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.


Lighting Equipment

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