Canon or Nikon?

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by trailboss, Aug 23, 2009.

  1. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,180

    Good post Pihta,When I start shooting my f/stop settings will usually be established by what I am shooting.* If I am shooting a big area such as a full house shot and their is a lot of foreground and background detail, I will usually shoot these around 11-13 to increase the clarity throughout the depth of field in the portrait. my shutter times will vary depending on ambient light levels in the sky and the lit objects themselves.* On these shots though I usually start around 10 seconds as a benchmark on these f/stop settings and adjust as necessary.** If I am shooting an object or scene that is closer up the increased depth of field is not as much of an issue and I will open it up to about f/7 or so.* I will begin shutter speeds around 1-3 seconds and adjust as necessary.* Some times you just have a good handle on the necessary exposure lengths based on the amount of reflected light coming back at you that you can dial it in precisely within a shot or 2.* I shoot all my photography at ISO 100.* I know that this limits my shooting time somewhat but I find my photos becoming much "grainier" as I increase my ISO speeds and I just don't care for it.* I really like a nice deep saturation of blacks and greens in the photos.* I will often adjust my white balance as well as it progressively gets darker or depending on what I am shooting. This makes a big difference in getting more of the true color out of the pictures.
  2. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    thats why this winter when its all snowy tim is coming to do some fishing with us and teach us how to use our nikon :)
  3. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,180

    Wahoo! Sign me up! :clapping:
  4. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

  5. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    Canon sets the standard, everyone else just follows.
  6. Alan B

    Alan B Sponsor
    Male, from tampa, fl
    Messages: 446

    Good thread as night pics are hard. To back up for those who can't read up on any of the recommended books, or understand DSLR's here are some photography basics that may help for a general understanding:

    1. A camera takes the average of all the light entering camera and tries to make a photograph that has the normal amount of exposure (the average part of the overall photo will be half way between pitch black and bright white). For a landscape lighting night shots it will think the average light is too dark and will try and compensate by either adding a flash or leaving the shutter open too long. Accordingly an automatic camera won't give the results you need.

    2. DSLR enables you to manually adjust these exposure settings and enable the overall photograph to be dark.

    3. The exposure settings are controlled by 2 things-- Shutter Speed (how fast the shutter opens and closes) and Aperture (an adjustable opening that determins how much light comes into the camera). Shutter speeds go from fast (1/2500th of a second) to as long as you want if you use a manual setting. Apertures numbers (f-stops) are inverse to how wide open they are. A small f-stop like 1.8 is actually a wide open apeture. A large f-stop # like f22 is a closed down opening.

    4.These two items work together but are inversely related. In other words you can let the same amount of light in with a fast shutter speed and wide open aperture or you could use a slow shutter speed but have a very closed aperture.

    5 What's the difference and how do they relate to the photograph? Apertures control depth of field (what is in focus). A small F stop (like 1.5) means there is a short depth of field (good for taking a portrait of a person where their face is in focus but background is blurry --creates attention to the subject-- the persons face). For our application of night time landscape lighting we need a large depth of field so the entire properly is in focus so use a large F stop number like F22. This means the aperture is actually closed down so you'll need a long exposure time (very slow slow shutter speed). This is why as several mention you must use a tripod and a remote control device.

    6. You want it exposed long enough that you can make out the overall property with out over exposing (creating hot spots) where the lights are shinning. This is obviously tough because the camera can't help you-- it doesn't fit with the cameras settings of having a neutral exposure balance (where the average part of the photo is 50% between jet black and bright white). Landscape lighting photos will have the average be quite dark where 50% of the photo is close to black and only some/none is bright white.

    7. How do you do this? You can set the aperture to f22, put on a tripod, use a remote and try several long manual shutter speeds (shutter speed bracketing) like 1 second, 2 seconds, 4 seconds, 8 seconds). Another way is to set the camera on automatic (with flash disabled). Come closer to a lighted area (like 15' from a facade that has been wallwashed), aim at the lit wall, push the shutter button half way down and see what settings the automatic mode was going to shoot at. Write those down. Now move back to the street and put it on manual but use the shutter speed and aperture the automatic mode was suggesting earlier. This can be your start point fro bracketing.

    8. One note. For each aperture setting you move up (from 11 to 22 for example) you need to move down in shutter speed (from 1/60 th of a second to 1/30th of a second) to keep the same overall exposure. One movement of an f-stop is equal to one movement of a shutter speed. So if you move up 2 settings in aperture, move down 2 settings of shutter speed (if you want to keep the same exposure). So in the previous case if the automatic mode recommended a small f-stop but you want to move 6 f-stops bigger (to get more depth of field) you need to take the shutter speed they recommended and go down 6 shutter speed increments.

    9. Lastly most DSLR's like my D60 have a setting like D-lighting. This is to tell the camera, "yes I am taking a night shot and I want the overall average to be dark (not average grey like a reg photo)", Mr. camera please put the settings on something that will underexpose this photo." This works well as a starting point , but doesn't always go underexposed enough for landscape lighting.

    This may be too basic, or most probably already know, but maybe it will help with a general understanding for someone starting. (BTW many of you take phenomenal nigh time shots already).

    Good luck!

  7. BZACK

    BZACK LawnSite Member
    Messages: 30

    Nice points, Alan.

    I would add that while an aperture of f22 provides the greatest depth of field, this aperture may not provide the sharpest image. This depends on the formula of the lens, focal length, the manufacturer, etc., but most of the time slightly larger aperatures, i.e., f8-f11, etc. will provide better center-to-edge sharpness. Of course, for better DOF try shorter focal lengths as well.

    Best regards,
  8. Alan B

    Alan B Sponsor
    Male, from tampa, fl
    Messages: 446

    Bill, good point and advice.

    Another note, a lot will have to do with how you frame the shot and when you take the photo. Reduce the extreme contrast by shooting just after twilight rather than full darkness, and frame it remove over contrast areas.
  9. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,180

    very good stuff! We should all be taking good photos and posting them up here with all this good info.
  10. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    Alan- thanks for the basic stuff, I got my canon Xsi recently and I am still experimenting with it to get great shots.

    I think James said it best in his project number 8 thread, he took about 250 pictures and 11-15 of them look good. I find myself tring many different ISO's and F-stops, along with several different tripod locations and different zoom spots on my lens just to try and get those "good" shots.

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