RCPS Press Report 20th August 2015

Ripon City Photographic Society

One of our upcoming competitions is called ‘Dusk Till Dawn’ (Closing date 26th October) and the rules state that ‘Images have to be taken during the hours after sunset and before sunrise. Images must be taken outdoors and not show the setting or rising sun, although the afterglow of sunset or pre-dawn lightening of the sky are acceptable, as is artificial light of any sort, (flash, street lights etc) as long as it is obvious that the image was taken during the relevant hours. Images may be monochrome or colour.’

This is a type of outdoor photography that brings with it a particular set of challenges far removed from the everyday, bright light and ‘golden hour’ scenarios much loved by photographers.

One of the first challenges is how to focus on a subject when there is little or no light to assist. Almost certainly, relying on auto-focus will just send the focus beam on a hunting mission that is entirely random and unlikely to be successful, therefore changing to manual focus is the first essential act on the road to good nighttime photography. If you have the option, try focusing through the viewfinder and also using the rear LCD screen to decide which you prefer. You could use a torch, head or hand held, to illuminate your subject depending on how distant from the camera it is and to allow you to focus on it with this light assisting.

On camera you are best to shoot in RAW rather than JPEG whenever possible as this gives more latitude for changes in the post-camera process. Use aperture priority (A or Av) and decrease the f-stop to the lowest you can. Every one f-stop reduction doubles the shutter speed. Depending on your camera/lens you may get down to f-3.5, f-stop 2.8 or less. Remember though, every reduction in f-stop decreases the depth of field available to you in your image so you need to be confident that you have your focus point where you want it. Use the fastest lens you have, i.e. one that will give you the lowest f-stop number. A 100-400mm telephoto zoom with an f-stop of 5.6 will not give you the required results compared with another, perhaps prime lens, that allows you to dial in an f-stop of 2.8, say. Staying with the lens, if you have VR (Vibration Reduction on Nikon) or IS (Image Stabilisation on Canon), use it, as it will enable you to take pictures at slower speeds without getting a blurred effect that would probably result if VR or IS is not engaged. Increase the ISO, how far is a matter of trial and error but doubling ISO doubles your shutter speed. The higher the ISO the more noise, (coloured speckles or a grainy effect), will become visible on your image but that is sometimes the trade off for this type of photography. Beware that if you use ISO on the auto setting, the camera may increase it to a higher level than need be, which is why manual control is better. If necessary, and it almost certainly will be, use a monopod or a tripod to help to reduce or even eliminate camera shake.

Although the use of flash is permissible it does have some drawbacks, chiefly that it flattens images, especially more so with on camera built in flash and in addition it does tend to only illuminate the subject from the direction of the position of the flash, or positions if more than one source of flash is used. You could try painting with light though – use a torch to paint light onto your subject whilst taking the picture.

Nighttime photography can be great fun and you only get better with practice so go out and try it and then compare your results with others when competition time comes around.

We want to make our Annual Exhibition on Saturday, 5th September at Allhallowgate Church Hall, the best yet. The event runs from 0930 to 1600 with The Right Worshipful, the Mayor of Ripon, Cllr Pauline McHardy, officially opening the event at 10am, presenting awards and certificates to members whose images achieved success at the YPU Exhibition and finally touring the exhibition with her Consort before enjoying the hospitality of our café.

If you can help in any way, for whatever length of time, please contact Derek or Carol – details in the Members’ Book or on your e-mails.

For more information please go to www.riponcityphotographicsociety.co.uk