Okay here’s a little bonus entry for all of you beginner night photographers. Ever notice how hard it is to get a proper exposure of something that’s lit up at night? If you do a long exposure of that lit subject, it ends up that the rest of the photo is too dark, or the subject is overexposed. I figured out that the best way to solve this problem is by “dodging” certain areas of the photo during the exposure.
In this particular photo, the exposure was 13 seconds at f8. Shot normally, the well-lit church would be completely white and overexposed. My technique is to use hold the lens cap close to the lens, obscuring the brightest parts of the image. In the photo above, I covered the top portion for at least 9 seconds of that 13 second exposure. I move the lens cap back and forth quickly during that 9 seconds, so that the area is blended, and doesn’t just appear as a darker circle in the final image. The bottom part of the image gets the full 13 second exposure, so the reflection is nice and bright.
The lens cap is great for most things, but experiment with other items for blocking the light. When I first started using this technique, I was using my fingers to block the light, but I found that I’d get strange color patches in the image because light was reflecting off my skin and into the photo. I find that a soft piece of black cloth is the best, because it reflects no light, and can be folded into different shapes to be more precise with the dodging. Plus, it won’t scratch your lens as you move it around.
I always try to get the exposure as close as possible to perfect in the camera. That way you don’t lose image quality or create excess noise by manipulating the levels too much in Photoshop.
Try this out and be creative with it. Let me know how it goes!