit.

The only time that I find it necessary to shoot at dusk is when I'm presented with shooting a house that's not adeqoutly lit - of course that's a judgement call, but when upper stories, eaves and rooflines dissappear into the darkness, it leaves you with an image where the architectural lines and forms are incomplete. Many times I've arrived at a project after dark where I can't pull any detail off the second story and the roofline can't be distinguished against the dark sky. In such cases, I have to shoot within about 30 minutes from sunset to get a reasonable shot.

JoeyD
02-17-2009, 09:39 AM
I take pictures..........Nikon D70, traded a Transformer for it! 2 lenses a 50mm and a 50-300mm! I love it!

I have never read a book, I have never taken a class. I just listened and guessed! LOL

I prefer Twilight but when your late to the job you make due! Here was my first go around with the camera last year......

http://i207.photobucket.com/albums/bb97/ulsjoeyd/lighting/SilverMoon1.jpg

http://i207.photobucket.com/albums/bb97/ulsjoeyd/lighting/SilverMoon4.jpg


My manfroto tri pod was stolen when I went to Baja for the Baja 1000 race so now I have to find hard surfaces in creative ways to shoot the pics......kind of makes it fun!

Tomwilllight
02-17-2009, 10:47 AM
This is just another matter of personal preference which is hardly worthy of having a screaming match over regarding who is right and who is wrong. But to say someone is wrong because they have a different opinion than you to me in itself is wrong. Especially since the professional photography industry forever has been saying (open a photography book) that the best photos are taken during twilight when there is blue in the sky. Hey I'm all for being a contrarian. Regardless who cares it's purely a matter of personal opinion and it should be Kept at that.

Mike,

You have a powerful brand that is well expressed in your photographs. That you have spent many years and long hours developing the Gambino Brand is obvious.

The Royal Blue of your sky, the Jewel-like Greens of your foliage and the deep, mysterious shadows that unify your photographs are all elements of the Gambino Brand. That is a fine thing and you do it very well.

I couldn't do what you do if I tried. I believe most of your work is based in Southern California while most of my work is in the Northeast. We don't get such skies in New England and Up-state NY; there is too much moisture in the atmosphere and the light scatters too much. Our plants don't have the color a Mediterranean Climate supports and we don't get the longer, luxurious twilights a more southerly latitude offers.

We all work with what we have. What you have works for you.

My goal is to share my way of approaching landscape lighting and how I photograph the result. It's not better or worse than your way... it's just different: adapted to my region and my design goals.

When I told the story of my unfortunate shouting match with the presenter at LVIA, I was attempting to make the point that the "Golden Hour" rule is no longer a barrier to night-time photography. Digital photography changed the rule books. True, the golden hour was (and may still be) photography gospel, but the barrier is down.

I understood the photography world had changed in December of 2003 when Jan Moyer asked me to help her design and set up a mock-up in a Vermont marble quarry. Following the presentation of the mock-up, I pulled out my Cannon G2, put it on a tripod and took a bunch of photographs. This was the first time anyone had photographed Jan's work with a digital camera. We were both amazed at the result. We realized the rules of night-time photography had changed with better quality digital cameras.

I did get over-heated at LVLIA when the speaker REFUSED to even look at the prints of my and George Gruel's work I had with me; I have long regretted that outburst. Unfortunately, that was not the last time my temper and passion for sharing information about light got the best of my good intentions.

It seems to me that this and other threads in this site are largely about how twilight and night-time photography has changed in the digital era. Mike, you have broken ground as has George Gruel. I've scratched the earth a bit and write some about what I have learned scratching around.

In many ways, I'm still a student and a teacher and really can't help myself. If I have information that I think others may find useful, I enjoy sharing it. I also learn from this exchange and I enjoy that too.

Thanks for your exchange of ideas!

Tom

BTW, I was standing on the client's back steps when I took the photo below. One heck of a back yard!

Tomwilllight
02-17-2009, 10:54 AM
It varies by locale: In Jersey, for some reason, just after dusk, the sky is usually a dusky purple - very unnatural and distracting - I hate it; and it's a very difficult color to adjust in Photoshop. In most dry hot climates, the sky tends to the deep blue - very beautiful. Not only is this important at dusk, but digital cameras can pick up sky color late into the night. I did some shoots in Arizona where the sky remained a deep blue well past midnight. Of course this is ideal and allow you to see outlines of structures and trees, even when they are not lit.

Steve, You anticipated my last post. I look forward to your comments.

Tom

klkanders
02-17-2009, 11:06 AM
Great information everyone and beautiful shots! Thanks!

Keith

MAGLIGHTING
02-17-2009, 03:12 PM
Mike,

You have a powerful brand that is well expressed in your photographs. That you have spent many years and long hours developing the Gambino Brand is obvious.

The Royal Blue of your sky, the Jewel-like Greens of your foliage and the deep, mysterious shadows that unify your photographs are all elements of the Gambino Brand. That is a fine thing and you do it very well.

I couldn't do what you do if I tried. I believe most of your work is based in Southern California while most of my work is in the Northeast. We don't get such skies in New England and Up-state NY; there is too much moisture in the atmosphere and the light scatters too much. Our plants don't have the color a Mediterranean Climate supports and we don't get the longer, luxurious twilights a more southerly latitude offers.

We all work with what we have. What you have works for you.

My goal is to share my way of approaching landscape lighting and how I photograph the result. It's not better or worse than your way... it's just different: adapted to my region and my design goals.

When I told the story of my unfortunate shouting match with the presenter at LVIA, I was attempting to make the point that the "Golden Hour" rule is no longer a barrier to night-time photography. Digital photography changed the rule books. True, the golden hour was (and may still be) photography gospel, but the barrier is down.

I understood the photography world had changed in December of 2003 when Jan Moyer asked me to help her design and set up a mock-up in a Vermont marble quarry. Following the presentation of the mock-up, I pulled out my Cannon G2, put it on a tripod and took a bunch of photographs. This was the first time anyone had photographed Jan's work with a digital camera. We were both amazed at the result. We realized the rules of night-time photography had changed with better quality digital cameras.

I did get over-heated at LVLIA when the speaker REFUSED to even look at the prints of my and George Gruel's work I had with me; I have long regretted that outburst. Unfortunately, that was not the last time my temper and passion for sharing information about light got the best of my good intentions.

It seems to me that this and other threads in this site are largely about how twilight and night-time photography has changed in the digital era. Mike, you have broken ground as has George Gruel. I've scratched the earth a bit and write some about what I have learned scratching around.

In many ways, I'm still a student and a teacher and really can't help myself. If I have information that I think others may find useful, I enjoy sharing it. I also learn from this exchange and I enjoy that too.

Thanks for your exchange of ideas!

Tom

BTW, I was standing on the client's back steps when I took the photo below. One heck of a back yard!

Tom, thank you for acknowledging and appreciating my work. After reading my post again regarding the reference to the screaming match I apologize if it sounded like I was calling you out on that. I want to make it clear that wasn't my intention. In fact if that "pro photographer" was the same one that is based in Arizona , who appeared at the LVLIA conference in Key west Fla. at a previous conference then I applaud you for it. He had no business being there because it was apparent he had zero experience with Night photography . Hopefully he came cheap to the association because his presentation was so far off base and worthless.

My only beef was with the way you stated as fact that afterdark was the defacto way of nighttime photography. You have to remember that George Gruehl is a pro photographer who does amazing things with Photoshop. I sat through his presentation last year and was very impressed. So impressed that I contacted him and hired him to photoshop 50 of my photos for a fee. Unfortunately George, who still has my files and after several promises, did not follow through and never delivered any of my digitally corrected files.

He did send me 1 sample though and it was amazing what he was able to do with it. In particular his skill of completely taking a blown out over exposed hot spot from a brick wall. It was then that I first realized how powerful photoshop can be under the direction of a pro.

Steve Parrott is another experienced Pro whom most of us will never equal in photographic or photoshop ability. All I'm saying is that the general audience that you are reaching is comprised of guys like me who are unable nor have the interest or time to devote to mastering the photoshop program. Nor do most of us have access to George Gruehl or Steve Parrott. Photoshop, I feel is an absolute must if you are shooting with no available twilight in the sky. When Steve starts talking about layering, I have even a greater appreciation for his work, although my eyes glaze over and I lose interest and opt out because it's way beyond what I care to do to get a good shot.

I'm very glad now in hindsight that George did not do any work on my photos and then feel the need to become dependent upon it. It has made me have to go out and work harder to get more acceptable shots without the need for major photoshop adjustment.

Tomwilllight
02-17-2009, 04:31 PM
Mike,

I bet he was the same photographer. I've happily forgotten his name, but I do remember that he was Arizona based and shot for Arizona Road (?) Magazine.

Tom

MAGLIGHTING
02-17-2009, 06:48 PM
Mike,

I bet he was the same photographer. I've happily forgotten his name, but I do remember that he was Arizona based and shot for Arizona Road (?) Magazine.

Tom

Yes, Tom bingo that's the same photographer. You had every right to get heated up over it. I can't even believe they had him back a second year.

Lite4
02-19-2009, 12:51 PM
Thanks guys, this thread has been a very positive exchange of knowledge and information. My hat is also off to Mr. Parrot, who's willingness to share his experience and knowledge about night time photography on this site, has allowed me to progress and get better results with my own pictures over the last 2 years.

Thanks again, Steve, Tom and Mike for contributing your valuable experiences for all of our benefit.

Tomwilllight
02-19-2009, 01:29 PM
Thanks Tim. I enjoy getting stuff out of my head and down on paper where it can be useful.

Good luck with the new job.

Tom

steveparrott
02-20-2009, 03:37 PM
Great thread, here's another tip. Elevate! Often times an elevated perspective makes for a great shot - especially with hardscapes. I use 2 super clamps (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/546356-REG/Manfrotto_by_Bogen_Imaging_035RL_035RL_Super_Clamp_with.html) connected with a stud to attach my tripod to a step ladder, or I stand on a truck or a roof. Here's some examples (Designers are Scott Driscoll, Jason Sponzilli, Tom Bevilacqua and George Jacobs):

JoeyD
02-20-2009, 04:03 PM
Cool Pictures Steve!

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-20-2009, 04:04 PM
Very cool perspective Steve... I never would have thought of that! Thanks.

Lite4
02-20-2009, 07:34 PM
Love the long exposure on the street pic. Very nice. Thanks for the perspective Steve.

Pro-Scapes
03-21-2009, 09:49 PM
well lets bring up an older thread. We picked up a new Nikon d60 today and will report on performance. I am going to be comparing it side by side with our existing cam and see what this thing can do. It is basically the same thing tim had and some of his photos are downright stunning.

I know some of you have 3 or 4k setups but I just do not have the time or learning curve for that at this point. If I am going to spend that I am just going to bite the bullet and bring in a pro for 400 a night.

Mr. Quik electric
03-21-2009, 10:27 PM
The D60 is a good camera Billy, it should serve you well.

The Lighting Geek
03-21-2009, 10:36 PM
You should be able to get good shots from your camera Billy. Good luck, looking forward to your input and especially your pictures! I lost many of mine when my comp was stolen. I now burn a cd or dvd after every shoot and file it as well as keeping a copy on an external HD. I am going to be busy reshooting alot of work.

Pro-Scapes
03-22-2009, 09:01 AM
The D60 is a good camera Billy, it should serve you well.

Tim can you email me when you gte a chance about your lens and settings for your nikon or just post them here ?

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
03-22-2009, 09:17 AM
Billy, the lens will make or break your photos. I am a canon man, so I dont have Nikon particulars. I would ensure you have a BIG piece of glass on that camera. 18-55 mm, F2 or so. The better the glass the better the photos. Canon makes a full line of IS (image stabilized) lenses which are awesome for low light, long exposures. (yes even when on a tripod, IS makes a huge difference in our shooting conditions)

As for lens settings, these will vary from job to job, night to night, shot to shot. There is no magic setting that will work for all. Remember to bracket your images. (The camera will hopefully do this automatically for you, taking three exposures, one below the setting you dial in, one on the settings, and one above.) This allows you to simply pick the best exposure from a small group, or bring all the exposures into photoshop for layering.

Have fun!

steveparrott
03-22-2009, 03:41 PM
James, take care with the image stabilization on the canon. I'm pretty sure the image stabilizer can mess up nighttime photos. I left it switched on by mistake at a shoot the other night and several photos were blurry. This was a Florida shoot on a windy night and I think the camera was trying to stabilize the palm fronds!

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
03-22-2009, 05:23 PM
Hey Steve, I have never heard of that before. I always thought the IS on the Canon lens was there to remove any camera shake, not adjust for movements in the object. It is a gyroscopic system not anything to do with the image sensor so I don't know how the Lens would "know" that the Palm Fronds were moving. I will have to do some more reading on that. I havent had any issues (yet) with using IS while shooting night photos.

Thanks for the tip... Have a great day.

Pro-Scapes
03-22-2009, 11:24 PM
Well we used the new nikon tonight and got some decent pics but nothing i would like to stick my name on just yet. The color rendition seems to be alot more true. Ash and I will continue to use both cameras and shoot a few jobs over the next several weeks and see how things turn out.

trailboss
04-27-2009, 01:18 PM
Well we used the new nikon tonight and got some decent pics but nothing i would like to stick my name on just yet. The color rendition seems to be alot more true. Ash and I will continue to use both cameras and shoot a few jobs over the next several weeks and see how things turn out.

Any pics with the new camera yet? I am looking into buying the same camera or something similar and was curious how it was working out for you.

Steve

trailboss
04-27-2009, 01:54 PM
Anybody had any experience with Sony cameras? I went in my local shop and they were showing me the Sony Alpha DSLR-A350K. It looks like a pretty good deal but I want to make a good purchase. http://www.wolfcamera.com/product/542088059.htm

They also have several others that look like good deals. http://www.wolfcamera.com/static/content/promos/One-Week-Sale-WC.html

I often buy online but on something like this I like the idea of having local support.
Any input and/or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Steve

Kiril
04-27-2009, 02:03 PM
For consumer/prosumer DSLR, all follow Canon.

Doesn't matter where you get it, your local camera store will support it.

Best place online to get photography equipment is B&H.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-27-2009, 03:30 PM
Canon is my fav for sure. Nikon is also very good. Pentax, Olympus, Sony, Panasonic, all have decent products in the DSLR category too but you will find fewer and fewer options and accessories as you move down that list. Kodak, HP, Casio, Epson, etc etc are the stereo store point and shoot level.

B&H is an excellent on-line resource. I have also had amazing luck with buying lenses and accessories on Ebay.

trailboss
04-27-2009, 09:41 PM
Do you think that this 18-55mm IS lens that comes with the Canon Rebel EOS XSi will be sufficient?
http://www.wolfcamera.com/product/541162053.htm

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-27-2009, 10:27 PM
I would check that lens out very very carefully! In my canon lens catalog it does not show a 18-55 IS lens at F3.5-5.6! When you enlarge the photo on that site, the lens pictured is clearly not an IS model. The upgraded lens that I would recommend is the 17-85mm IS USM F4-5.6 unit.

Here is the link to the lens that is standard on the Rebel and the one pictured in that photo: http://www.canon.ca/english/index-products.asp?lng=en&prodid=960&sgid=7&gid=2&ovr=1

I opted for the upgraded IS USM lens which is a much better piece of glass. http://www.canon.ca/english/index-products.asp?lng=en&prodid=961&sgid=7&gid=2&ovr=1

Pro-Scapes
04-27-2009, 10:43 PM
I have been having great luck since I switched to Nikon. The color rendition is so much more real. I do not like to do alot of doctoring to photos.

I also purchased a new much heavier trippod and just yesterday got the infared remote for my new nikon. A new lens is next on the list.

On another note. Newer devices support the SDHC format too. My old camera wont support the 4gb card that I use in the Nikon and niether will my internal card reader on my PC.

Pro-Scapes
04-27-2009, 10:45 PM
Any pics with the new camera yet? I am looking into buying the same camera or something similar and was curious how it was working out for you.

Steve

Steve. I posted some someplace. Feel free to PM me with your email and I will send you some others.

trailboss
04-27-2009, 11:30 PM
I would check that lens out very very carefully! In my canon lens catalog it does not show a 18-55 IS lens at F3.5-5.6! When you enlarge the photo on that site, the lens pictured is clearly not an IS model. The upgraded lens that I would recommend is the 17-85mm IS USM F4-5.6 unit.

Here is the link to the lens that is standard on the Rebel and the one pictured in that photo: http://www.canon.ca/english/index-products.asp?lng=en&prodid=960&sgid=7&gid=2&ovr=1

I opted for the upgraded IS USM lens which is a much better piece of glass. http://www.canon.ca/english/index-products.asp?lng=en&prodid=961&sgid=7&gid=2&ovr=1

Thanks for the info. James. I will do some checking on that lens. This is all kinda new to me - I have been using a Canon point and shoot but I realize that I need to graduate into a nicer setup.

Thanks Again!

Tomwilllight
04-27-2009, 11:39 PM
I took most the photos on my web site with a Canon G2 using a $25 tripod.

The camera does not make the photo, the photographer does. And the photographer can only photograph what is in front of them.

To say it another way, the camera will not make you a photographer.

Tom

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-28-2009, 12:18 AM
Tom is largely correct... Most of the images on my website www.integralighting.com and most of them in my portfolio were taken with a Canon G3 using a $40 tripod. They came out pretty good. However, the images that I take with my Canon 30D DSLR, Top quality lenses, and HD tripod are much much better quality and require much less post production work. They also print out to 8x10 size, for the portfolio, much nicer.

I recommend that you spend as much money as you can afford on a 'pro-sumer' level camera. Just like any technology, you do get better quality the more you spend.

trailboss
04-28-2009, 12:20 AM
I took most the photos on my web site with a Canon G2 using a $25 tripod.

The camera does not make the photo, the photographer does. And the photographer can only photograph what is in front of them.

To say it another way, the camera will not make you a photographer.

Tom

I agree with you Tom. I taught guitar for many years and told people the same thing about guitar. You can buy a $10,000 guitar but it wont make you a player - you have to put in the time. However, there are some definite sound differences between a $100 instrument and a nice handmade quality instrument. You can make music with both - but the cheaper instrument will usually play rough and sound cheap. I could go out and play a gig with the $100 guitar but I would prefer not to.
So, I know that the camera wont make me a photographer but I know that when I have some crummy pictures I wont be able to blame the camera. Ive had a decent point and shoot for a while but it isnt capable of doing what I need so therefore its time to graduate into a nicer rig.

Kiril
04-28-2009, 08:35 AM
Do you think that this 18-55mm IS lens that comes with the Canon Rebel EOS XSi will be sufficient?
http://www.wolfcamera.com/product/541162053.htm

I have the XSi and it came with that lens. Most important thing to remember it is a kit lense. It is most certainly not a L series, but it is adequate to do less serious photography where the expected image quality isn't that high.

http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ModelInfoAct&fcategoryid=149&modelid=15704

My friend and I did a test with the XSi and his 50D with the EF 180mm macro to see the difference in image quality. All in all, the XSi performed above expectations in comparison considering the difference in price points for the body.

Kiril
04-28-2009, 08:48 AM
My friend and I did a test with the XSi and his 50D with the EF 180mm macro to see the difference in image quality. All in all, the XSi performed above expectations in comparison considering the difference in price points for the body.

That was a comparison to a 5D not 50D. Sry for the typo.

Kiril
04-28-2009, 01:50 PM
Here is a couple of pics with the XSi and the EFS 18-55 kit lens.
All have been resized (Gimp) to comply with the sites size restrictions, so image quality has been comprised.

1) PS post processed, hand held.

2) Unprocessed, with monopod.

3) Unprocessed, hand held, flashed.

All three I believe were taken at 18mm.

trailboss
04-28-2009, 03:51 PM
All three of those look great - very nice detail. Have you used it much for nightime shots?

David Gretzmier
04-28-2009, 10:58 PM
the canon xsi is my next camera. finally moving from point and shoot to SLR. maybe I'll even post a picture, finally.