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UER Forum > Archived UE Photo Critiques > Incinerator (Viewed 416 times)

Location: Montreal
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< on 9/27/2013 5:31 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
Hi! I'm very new to photography, and specially to taking photos in complete darkness. I'd like some tips on how to take better pictures in the dark (what kind of equipment, lights, exposure settings, techniques). Here are the best pictures I took at my last exploration session...

Also, I have a question about the camera I'm using (a Canon T2i). When I try to take a picture in darkness and there is not enough light, the focus turns red instead of green and stops me from taking a picture even if I'd like to. Is the only way to bypass this problem to set manual focusing?







[last edit 9/27/2013 6:06 PM by Aliksir - edited 1 times]


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Re: Incinerator
<Reply # 1 on 9/29/2013 1:41 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
There are a few helpful tricks that'll help you with your low-light photos... use a laser pointer or your flashlight to create a point for your camera's auto focus to lock on to, then turn it back off for the actual photo. I'd recommend a red filter for your flashlight if you go that route to avoid blinding yourself.

When you're trying to frame your photo in the dark it can really help to take all your shots at the highest ISO possible until you get one that looks right, then retake it at a proper ISO. This saves you from taking several 10-30s exposures that you don't end up keeping because you had to re-adjust your camera's position.

As for lighting, I always just use available light, so I can't help you much there. I can only recommend not using a flashlight, as the beam is too narrow and sharp for a good photo. Something that casts diffuse light in a wider radius would be your best bet, and it's best to have it shining from the side, not from the same direction as the camera.
[last edit 9/29/2013 1:42 PM by FloodSpectre - edited 1 times]

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Re: Incinerator
<Reply # 2 on 9/30/2013 5:26 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
As for lighting, I always just use available light, so I can't help you much there. I can only recommend not using a flashlight, as the beam is too narrow and sharp for a good photo. Something that casts diffuse light in a wider radius would be your best bet, and it's best to have it shining from the side, not from the same direction as the camera.

I bought a black and decker flood light and fixed parchment paper around the light using elastics. It diffuses the light quite well if you double up the parchment paper. Only thing is that it makes the photo kind of yellowed out. That is easy to fix in post though.

Here is a photo I too using my ghetto diffuser:

The only thing is that you can't use the flashlight as your main light because it dies fast. When I took this photo, it was nearly pitch black in there, only enough light to barely see where you were going.
[last edit 9/30/2013 5:27 PM by nb198 - edited 1 times]


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Re: Incinerator
<Reply # 3 on 10/22/2013 6:16 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
Disclaimer: I'm no expert but I've been a photography hobbyist for years.

+1 using available light.

I've found it's very difficult to take very nice pictures in pitch black urbex locations. Getting it to look good requires a lot of effort and creativity with the lighting. So I also just stick to available light if I'm trying to take artistic photos, even if it means coming back at a different time to get the right light.

I assume FloodSpectre meant for you to turn off the autofocus (as well as the light/laser) after you've used your flashlight or laser pointer to get the focus you want. I use this technique a lot, especially when doing panoramas or HDR work (so the focus can't change in between exposures). Just don't forget to turn autofocus back on afterward. That's totally messed me up a few times
The tip about using a high ISO until you're all ready is a great idea too.

In addition to the parchment paper, another thing you could use (depending on the light source you have available) are those white "china ball" light shades from Ikea. (Maybe stick your portable omnidirectional light source inside of it?)

I think the lighting in your #4 photo is a good start for using artificial light sources. In #1-3 I think you could play with light on the floor gratings or pipes, from above or below. Remember, it's all about the play between light and shadow. (Try some black and white photography to help get a feel for this.)

Keep up the good work.


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Re: Incinerator
<Reply # 4 on 10/23/2013 6:04 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
If there is absolutely 0 light or not enough to expose your shot properly, then you can also light paint with your flashlight during the long exposure. I avoid this approach if I can, but it's helped me out in a few situations.


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Re: Incinerator
<Reply # 5 on 11/8/2013 11:49 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
In low light levels, I usually try to use available natural light as much as possible. Light from the sky or moon is the best. Given enough exposure time, you can go anywhere from dark and moody on up to daylight conditions. Optionally, paint in some extra lighting for interest.

For light painting, I usually use the cheap LED glowsticks available from WalMart. Stay away from the purple and darker blue ones as they don't expose well at all. Light (sky) blue, red, green, pink and orange are all awesome. It's also great fun to make trails and "flames" with the glowsticks by moving them in the air in direct view of the camera. For more general illumination of a scene with a flashlight, I quickly paint the light source up and down as I scan across the scene from side to side. Keeping the light moving quickly will soften it up and make it look more even.

Light from other room, blue glowstick

I prefer doing most of my light painting in total or near darkness, away from any other light sources. It usually takes some fiddling with exposure times to get the desired result, but it's fun and I totally enjoy doing it. Always keep in mind that when running around in the field of view of the camera, any light source that paints you will cause you to be partially exposed on the image. Also, any light source bright enough behind you will cause a shadow of you to be seen. When moving around a scene, do it in as near dark as possible, or use a very small light source with a tiny slit of visible light to highlight the ground in front of you only.

Red and pink glowsticks, light from upper floor window. Note shadow of me painted in by exposure to lighting.

Blue and green glowsticks just outside frame, quick brush with white flashlight

A lot of the objects in your scenes are metallic as well. Metals are difficult to get to look right as they have some reflectivity and will cause bright highlights which if not managed well will look weird.

Take some time and play around with different lighting. You can drop light sources behind the objects to cause them to be in shadow. Or, to drop back some of the harsh reflections, run way off to the side with your brighter light sources. Try many different angles to see their effects, then choose what you feel is the better way to light the scene and work on exposure times and light sources from there. There is no one single solution that will work here. It all depends on what you want to do with it.

Your location has some potential to do some fun camera work. Enjoy it. Play and learn. Keep making changes and see how things turn out.

Honesty may be the best policy, but it's important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy. -George Carlin (1937 - 2008)
UER Forum > Archived UE Photo Critiques > Incinerator (Viewed 416 times)

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