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Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by jbailey52, Jan 14, 2007.

  1. jbailey52

    jbailey52 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,094

    I am using a sony cyber shot 7.4 MP camera... what settings do you guys recomend for shooting light scapes? No flash? They all seem to come out blurry for me.. thanks!
  2. klkanders

    klkanders LawnSite Senior Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 849


    I have a Sony cyber shot 5.0 that I have taken a few lighting pics with. I'm no camera expert but just experimented a little. The beauty of digital is you can take a pic ,look at it to see how you did, and erase it if you don't like it....thats what I did. If your camera is set up similar to mine there is a black pic of a camera with a P next to it. Use that setting. As mentioned in other threads on here about pics the ideal time is right before darkness falls when there is a bluish sky yet. Its a short window but you will get to know it when you have taken some pics before, during, and after this timeframe and compare them.
  3. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Messages: 1,275

    For excellent photos, here are some suggestions:

    - Always use a tripod

    - Always use manual (M) setting

    - Set ASA to minimum value (usually 100)

    - Always shoot in RAW format (don't buy a camera without this option)

    - The camera's built-in meter has a display with an arrow that moves along a scale of -2 to +2. The zero mark is the camera's suggested exposure. By changing the shutter speed and aperature (f-stop), you can manually move the exposure so the arrow goes to the zero point. This is your starting point; take an exposure at zero, then take one at -1.5, then one at 1.5. I suggest doing this for every shot since it's hard to judge the best exposure by looking at the preview.

    - Longer shutter speeds usually give better results. I usually set my shutter speed to 20 or 30 sec. then set my f-stop for the optimum exposure.

    - Use a remote shutter release or timer release (set in the camera) to avoid shaking the camera.

    - Start taking photos as soon as the lighting effects are visible on structure surfaces even though the sky may be too bright. A polorizing filter can darken the sky under certain conditions. Or, the sky can be darkened in Photoshop later. Take the big picture shot first and keep your camera in that spot until the sky darkens.

    - After the roof and other non-lit areas are overly dark, take pics of details such as planting beds, focal points and so on.

    When I started with this photography several years ago, I was lucky to get 1 or 2 good shots, now I typically get 10 to 20 per shoot.
  4. jbailey52

    jbailey52 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,094

    I will try it all. Thanks Steve!
  5. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    another LS memeber told me about the pentax Isdl digital slr camera. When I bout it on ebay (i think around 500 bucks) it made all the difference in the world. A good tripod and either use the timer or a remote really sharpens the pictures. Attached is a pic I took with the DLSR pentax at a job we helped on this weekend. In the pictures thread in the lighting forum you can see my less than stellar results with my point and shoot camera.

    As steve said the Manual setting should be used and do not disturb the camera until the shutter does its full cycle or your pics will be blurry.

    I suggest reading steves article on the subject on the Cast website.

    Keep in mind i compressed the snot out of the pics as they were over 3mb each. Bottom line is if you want nice pics you need a DLSR cam and you need to take the time to learn it. Im still learning and still need filters and something other than my 18-55 lens but its still MUCH better than the point and shoot results. You may not need the 1500 buck canon 20 or 30 d set up tho.


  6. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    ps the above Job was a job we recently completed that was actually SAMIV's job that we helped on. Very proud to help on this one. 5700 watts 3 direct burials and 4 cast transformers with 150 fixtures. Outstanding planning and execution on his part and it just made me feel great to help him as well as learn a few new tricks to take my own work to the next level.
  7. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Messages: 1,275

    Nice photos Billy. Another tip - In the column photo, the exposure is correct at about mid-pillar (the bottom of the pillar is over-exposed and the unlit areas are under-exposed). If I were on-site to take these pics, I would tilt the uplights back so the light just grazed the pillars. Then you could take a longer exposure - brightening up the unlit areas and eliminating the hot spot on the pillars. At nearly every shoot, I re-aim lights to reduce light levels. This enables me to take pics longer into the night. Surprisingly, the designer usually leaves the fixtures as I re-aimed them because the overall effect is to make the design softer and more subtle.
  8. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    Thanks for the tip steve... I left the final aiming up to Burt (samIV) as its his job I helped him on. There really was no hot spots on these pillars in real life as all the bullets are aimed straight up. When he returns to install the louvers on everything the aiming options will increase for sure. Im still new to the DLSR photo thing. I will try tilting out a bit to see. I also need to start shooting in RAW and get better with my editing skills. Always learning!

    This is about my 4th attempt at shooting lighting with the DLSR cam. I bought a book called DLSR photography for dummies just to familiarize myself with the different terms and features but have not had much time to get thru it.
  9. ChampionLS

    ChampionLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,066

    Couldn't have said it any better Steve!.

    I have a Sony Cyber Shot 8MP camera and use all those features. I'm not sure about RAW mode (mine does it) but unless your going to seriously edit the photos, or use them for printed publications, the standard Jpeg or Tiff mode will be fine for email, and making prints. For any of you beginners, definitely need a tripod, manual setting and turn the flash off. Now the fun part is using the f-stops. I ALWAYS use the self timer..because even if you think you won't wiggle the camera.. you will and blur the shot. There is about a 15 minute window to shoot good night time photos. After that, you lose all natural light, and even if you use a longer exposure, the details are grainy. Some of the best pictures are finding the right f-stop setting where your lighting isn't too "hot" and the background isn't lacking fine detail. Don't shoot on windy days, because you are using time lapse. Anything moving will be blurred, but that can give a nice effect for water, and fountains.

  10. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    even experienced guys have to use a trip pod with an SLR cam. The shutter han hang open a very very long time and it can take forever to click the pic. ANY movement here will be completly blurred.

    Thats been one of my biggest challenges on the coast is finding a non breezy evening to do it!

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