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EXPOSURE 13 secs, feature f/8, ISO100 Special LENS Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8

The Manual on Manual



embrace the night

Night shots are much easier in manual, and here’s why ight photography can yield some spectacular images, but it’s unlikely that your camera will be able to give you the results you want if it’s left on automatic. This is because the scene will contain a much greater brightness range than normal daylight. Today’s Nikon D-SLRs don’t



August 2014

have any trouble measuring the low light levels you get at night, but they do have trouble working out which parts of the scene to base the exposure on. In regular daylight, the light source for the scene (the sun) is usually not visible. If it were in the frame it would completely dominate the exposure and everything else would come out as a silhouette. At night, you don’t get the sun in the frame, but you do get countless miniature light sources, like streetlamps, neon signs and car headlights. These ‘mini-suns’ are far brighter than their surroundings, and dominate the camera’s exposure reading. Use auto mode and you’ll end up with some bright pinpoints of light surrounded by darkness. You can use the camera’s EV compensation control to try to adjust the exposure, but the only really reliable way to get good exposures at night is to switch to manual mode. Once you’ve done this you can use trial and error to arrive at a good exposure for the scene. It

might take a couple of attempts, but you’ll soon get a feel for different situations and the kind of exposure you might need. For example, for a busy city street light by floodlights and neon signs, you might find that an exposure of a couple of seconds at a medium aperture of f/8 is about right, but for darker suburban streets you might need to increase that to 30 seconds or longer.

Don’t use Auto ISO

Your Nikon’s Auto ISO option can be invaluable for shooting in low light with the camera handheld, because it will adjust the ISO automatically to give what the camera thinks is the right exposure. However, this means handing control back to the camera in a situation where you know it’s not going to give good results. It’s much better to put the camera on a tripod, because then you can use your camera’s lowest ISO setting for best quality, and it won’t matter how long the exposure is because the camera will be kept