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Night and Long Exposure Photography Tips and Techniques

Lightning Photography Tips by Exposure Guide

Lightning Photography Tips

Lightning is dramatic, extremely fast, a challenge to photograph and potentially dangerous. There are various techniques involved with capturing great photos of lightning. Since lightning is extremely fast, (30 microseconds or 30/1000000s) you must be quick. Above all, be safe, as lightning kills.

You’ll want to disengage the autofocus on your lens, and set it to Infinity (the sideways 8 on the lens barrel); this isn’t always apparent on some digital lens, so you have to figure this out for your given lens. Manual focus is better than autofocus when you’re photographing lighting, because the lightning will definitely fool the autofocus sensor. Setting the lens to infinity gives your maximum depth of field, such that when the lightning does strike in the distance you’ll have the lightning and the deep background in sharp focus. Objects closer to the camera will definitely be out of focus, but they’re not your main subject any way – so don’t worry about them or frame them out ahead of time.

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Night Sky Photography Tips by Exposure Guide

Night Sky Photography Tips

The night sky is variable. Some nights are grey and overcast, some filled with stars, yet others are busy with the movement of clouds on weather fronts. Long shutter speeds are the key to capturing imaginative and beautiful images of the sky at night, so be patient and this kind of photography will become second nature to you.

Due to the Earth’s rotation about its axis, it seems that the light from stars moves in circles around the celestial pole. These movements are detectable after about 5 to 10 minutes, and can be traced by your camera in the form of a streak. To photograph this magical effect, you need a sturdy tripod and lots of patience. Focus the lens to infinity and set the camera’s mode at Manual or Bulb shooting mode. With the use of a cable release you will capture the stars moving across the sky. These exposures can be a few minutes to several hours long. If you keep few things in mind, such as the timing, composition, and power of the battery, you can make photographing star trails simpler for you.

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Long Exposure Photography Tips by Exposure Guide

Long Exposure Photography Tips

A useful technique in night photography is the long exposure. The effects that can be captured with a long exposure are stunning and have an ethereal quality. The most important tool that you will need is a sturdy tripod, and a DSLR camera that allows for long exposures.

Traffic head light and tail light trails give a stunning effect and are a great way to get acquainted with long exposure times. Select a busy road that has lots of traffic at night. Use a sturdy tripod and position the camera so that it has an overview of the area. Use a small aperture of f/16 or smaller for a greater depth of field, making most of the image in focus. The longer the exposure, the more lines will appear and the longer they will look.

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cityscape photography tips by Exposure Guide

Cityscape Photography Tips

Most of us will live in or near a big city. Amongst the concrete and tall buildings there is an opportunity to capture the cityscapes from an interesting angle; at nighttime. Once it gets dark in a city, the artificial lights come on and create the opportunity for some stunning shots.

To take a photograph of a cityscape once the evening has come, find a spot that shows off all the buildings and office lights that are lit. Place the camera on a tripod, and turn the mode dial to AV (aperture priority) mode; we want f/8 and upwards for a greater depth of field. Use your camera’s self-timer or a cable release to take the photo with absolutely no blurring. The best time for this kind of shot is during the two “golden hours” which are the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset.

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Light Painting Techniques

Long Exposure Effects and Light Painting

Learn how to light-paint like a pro! This module covers everything you need to know on capturing those beautiful illuminated long exposure photos you have been dreaming about. With over 60 pages reviewing different light sources describing what they do and how to use them, you won’t ever find yourself in the dark without a bright idea!

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Attila Kun the author

Attila is the founder and editor-in-chief of Exposure Guide. He is an avid photographer, graphic designer, bedroom DJ and devoted Mac addict. Attila got his first DSLR camera, a Canon 10D, back in 2003 and he has been hooked on photography ever since. He is deeply passionate about helping people learn about photography.

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