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Old Jan 18, 2010, 1:48 AM   #1
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Default Shooting tips for the "blue hour"

Hello guys,

last weekend I've been out the first time trying to shoot some blue hour shots in the morning and the evening, but I'm not so satisfied with the results.

Can you give me some advice for shooting in this special time of day - what shutter speed, f-stop, iso I should use? The only thing I know that the lowest iso would work best...

Also I was wondering on where to focus when I shoot e.g. a few minutes before the sun comes up behind a mountain - should I focus the sky, the mountain or the village lights in the valley? Is it better to use AF or MF?

One last question: Is it possible to set MF to endless/infinite (?) on my 450D with 18-55 IS?

Thank you in advance for your answers - I hope I dont't have too much questions, but I'm still a beginner

Regards,

Markus
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Old Jan 19, 2010, 7:45 AM   #2
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Can someone of the mods please move this thread to the "Newbie Help"? I think it would fit better there
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Old Jan 19, 2010, 8:51 AM   #3
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assuming you want to have the whole scene in focus you should try setting the camera to aperture priority mode then select f16 and focus about 1/3 of the way into the scene and use a tripod and remote release or self timer, because your shutter speed will be very low at those setting at that time of day
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Old Jan 19, 2010, 10:16 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maggo85 View Post
Also I was wondering on where to focus when I shoot e.g. a few minutes before the sun comes up behind a mountain - should I focus the sky, the mountain or the village lights in the valley? Is it better to use AF or MF?

One last question: Is it possible to set MF to endless/infinite (?) on my 450D with 18-55 IS?
There's no difference. You can focus the sky, mountain or village. It's still focused to same distance - infinite.
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Old Jan 19, 2010, 12:18 PM   #5
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i would also try bracketing a few exposures. this will give you a better chance to get the exposure you want. as well as giving you 3 images in which you could also merge in HDR if you so choose.
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Old Jan 19, 2010, 5:37 PM   #6
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It partly depends on what you want to show - that lovely deep blue in the sky or the land. If your primary subject is the sky, use spot (my preference) or center weighted metering mode (NOT matrix) and meter from near (but not at) the lightest part of the sky and remember that your camera will try to meter that point to a mid-grey. That normally works pretty well, but check on the LCD to see if you need to dial in some type of Ev (or auto bracket). If you want both the land and the sky then you'd need either a grad ND filter or definitely auto bracketed series for HDR. The problem with using matrix metering is that the camera will try to even out everything to a mid-grey and normally a pre-dawn scene shouldn't be mid-grey (as well as often being beyond a camera's dynamic range).

If your scene is distant (i.e., you aren't trying to have something close as well as a distant horizon in focus) then aperture doesn't really matter - set it to whatever will be sharpest (f8 or f11 are often good choices, depends on the lens). If you can, use a tripod as your shutter speeds might be too slow to hand-hold. If your shutter speeds are really slow, think about using mirror lock-up also, especially if your tripod isn't that sturdy.

P.S. Manually focusing to infinity works very well, assuming that your scene is beyond the distance where the lens goes to infinity.

Last edited by mtngal; Jan 19, 2010 at 5:40 PM.
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Old Jan 20, 2010, 5:21 AM   #7
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First of all I have to say that I have asked the same kind of questions in the thread Night-Panorama shot of Fredrikstad and Walter_S gave me some interesting informations and tips - so check it out if you want to learn something, especially about night-panoramas in HDR

Quote:
Originally Posted by kazuya View Post
assuming you want to have the whole scene in focus you should try setting the camera to aperture priority mode then select f16 and focus about 1/3 of the way into the scene and use a tripod and remote release or self timer, because your shutter speed will be very low at those setting at that time of day
I used a tripod of course, but didn't shoot in aperture priority - I selected a exposure time, not a f-stop

@Oskari: Thank you for the information - I didn't know what that really means, now I know

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Originally Posted by Hards80 View Post
i would also try bracketing a few exposures. this will give you a better chance to get the exposure you want. as well as giving you 3 images in which you could also merge in HDR if you so choose.
Thank's Dustin - that's what I've done, I was inspired by Walter's night-panos The main problem I had was that they where all more or less out of focus.... but I'll try MF next time!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtngal View Post
It partly depends on what you want to show - that lovely deep blue in the sky or the land. If your primary subject is the sky, use spot (my preference) or center weighted metering mode (NOT matrix) and meter from near (but not at) the lightest part of the sky and remember that your camera will try to meter that point to a mid-grey. That normally works pretty well, but check on the LCD to see if you need to dial in some type of Ev (or auto bracket). If you want both the land and the sky then you'd need either a grad ND filter or definitely auto bracketed series for HDR. The problem with using matrix metering is that the camera will try to even out everything to a mid-grey and normally a pre-dawn scene shouldn't be mid-grey (as well as often being beyond a camera's dynamic range).

If your scene is distant (i.e., you aren't trying to have something close as well as a distant horizon in focus) then aperture doesn't really matter - set it to whatever will be sharpest (f8 or f11 are often good choices, depends on the lens). If you can, use a tripod as your shutter speeds might be too slow to hand-hold. If your shutter speeds are really slow, think about using mirror lock-up also, especially if your tripod isn't that sturdy.

P.S. Manually focusing to infinity works very well, assuming that your scene is beyond the distance where the lens goes to infinity.
Thank you mtngal for this interesting explanation! My object is really far away (many kilometers), I'm looking from up high down to a village and along a valley.

The metering mode is something I forgot to ask for - I used the matrix mode all the time, but I'll change that next time
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