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Landscapes at Night

Landscapes at Night

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Published by: Scribme_too on Dec 06, 2012
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12/06/2012

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©©©©
Steve Paxton. All Rights Reserved.www.paxtonprints.com
 
This image was exposed for 640-seconds at f-3.5 under nearly pitch black lighting.
 
Capture Stunning LandscapeImages in the Black of Night
Many photographers assume that oncethe sun goes down, so do theopportunities to take spectacularlandscape images. Some of my favoritephotographs were taken under extremelylow light or nearly pitch-black conditions.In fact, I have found that the darker it isthe better results I usually get in myimages. You are more likely to pick upunusual colors not typically visible to thenaked eye while capturing wonderfulstreaks in the sky when shooting at night.Here are a few suggestions that will helpyou capture great nighttime landscapes.
Scout out locations duringdaylight hours.
 
This is extremely important because it willbe difficult at best to find good placessuitable for nighttime photography duringhours of darkness. I normally try to findseveral potential spots where I can go toshoot during a single trip out. Look forareas where it is safe to park your car andwhere you might be able to setup yourtripod. I have found myself standing rightnext to lonely country roads, in deepditches, and over irrigation sloughs to get just the right composition. Having aspecific place to setup in mind before itgets dark can save you a lot of time andfrustration.
Find a strong subject to anchor your image
 
 A good landscape image typically hassomething of interest in the foreground tograb the viewer’s attention. Whether it isan old barn, hollowed out tree, or windycreek, try looking for something to makeyour image visually interesting. Also keepin mind the rule of thirds when composingyour shots.
 Avoid artificial light
The farther away you can get from citylights, the better your images will turnout. I have found that shooting in nearlypitch-dark conditions using long shutterspeeds pulls out colors and tones notgenerally visible to the naked eye. Itypically drive an hour or more to get tolocations that have few or no artificiallights. Nearby artificial lighting will not killa decent landscape image; however it canoverwhelm the subtle ambient light that isnaturally present. Remember that youcan adjust the color temperature of yourimages later in processing so do not let anearby light spoil your evening.
Do not trespass
Nothing ruins a night of landscapephotography faster than being contactedby the police for trespassing on
www.paxtonprints.com
 
129-seconds at 3.5
 
someone’s property –especially at night (Iknow this from experience). My generalrule of thumb is if the area in questionhas a fence around it, a sign postedadvising that trespassing is not allowed,or if it appears that someone is caring forthe property, I usually stay out. I havebeen pretty successful at obtainingpermission to go onto private property totake photographs; however remember todo this during the day. Being respectfuland courteous can help you get intoplaces that might be ordinarily off limits.
Take the right gear.
 
Obviously you will need a sturdy tripodand remote bulb switch for the longexposures. I almost always shootlandscapes with a wide-angle lens. If youare shooting in cooler weather, ensureyou have a fully charged camera batteryand even consider bringing a second onewith you. Between shooting in cold orcooler weather and long exposure times,battery life can dwindle quickly.Be sure to bring a couple of flashlightsalong too. I typically bring a small LEDlight to adjust the exposure and shutterspeed on my camera so as not to ruin mynight vision. I also bring a small, highintensity Surefire flashlight to quicklyshine on my foreground subject to get myimage initially focused. There is nothingmore frustrating than staying out all nightshooting landscapes just to return hometo find the main subject out of focusbecause it was too dark. I consider abright flashlight so important that I willreturn home if I forget to bring it.
Bring warm cloths and snacks
Most of my images required between 5and fifteen minutes to properly expose. Ialso typically take several shots of samecomposition at varying exposures (manualbracketing). This means that there is alot of lag time between photographs.Standing outside in the middle of thenight-even during the summertime-canget chilly. I usually wear pants; bring alight fleece jacket, cap, gloves, and lightwalking boots. I also recommend wearingsomething reflective so that passingdrivers can easily see you. Bringing alongsnacks helps the time go by while waitingbetween exposures.
Consider shooting in RAWformat
If you have not started doing this already,this might be a good time to beginshooting in RAW format. Nighttimelandscape images are typically shot withlong duration shutter speeds and theresults are unpredictable. Shooting inRAW format offers you the ability to push
www.paxtonprints.com
 
423-second exposure at 4.5taken while standing in a ditch

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