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      08-01-2013, 08:17 PM   #1
HarrisonK
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how to photograph lights at night

I want to take some detailed pictures of my lights on my e92 at night but cannot get my camera to focus correctly on the lights. All I get are big blurs of light. Can anyone explain how to take these shots?
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      08-01-2013, 10:47 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarrisonK View Post
I want to take some detailed pictures of my lights on my e92 at night but cannot get my camera to focus correctly on the lights. All I get are big blurs of light. Can anyone explain how to take these shots?
It's probably easiest just to switch to MF.

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      08-02-2013, 12:38 AM   #3
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Off camera Flash (to illuminate the car if you so wish) and a faster shutter speed will help you capture the lights on your car. Otherwise you will just get multipointed sunstars instead of what your lights actually look like when shooting slow speeds. Getting car lights is one of the trickier things to do if you've never done it before.
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      08-02-2013, 09:07 AM   #4
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I'm confused, is the car moving or still?
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      08-02-2013, 09:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarrisonK View Post
I want to take some detailed pictures of my lights on my e92 at night but cannot get my camera to focus correctly on the lights. All I get are big blurs of light. Can anyone explain how to take these shots?
If the car is still, a solid tri-pod (to reduce amount of movement) and switch to manual focusing.

Also, could use some information on how you are shooting, what camera you are shooting with, what kind of light setup?
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      08-02-2013, 09:30 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarrisonK View Post
I want to take some detailed pictures of my lights on my e92 at night but cannot get my camera to focus correctly on the lights. All I get are big blurs of light. Can anyone explain how to take these shots?
Your "focusing" problem may really be a metering problem. The dynamic range between the lights and the car is HUGE. If you have the lights on and want details of the lights, then you'll need to stop down five or six stops (I'm guessing) or perhaps use a ND filter to get the lights. When you do that, the car will be almost black. To fix that, you'll need to turn the lights off, take a proper exposure of the car and then combine the shots with an HDR program. A tripod will help, but you can hand hold this if you are good enough to consistently hold the camera in the same spot and let the software make up for your inevitable error.

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      09-23-2013, 09:27 AM   #7
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I have been doing what you are looking to do. I have mixed results but I always shoot with a tripod at night and will shoot with manual focus as required.

There are a few more tips I can give you and most require some off camera flash, light painting and editing techniques.
Depending on if you like my results or not I can always show you how
If you feel like driving up to NJ.
Bring the car and gear. I will bring mine and we can shoot around Philly near where I live.

You can see my stuff here.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mik3ymomo/
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      09-23-2013, 10:00 AM   #8
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Here are a few examples.


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      09-23-2013, 10:06 AM   #9
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Or maybe like this..
I am kinda new to this but have had one night out with the car.
Shot plenty of night stuff as far as city scapes. Its a bit trickier adding car or bike in foreground.
I expose for the background and light up foreground subject with off camera flash.



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      09-25-2013, 11:34 PM   #10
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Hey mike, love those shots!

Cheers,
the other mike
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      10-19-2013, 08:31 PM   #11
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Hi Mike

[quote=Mik3ymomo;14705651]Here are a few examples.
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/mik3ymomo/8618471144/]

These are fantastic shots! Are you doing long exposures with an ND filter? Clouds in one of the shots look like it. How long are the exposures?
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      10-30-2013, 07:22 PM   #12
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[quote=Fw190D;14840217]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mik3ymomo View Post
Here are a few examples.
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/mik3ymomo/8618471144/]

These are fantastic shots! Are you doing long exposures with an ND filter? Clouds in one of the shots look like it. How long are the exposures?
Most of the shots are 30 seconds or less. Occasionally I will do a longer exposure but its a different setting on the camera and I can get what I need for light in 30 seconds or less usually. Even stopped down to F14-F22.

I don't want it so bright it looks like daytime.

I do not use an ND filter.
These are some I took in the last few weeks.





Off camera flash on the car.

I shoot with a Nikon D800 and various lenses. Mostly with the Nikon 24-70 F2.8
Also I use a carbon fiber Gitzo 5542LS tripod and Arca Swiss ball head.
Nikon remote and a Nikon SB-900 flash.
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      10-30-2013, 08:40 PM   #13
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All great, but I really dig the second one!
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      10-31-2013, 09:14 AM   #14
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Those pictures are stunning Mike! Can I get these results with an entry level SLR (T4i) and a Neewer TT560 (cheap but functional) flash? If you have time, I'd love to meet up and get a few pointers. Thanks!
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      11-01-2013, 04:38 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Those pictures are stunning Mike! Can I get these results with an entry level SLR (T4i) and a Neewer TT560 (cheap but functional) flash? If you have time, I'd love to meet up and get a few pointers. Thanks!
You can get similar results but it will depend on a few factors besides just which body you shoot with. The lens, color of the car, ambient light or other light sources that "help" as well as a decent tripod, remote, proper camera setup and a big one..
Editing software and technique.

But anyone can do what I did here. I am no pro and only consider myself an advanced hobbyist.

You are welcome to come shoot with me. I enjoy shooting with other photogs and helping people with their technique.
I usually pick up some valuable things myself in the process.
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