Category Archives: 20 Available light

Exercise: Outdoors at Night

The brief:

The aim of this exercise is to explore the variety of lighting effects and colour in artificial light. A tripod and cable release might be useful for longer exposures, but are not essential if you decide to take the photographs at a high ISO setting.

Try to include in your shooting the following:

  • a floodlit building (look for a viewpoint from where the lights themselves are hidden)
  • a brightly-lit store-front
  • a large interior with many people, such as a shopping centre (but check to make sure that photography is specifically prohibited, as it might be on private property). Do not use a tripod for this setting.
  • a raised view looking along a busy road, such as from a pedestrian overpass. The idea in this shot is to catch the headlights and tail-lights of traffic as streaks.
Fig 01 - BMW Automall

Fig 01 – BMW Automall
f5, 1/25, 34mm, ISO 400

In fig 01 the sun had just set and this building’s lights had just come one. The display of BMWs were illuminated by LED lights on a timer. This image was done hand-held.

Fig 02 - Car trails on Lonsdale Ave

Fig 02 – Car trails on Lonsdale Ave
f8, 1/3, 28mm, ISO 100

Our overpasses in Vancouver don’t afford a lot of room to stand on so I opted rather to stand on the side of a busy road ( fig 02) and catch the car-trails of the cars going down the road. Taken with the aid of a tripod.

Fig 03 - Christmas lights

Fig 03 – Christmas lights
f8, 5 sec, 44mm, ISO 100

Christmas eve had me out in our street photographing all the neighbours’ Christmas lights (fig 03). This neighbour just had a few strings of lights, but I liked the way the lighting in the doorway was concealed, creating a welcoming atmosphere. Tripod was used.

Fig 04 - City Skyline

Fig 04 – City Skyline
f5.6, 10 sec, 40mm, ISO 100

Fig 04 is a cityscape that I had taken while I was just finishing up the colour assignment. The city in the background is illuminated with mainly fluorescent lighting, while the memorial in the foreground was illuminated with spotlight (I think it was sodium vapour as it had a slight pink tinge) that was behind me. Tripod was used.

Fig 05 - HOpe Centre

Fig 05 – HOpe Centre
f4.5, 4 sec, 18mm, ISO 100

I’ve been wanting to photograph our new Psychiatric hospital (fig 05) ever since it was completed just recently so this was the perfect opportunity to do this. I only had my 18-55 kit lens with me unfortunately and the ideal position to photograph this building would have been right in the middle of the busy road (not a good idea). I think I will try and go back with a telephoto so that I can shoot from across the street. I did have to bring the highlights down using local adjustments as it was quite difficult to measure the correct exposure due to the different intensity of the lights. Tripod was used.

Fig 06 - North Vancouver Public Library

Fig 06 – North Vancouver Public Library
f11, 1/3, 32mm, ISO 100

Fig 06 features a view of the North Vancouver Public Library through the Continuum sculpture by Katherine Kerr. The sculpture is inscribed with details of key events of the past 100 years. I think fluorescent lighting is in use in the library, but I’m not sure what kind of light is used to illuminate the sculpture. Tripod was used.

Fig 07 - North Vancouver City Hall Square

Fig 07 – North Vancouver City Hall Square
f4, 10 sec, 24mm, ISO 100

A slight change of position from the previous photo brings the city square’s fountain and clock into view. This was a long exposure so I used a tripod. LED lights are strung up in the tree, while there is probably a mix fluorescent and tungsten lighting in the apartment buildings in the background.

Fig 08 - Persian store

Fig 08 – Persian store
f5.6, 1/3, 55mm, ISO 100

In fig 08 one can see people doing some last minute shopping for their evening meal. I positioned myself across the street from this brightly-lit grocery shop and used my tripod as a monopod to take this shot. Because of the slow shutter speed one can see some motion blur from the shoppers.

Fig 09 - Fountain reflections

Fig 09 – Fountain reflections
f4, 2.5 sec, 20mm, ISO 100

Back at the city square I noticed the overhead neon lights from a restaurant reflecting in the water of the fountain. I like the way the steps provide some framework and dimension to the image, and the ripples of the water that is lit is created by the fountain a little further off the camera’s right frame. Tripod was used.

Fig 10 - Stairs HOpe Centre

Fig 10 – Stairs HOpe Centre
f4,8, 4 sec, 32mm, ISO 100

The combination of street, interior and staircase lighting gave these concrete steps (fig 10) a beautiful warm glow. After taking the image I noticed the shadow of the tree which was cast on the steps (camera left) which just added an extra dimension to the image. Tripod was used.

 

Fig 11 - Waves Coffee Shop

Fig 11 – Waves Coffee Shop
f3.8, 1/50, 20mm, ISO 800

Fig 11 features an image of my favourite coffee shop that I pass everyday en route from work. This image was hand-held. I did a slight crop in post processing so that the two big pillars would provide a lead in frame, thus emphasising the name and doorway to the shop. The interior lighting casts a pleasant glow on the brickwork on the sidewalk.

Fig 12 - Subway

Fig 12 – Subway
f5.6, 1/50, 18mm, ISO 200

Fig 12 features the interior of a Subway sandwich shop. The lighting is mainly fluorescent, but the hanging lights might be tungsten. There is definitely a difference in the tone of the light sources. This image was also hand-held.

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Exercise: Tungsten and fluorescent lighting

The brief:

Part 1: Compose a photograph in which both the interior lit by tungsten lamps and the exterior at dusk are both visible. Wait until the light levels inside and outside are approximately equal, and take three photographs, as follows: with the white balance set to Auto, daylight and finally to tungsten. Compare the results. What differences do you note?

 

Fig 01 - Auto setting with tungsten lighting

Fig 01 – Auto setting with tungsten lighting
f5.6, 1/40, 52mm, ISO 200

Fig 02 - Daylight setting with tungsten lighting

Fig 02 – Daylight setting with tungsten lighting
f5.6, 1/60, 52mm, ISO 200

Fig 03 - Tungsten setting with tungsten lighting

Fig 03 – Tungsten setting with tungsten lighting
f5.6, 1/60, 52mm, ISO 200

I had to take these photos before dusk as the one and only tungsten light I have in my dining room is very weak and it would not have held up sufficiently. It was early afternoon and the overhead tungsten light was illuminating my husband’s face. The outside is visible through the lounge window, but I have fiddled with the exposure in post-processing to try and equalize the inside and outside slightly. The Auto and Daylight settings handle the exterior scenario better than the tungsten, which renders the exterior with a markedly blue tinge. The tungsten setting handles facial complexion better than the Daylight and Auto settings which are in turn too orange. If we look at the ceiling, the Daylight setting handles the ambient light better as there is no blue colour cast on the ceiling in Fig 02, while Fig 01 has a very slight colour cast and Fig 03 is heavily colour casted.

Part 2: Fine two different interiors lit by fluorescent lamps. If possible, make one of these an interior lit by the small CFL lamps. Take two or three photographs, identically composed, in each location. The first image should be with the white balance set to Auto, the second to fluorescent, and if there is a choice of different fluorescent settings, the third to the alternative fluorescent. Compare the results, and note the differences.

Fig 04 - Auto setting with CFL lighting

Fig 04 – Auto setting with CFL lighting
f4.2, 1/3, 26mm, ISO 100

Fig 05 - White fluorescent setting with CFL lighting

Fig 05 – White fluorescent setting with CFL lighting
f5.6, 1/4, 26mm, ISO 100

Fig 06 - Cool-white fluorescent setting with CFL lighting

Fig 06 – Cool-white fluorescent setting with CFL lighting
f5.6, 1/4, 26mm, ISO 100

I had to go hunting for a CFL bulb for this part of the exercise as we have switched all our lighting over to LEDs due to the efficiency.The Auto setting did a pretty decent job rendering the colour of the wall, but the two fluorescent settings have done a number of the paint job. Fig 05 with the warm fluorescent setting is the better of the two settings.

Fig 07 - Auto setting with LED lighting

Fig 07 – Auto setting with LED lighting
f5.6, 1/60, 26mm, ISO 100

Fig 08 - White fluorescent setting with LED lighting

Fig 08 – White fluorescent setting with LED lighting
f5.6, 1/60, 26mm, ISO 100

Fig 09 - Cool-white fluorescent setting with LED lighting

Fig 09 – Cool-white fluorescent setting with LED lighting
f5.6, 1/40, 26mm, ISO 100

Not finding any more CFLs in my house I photographed my second interior using LED lighting. All the settings are quite acceptable although the warm fluorescent setting in fig 08 appears cooler than the images taken with Auto and Cool-white fluorescent settings. I prefer the cool-white fluorescent setting because it has added a bit of warmth to the image. The blue colour cast on the side of the cupboard in camera bottom left is due to the sunlight coming through the door to the right.