Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cambridge by night

Last night, a chum and I headed off to take some long exposure night shots around Cambridge. It was really to help him learn his new DSLR (Nikon D300, the one with the great high ISO performance), since he's quite new to photography, and never had a DSLR before. I was hampered by the fact that I have lost the tripod shoe to attach my camera to the tripod, so had to balance the camera on whatever structures were available. Not ideal, but I coped.

The first image was taken near the Mill pond, by balancing the camera on the camera bag, so quite low down. Long exposure (30", f9, 400 ISO). Got some nice colours and soft movement on the river and sky. It was very dark indeed, so focussing was an issue. I can't rely on manual focus due to wearing glasses, so I locked on to one of the distant lights as a focus point. I also used the live view, but this was bad in such low light to focus.

The next image was again 30", f9, 1SO 400. This was balanced on fence post. The original RAW was very close to this image, but slightly darkened the sky (one RAW processing) and slightly adjusted the foreground and buildings (a second processing of the RAW), and blended the resultant tiffs in PS. I then cloned out some distracting grasses that were right in front of the camera and blurry, adjusted levels, cropped a little and then the image was complete. Quite like this one. It's a shame about the bright branches upper right, but couldn't be avoided due to where I had to place the camera. I considered cloning them out, but couldn't face the hours that would take...

Comments welcomed.


1 comment:

Damian Lidgard said...

A big pat on the back for going out and shooting. I have been meaning to do that for a while. Does take some effort.

Of the two images here I much prefer the latter. In the first I don't like the hues. Is the white balance set right? I don't like the foreground because its dark and obstructs the water. Of all of the elements in the photo, I like the trees the best. However, I realise the difficulty shooting without a tripod.

The second image for me is much better. Really nice lighting and gives the feeling that this cathedral is in some remote field somewhere. I would never have guessed it was Cambridge. Nice. Sky has great colour too. The cathedral is very much present but not dominating. Nice trees. The only real downside is the branches and tree coming in from the right; quire annoying. However, given the shooting difficulties I can let that go.

So I would certainly return to the second scene and try to improve the composition, with tripod if possible.