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Join photographer and teacher Ben Long as he describes the tools, creative options, and special considerations involved in shooting with a DSLR camera at night or in low-light conditions, such as sunset or candlelight. The course addresses exposure decisions such as choice of aperture and shutter speed and how they impact depth of field and the camera’s ability to freeze motion.
Ben also shows how to obtain accurate color balance in tungsten and fluorescent lighting situations, and how to postprocess the images in Photoshop to remove noise caused by higher ISO settings. He also demonstrates accessories that can greatly expand your low-light photography options.
Shooting in the city at night is not that much different than shooting in the city during the daytime. Just as in the day, you are going to wander around and you are going to look for good light, and when you find good light, you are going to work it. You are going to try to find the subject within it somewhere. You are going experiment in different ways and see what you can make out of that scenario. Now the big difference is that during the day, of course, your light is predominately coming from overhead and it's casting a very particular kind of shadows and illuminating things in a very particular kind of way. Maybe it's also reflecting off of buildings and things and creating some indirect light that's very nice, but it's still all coming over from overhead.
At nighttime, your lights coming from lots of different places and it's lots of different colors. You have got light a bit above you, but you also got light coming directly from the side. It's all different colors. It's casting lots of very different kinds of shadows. Areas that you've seen during the day that you see nothing interesting in might be very, very different and very compelling at night time, as the light changes and color and shadow really rearranges itself compared what it looks like in the daytime. This is the fun part of working at night. Otherwise, mundane situations may become very, very interesting.
Now technically, you're not going to do anything different than what we've already been talking about as regards to low-light exposure. You are going to be balancing ISO versus noise, versus image quality, trying to maintain your shutter speed, and considering your depth of field as you try to keep your shutter speed up. Because of all of these bright point light sources that are around, like streetlights and window lights and things, you are going to be running very often into high-dynamic-range situations that are going to be driving your light meter crazy.
We are going to look at some ways of dealing with those. You are also very often going to be finding that a scene that looks really night- like and dark, the way your camera wants to expose it, when the image is done, it's going to look pretty bright, maybe even like daytime. We are going to show you some ways of dealing with that. One thing you might want to consider when working at night is to shift into a black-and-white mindset, because very often at night it's entirely about light, it's entirely just shadow, light, dark, and that's very often--you can express that better in black and white than you can in color.
If you are not used to working in black and white, take a look at my Foundations of Photography: Black and White course for more information on how to shoot and process black and white. Now you maybe thinking, well yeah, you're in a big city, you can go out and do low-light urban shooting; I live in the small town, I can't. Absolutely not true. Yes, we have got all these bright lights and tall buildings around, but you can find interesting light at night in any kind of small town. Urban situation, rural situations there is still going to be streetlights, there is still going to be lights coming out of people's windows, there is still going to be very different shadows, very different lighting than what you used to in the daytime.
So don't let your location be an excuse not to get your camera, go out at night, and try some of what you have seen here and what we are going to show you in the next couple of movies.
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