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Old Nov 28, 2006, 9:26 PM   #1
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I just bought a new D80 along with an18-200 VR lens within the past week. I've also purchased some Manfrotto/Bogen 3001 Pro legs with a 486RC2 ball head. I thought a Monopod would help as well, so I have a Manfrotto 676B as well I've been reading my manual like crazy, since this is my first DSLR, but I'm still having an issue.

The reason I'm here is that I have to go to Christmas light display within the next week. I'm trying to practice my technique of taking lighted pictures in a dark atmosphere, however I'm far from anything that I would show anyone. I was just wondering if there was any tips, trips, optimal settings, or anything you feel could help me out. I'm sure I'll figure it out a some point, but as for now I need to figure it out soon. I'm on a time schedule. I am a newbie, but not totally clueless. Please let me know if you think there is something that would help me out in my situation. Thank you.
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Old Nov 29, 2006, 12:36 AM   #2
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Are you shooting just lighting displays or are there going to be people on the scene? The problem is when people are involved. With pure low-lighted scene without moving subjects, a slower shutter speed may be the way to go. Depending on the available light, .5 to 1.0 second is a good starting point.

But if moving subjects, like people, are involved things can be complicated, since you cannot use long exposure. Also, it depends on how far they are from the camera. If they are close, you can use the built-in flash.

If you want to capture dark lighted background with people on the foreground, you can try using rear-sync flash mode. This is when the flash kicks in at the end of the exposure. This gives the camera time to expose the dark background before lighting the front subjects with the flash.

If you don't have a diffuser or an external flash you can bounce, you may need to power down your flash to avoid harsh lighting for close subjects.

'Hope this helps.

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Old Nov 29, 2006, 4:55 AM   #3
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Yes, it does help. I just now need to learn how to do all those things that you made sound so easy. I was thinking along those lines, about having people in some of the pictures. A majority of the pictures will be consist mostly of static light displays. It will be a learning experience. I've been taking pictures of the house next door as practice since they already have their lights up. I've just been using the auto settings, as well as the default settings for the night landscape. Still in the learning stages about changing anything else. I do appreciate your help though. Thank you.
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Old Nov 30, 2006, 5:01 PM   #4
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Well, I've been taking a few shots here and there learning what changing these options do. I know there is going to be a lot of fine tuning, but at least I'm able to make the necessary changes. Something I couldn't do a few days ago. I have tried to take a few pictures with a person in front of a light display, using the Rear Sync Flash mode. My camera keeps flashing at the beginning, then again at the end, something that ruins the lights in the background. If I take a shot of just the lights, using a set shutter speed and Aperature it comes out the way I want. I can also get the camera to take a picture of a person in front of the lights, but I can't get a visible person in the pic with the lights the way I want them in the background.
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Old Nov 30, 2006, 7:42 PM   #5
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The flash in the beginning is the preflash that the camera uses to measure the amount of flash to use at the end. I kinda have the feeling you'll run into this type of problem. Basically that's the reason "pros" have those umbrellas with lights and light meters... to make sure the lighting is the same for the background and foreground.

There are several possible ways I can think of to kinda make things work. First is the photoshop way of shooting two different pictures, one exposing for the background, and the other exposing for the foreground, and blending them in photoshop. You will need your tripod here, and results will depend on your photoshop skills. This is what I would do for better results.

The second is to basically decide which is more important, the background or the foreground, and take what the camera gives you. You can then make adjustments later on. This is what I usually do. I just make sure the foreground subject is exposed correctly, leaving the background underexposed. I then lighten up the background in photoshop. Since you are shooting christmas lights, you may not need to lighten the background since christmas lights looks better when it's just the lights.

'Hope this helps.

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Old Dec 4, 2006, 9:10 PM   #6
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I've been experimenting with a lot of different techniques, none of which seem to be getting the desired results. I think I need a lot more practice than the week and a half or so that I've owned the camera, that is for sure. I've got to the point to where I know how to navigate the menus, and that is enough for me right now. I'll just have to figure out all the other stuff later. I can see a lot of reading coming up. . .
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Old Dec 4, 2006, 9:31 PM   #7
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Night time and low light photography is very challenging. I don't do it often, but when I do I run into various problems. For general DSLR tips, check out the links below:

http://www.canon.co.jp/Imaging/enjoydslr/index.html
http://www.morguefile.com/archive/classroom.php


Good Luck!
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