Are They Real?
All the pictures on this site were shot at night during the full moon cycle or in low light situations. They're all 100% real, these are not Photoshop creations. All the lighting effects were done while the shutter was open, what you see is exactly what my camera saw. The exposure times range from 1-8 minutes, sometimes longer. The only post processing I do is white balancing and slight exposure and contrast adjustment. Everything I do in Photoshop can be done in a traditional dark room. I do not manipulate my work with the exception of cloning out lens flare from time to time.
Camera and Lens
Camera choice is a part of night photography. I prefer shooting with a digital SLR at night, it allows me more flexibility and productivity at night over film. There are many different DSLR manufactures, but the most important thing to consider is buying a DSLR with a CMOS sensor. Even an older DSLR with a CMOS sensor will work. When I first decided to switch to digital and shoot strictly at night I had a Canon Digital Rebel that I bought used. For the past few years I have been shooting with a Canon 30D.
Most of the locations I shoot at are really cramped for space. For this kind of tight shooting a wide angle lens is almost mandatory. Backing up to fit the subject in the frame is seldom an option. My main lens is a 12-24mm Tokina and I use a cheap 19-35mm Tamron as backup. Most of my pictures were taken at an aperture of f/5.6, so a wide angle also helps with a deep depth of field at such a low aperture. If I am shooting wide enough, everything from around three feet in front of my camera to infinity will be in focus.
My lighting equipment is very minimal. Every thing I do is handheld. I do not use triggers or big lighting equipment. I do all the lighting one part at a time. Sometimes I will walk in front of the camera while doing the lighting, but I don't show up because the exposures are so long. The majority of my lighting is done with flashlights. Sometimes I will use a flash for a big area, but I prefer take my time and use a flashlight. Flashlight are more time consuming then a flash, but you have way more control of the light and any light spill. The color effects are done with colored theatrical gels. I simply hold them over the flashlight or flash and light up the desired area.
On a typical night I will have 3-4 flashlights with me and maybe a cheap flash. All my flashlights are LED. I like starting with a cool light. It is easy to use a gel and turn a cool light warm, but not the other way around. I also like LED's because they are very efficient. Another thing I look for in a flashlight is the kind of batteries it takes. In order to keep some sort of order in the camera bag and to keep things simple I will only use a flashlight that uses AA or AAA cells.
The brightness of a flashlight is a big deal and it is easy to have too bright of a light. My main flashlight puts out a claimed 80 lumens. It is ideal for most situations. When I need more light I will use my 170 lumen flashlight. This one really only gets used in big areas or with dark gels. I also use a little flashlight that is not very bright, it is great for up close lighting of bright or metallic surfaces. My last flashlight is only used for headlights, or anything I need to use a tight circle of light on.
As far as a flash goes, any flash that you can manually fire will work. A flash that you can adjust the power level on is choice but not mandatory. I have had a lot generic flashes. Flashes are my sore spot, I kill them quick. I have had a few nice flashes, but after a few crashes into the ground they weren't nice anymore. These days I just pick up used flashes at camera shows. I don't feel as bad when they fall out of my pocket while climbing up or jumping down something
All content and images on this site are © Copyright Mike Hows / TakenPictures - No Unauthorized Use or Reproduction Allowed without My Prior Written Permission