Night photography requires a lot of patience and a methodical and thought out set up. There is simply not enough light to just point and shoot and get a quality image. And because so much goes into each shot, I like to put a lot of time into the composition before I set up the shot. I will often walk around with one eye through the viewfinder so that I know the limitations of my lens as I am setting up a shot. When I find something that catches my interest, I will then pull out my tripod and set up the composition. Then I need to find the proper exposure. I will try to keep my ISO at about 200 or lower when shooting buildings because I know my subject will stay still so shutter speed will not be an issue. Then I try to keep my aperture at about f/8-11 to keep the entire structure nice and sharp. So given those constraints, I usually end up with about a 2-4 second exposure. With that long of an exposure, I will want to minimize camera shake as much as possible. That requires a bit more than simply using a tripod. With my new D600 I have the capability of locking up my mirror. That function lifts the mirror to expose the sensor so that when the picture is taken there will be one less vibration to possibly cause camera shake in the frame. Another technique I use to reduce camera shake is using a remote shutter release. This is a system that you plug into the GPS socket in your camera that allows you to capture the shot without touching the camera and when your shutter is open more than a 50th of a second, that extra little shake caused by pressing the cameras release could blur your image. So that is how I captured some of these night scenes, and hopefully you can appreciate a little bit more of the process it takes to capture that detail in the limited light. To make a night shot interesting, I usually am looking for a mix of direct light and the ambient light that lights the scene. For a great shot including both the ambient light and the city lights of the skyscrapers as seen above, you need to go right after dusk. There is about a 30 minute window from where the sun is setting and the city lights are turning on that are great for this ambient look. Yesterday, we arrived in Miami just at sunset so I dropped some of the guys off at a restaraunt and drove immediately to this island where you get a great view of the skyline. I worked there about an hour testing exposures and bracketing a bunch until the sun was completely out of the picture and complete darkness had settled in. I took about 100 exposures from the same general area just hoping that in the end I would find one with a great mix of city light and setting sun light. The one you see above I think did the best job at capturing both. There are a lot more shots that I hope to ultimately stitch together and do some HDR techniques to to get some more unique shots. Can’t wait to get to those!
After watching that beautiful sunset over Miami, I went back to downtown Miami to join the rest of the guys at Cien Montaditos. Every Wednesday they have dollarmania where every sandwich on their menu was only a dollar! It was a bustling place and we were all pretty satisfied with the variety of sandwiches we got at this little Spanish restraunt. We spent the rest of the night just walking around the city checking out some of the sweet street art and the amazing architecture! Miami was an awesome city!!
These were shot with my Nikon D600 with my 28-75 mm f/2.8.
The top night shot was taken at 28mm with f/11 ISO200 with a shutterspeed of 4 seconds.