Tagged: harbour

21st July 2016 – A Walk Around Town

Change of venue to a walk around the docks in pleasant company, always interesting thing to photograph going on as it is now a social centre for the city. It being evening and ending after dark rather suggested that we take a look at night photography, both with and without a tripod.


On the face of it, night photography is defined by two of the absolute essentials of photography. Firstly contrast, you have to go and find it. It will either be very low, which can make things muddy and ill defined or very high, which can call into question shadow and or highlight detail, losing it mainly. Then there is the whole light thing, rather the relative lack of it and the effect that has on the exposure triangle,  camera shake and sensor noise.


Situation is also key. This post is going to look at the urban setting as that is where we were, which sets a very different  array of questions than say, photographing the milky way in the Brecon Beacons.  Urban settings have more immediate and multiple hazards, multiple opportunities too. That is not to say that you should go prancing around the countryside with anything but due care, it is a far more dangerous place than townies think.


Whereas there is a joy in wondering around looking for photo-opportunities you are far more likely to find them if you know what you are looking for (planned serendipity). Let’s start with the golden hour. The Golden Hour isn’t exactly an hour, it is short hand for, in photographic terms, a quality of light that is a function of the relationship between the angle of the sun to the earth. During that time the colour temperature of the light is around 3500 Kelvin because of the greater depth of the atmosphere it has to travel through.


Now you say, being on the ball, that makes the light bluer than the standard daylight of around 5500 Kelvin and you would be right. That soft quality of light that makes for good portraits as well as land, urban and seascapes (we will ignore sun rise for the purposes of this piece but the golden hour is that which starts around dawn) is a product of the low angle of the sun to the horizon which scatters the blue wavelengths relative to the red/yellow wavelengths which, psychologically, look warmer to us.  Think instant no cost tanning. That low angle means long shadows too that are also softer than you will experience later in the day.


The time it is available is limited so there is a time pressure (though no excuse for bad technique, of course).  It’s all in the preparation (a point worth repeating). Cloud cover will need to be monitored and factored in too. Knowing when today’s golden hours are, or tomorrows etc, depends upon your planning window, is fairly easy to calculate.  I feel almost obliged to mention The Photographers Ephemeris at this point. It also worth persisting throughout the hour because of the speed the light changes is so rapid. ISO’s are likely to be higher and/or apertures wider and the White Balance, which will try to correct to daylight if left on auto, should be set to cloudy to preserve the warmth in the light.


Not that the setting of the sun should stop you, the urban landscape presents a myriad of possibilities, some of these we have spent some time on club outings photographing. The first thing to remember is a piece of advice from Scott Kelby and that is the last thing you do is put the camera on the tripod. Make up your mind what you are photographing, “Working the scene” to determine the most productive angles. Then fix the static element around that rather than restricting yourself the other way round. Handheld is also an option, depending on vibration reduction/how steady your hand/availability of something solid to brace yourself against or set the camera. Another tip I have found very useful is, when holding everything steady  as you can, is to shoot a sequence using the motor drive that is built into virtually every camera these days. Five will get you one steady shot more often than not, though there are, of course, limits to what you can achieve. Wide angle are a lot easier to get results with this way than telephoto lenses which, with exceptions, need a tripod.


The lights in the urban environment are both static and mobile. The very wide and the very narrow  are both good for picking image subjects. Cityscape panoramas provide, usually, both static and mobile elements. Shop windows, street lights vehicle light trails. Getting high up, windows, multi storey car parks with a view, bridges and alike offer  vantage points.  Shop windows make for a great free soft box for street portraits. Neon light always sticks out and often uses reds and yellows which are particularly striking and blues can be arresting set on a dark background. Reflections in windows or water are worth paying attention too. The light sources in the scene really are the first thing you should weigh up These are, light trails aside, entirely static. Waiting for something or someone to come along and add interest to it is really quite logical.


Exposure is always going to be tricky at night as we discussed above, because of the high dynamic range that you will be dealing with. This is one situation where it really does make more sense to shoot in RAW than in JPEG (or, if you want your cake and eat it, both) unless your camera is using a version of HDR with a high ISO and a black frame to reduce the noise, which will be a built in function and therefore not one where you have the data format option, necessarily. Noise reduction in camera will slow down the write to card times by approximately the same length of time as the exposure so if you are going longer than a second or so and/or shooting sequences with long exposures it probably makes sense to turn it off and do your noise reduction in post.


Flash has it’s uses, but not if you are trying to be discrete. Nonetheless, meter for the highlights, shoot camera RAW, accept that post production is almost inevitable in these things. Dark images are not necessarily a bad thing, you are shooting at night after all, but the mood after dark is always different.  The mood of some people is also rather different so make sure you play it safe. The tripod is a good idea, of course, especially if you are looking at longer exposures, when it becomes an essential, either because of the generally low light levels or because you want to include some blur in your subjects – also useful if you are putting in some zoom blur too – or you are looking to put some light trails in, as discussed above. And we haven’t even broached the subject of light painting.


All in all a great way to extend your photographic day and pretty much what e shall be doing at WSM this Thursday, with the added incentive of it being bike night. See you there.

7th August – Riverside Adventures

Greetings one and all, it has come to the time that I, Megan, shall take over the sacred duty known as the blogging! Hello! If you would like anything added to the next blog post, then feel free to reach me on any of the mediums listed below:

  • Email: magicalzombiecat@gmail.comMe (to avoid confusion)
  • Send a message on Facebook
  • Text me, provided you have my number (just ask me for it if you would like it)
  • Or of course, find me at a club meeting. If you are unsure as to which one I am, here is a little reminder! Although, I am terrible with names sometimes so you may need to remind me of your name!


Now that is out-of-the-way, let’s get on with what you’re really here for!                                                                           

This week’s antics have brought us to the MShed, a place where you can learn of Bristol’s history, or look at the pretty boats, trains and ships, or both, which ever takes your fancy. We met up at  19:30, though others were there from an earlier time. Some chose to photograph the local scenery, the boats and ships, the train carriages, the cranes and bollards on the harbourside, others chose to photograph the brightly coloured locals for their style, and a few chose to take to the skies, photographing the peculiar shaped balloons, such as the daisy (an american visitor), the flagon, and the Smurf, as they headed towards Bath, being Bristol Balloon Fiesta Weekend. The more adventurous brave souls marched on deeper into town, and were never to be seen again, well, that night anyway.

7.8.2014 group

Hard at work, taking photos

 Next week(14th August), instead of having another group outing, we shall be running 6 mini groups. However, Myk has decided to cancel his group due to lack of interest, but John has stepped in to run a group in his place.  If you would like to join a group, please email Ruth on the clubs email addressreflexcc@gmail.com ) to sign up to a group, you will have to be quick as some are limited!

  1. Group 1 Shall be run by Ruth Doyle – Bitton Railway, meet by the barrier to the car park for 19:30.  https://goo.gl/maps/LuQ1s
  2. Group 2 shall be run by Daniel Ellis – Retracing the route of Bristol medieval city wall, Meet at the Slug and Lettuce on St. Nicholas’ Street for 19:30.  https://goo.gl/maps/ZUXme
  3. Group 3 shall be run by Steve Hallam – Meet at the Bag o’ Nails pub at the bottom of Jacobs Wells Road for 19:30. https://goo.gl/maps/fR0Yi
  4. Group 4 shall be run by Mark Stone – Wells, Meet outside the cathedral for 1930.  https://goo.gl/maps/LcHiz
  5. Group 5 shall be run by Hanneke ter Veen – Playing with water at her home, however this one is limited and 1 space remains for this group.
  6. Group 6 shall be run by John Pike – Meet outside Temple Meads Station for 19:30.

The pictures that you all take in these groups will then be presented at a later date!


Until next time, peace out


Images courtesy of Ian Gearing