Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Night photography

click photo to enlarge
When I used a film camera the photographic day was shorter than it is now. By that I mean the film that was widely available wasn't at its best when light levels started to drop away. If you used a tripod with a static subject you'd got a chance of a reasonable shot, but hand-held it was a different matter. So, I rarely shot in the early morning or in the evening after sunset. And, of course, those are the times when you can make some great photographs.

That slowly changed with the arrival of digital. As sensors improved we started to use ISO numbers that were unheard of with film. From a film-days maximum of ISO 400 or so we soon progressed to the point where 800 and 1600 were regularly used to good effect. The arrival of in-body and lens stabilisation allowed us to hand hold these numbers quite comfortably at speeds down to 1/15 or 1/8 second despite the fact that often the lenses were not as bright as the 50mm 1.8 or 1.4 that we routinely used with film. Then technology moved on and ISO 3200 and 6400 became viable. Today we see cameras offering 12800 and even 25600.

Consequently, when I'm in London I think nothing of hand holding my camera for night-time shots. Sometimes, if I'm away from street lights and strongly illuminated buildings, I'll brace the camera against a wall or on some railings. I never - thankfully - need to consider carrying a tripod because the results I get hand-held are quite acceptable. We passed Canada Water Library the other day. I first photographed this striking Piers Gough/CZWG designed building at the turn of the year during daylight hours. The night offered a different take on the structure and the opportunity to use highlights on the adjacent water of the old dock.

photographs and text © Tony Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.4mm (28mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f1.8
Shutter Speed: 1/30 sec
ISO: 640
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On