I found Silver Reef on the map. It appears to be in the Red Cliff Recreation Area which I am planning to visit. I've also found the Grafton Ghost town near Rockville. The old school there was used in the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It looks like a really good place to do some night photography.
I arrive in St.George on Sunday late in the day. I'll stay there that night. If there is enough light I may visit Sand Hollow State Park. Then I'm heading toward Colorado City and the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. I plan to spend Monday night somewhere on the east side of Zion. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the Park. I'll probably spend some time in the Kolab Canyon area of Zion on Friday. Somehow I want to get in Snow Canyon, and Red Cliffs before I leave on Saturday afternoon.
I'll post a link to my new stuff after I get back.
Since you brought up night photography, I hope it is OK if I sneak into this conversation.
While on my abbreviated trip to Gettysburg, I got up very early and was on the battlefield shooting picture well before sunrise.
My night pictures were VERY dissappointing. In addition to large amounts of noise (as I had cranked up my ISO to about 3200 in order to get my exposures to work on my highest non-bulb setting of 30 seconds) I got quite a few hot pixels. I also got, what I saw as, weird color-casts.
As I had never actually taken night shots, I have zero doubt that some of my problems were of my own making but, I am also beginning to suspect that my camera has started to show signs that my falling off small cliffs, tumbling down rock faces and slipping on ice sheets may have taken their toll (as I have an elbow that now longer seems to function as it should from a fall on a wet stone slab, I can hardly expect otherwise). So, feel free to assign blame to both the carpenter and the tool in answering these questions:
1. Hot pixels - a normal feature of night shooting, a natural result of long exposures with too high an ISO or variable due to camera quality/design?
2. Color cast - there was some ambient light (occassional traffic on a nearby road and a moon coming in and out of fast moving cloud banks) but, very little so I was surprised to have any color at all yet I had a brown color cast in my shots. Do you generally convert all night shots to black and white or do they, due to the normal conditions there of, usually come out effectively black and white anyway?
3. High ISO and the "bulb" - should I have kept my ISO low in order to help fight off the noise inherent in long exposures and opted for "bulb" setting? If so, is the bulb simply a self-timed shutter exposure when I need to hit it once to open and once to close the shutter?
Thank you (and all who wish to opine) as I would like to keep working on adding night photography to my list of activities.
First, let's define terms. Night is the time after astronomical twilight when the sun is 18 degrees or more below the horizon. When that happens can vary but two hours after sunset or before sunrise should always be night. Outside of those times, you have some light from the sun. It may be scattering in the upper atmosphere and it may be hard to see, but it is there.
With regard to your questions:
1. Hot pixels. They are feature of every camera and are particularly noticeable with night photography. One of the reasons to shoot in RAW for night photography is that raw conversion programs like Adobe Camera Raw will remove most of the hot pixels in the conversion process. The healing brush tool works great for those that remain.
2. Color Cast. It is almost impossible to get away from light from streetlights and other sources. The brown color cast comes from the ambient light especially that produced by sodium vapor lighting, even though you can hardly see it. Light seems to travel forever. Even the smallest amount of ambient light is likely to be greater than the light generated by the stars so you have to deal with that. In my experience, the best way to deal with the ambient light is to set your white balance to incandescent light. It will turn the brown to blue. If you can set a custom white balance in your camera, choose 3200K. Never set your white balance to Auto because your camera will keep adjusting itself depending on the ambient light, whether the light changes because of a passing car, a cloud over the moon or a big truck passing by a streetlight.
Night time photos don't come out in black and white, they come out in color. Remember that color is reflected light. The problem at night is that there is much much less light than during the day time. If you have a long enough exposure, you will see color. If you are shooting stationary objects like a monument, you can set your ISO to 100 to avoid noise, set your aperture wide open and use a long shutter speed. The light meter in your camera is useless in the dark, so try a 5 minute exposure. Increase or decrease the exposure time until you've found the right exposure time for the conditions.
If you are shooting a scene and want to include the sky, you have to decide if you want star trails or not. Generally star trails are a bad thing unless they are long. Anything less than a 60 minute exposure will just look bad, especially if the trails are not what you are aiming for. So, when you want your stars to be spots and not trails, you have to follow the "Rule of 600" It holds that the shutter speed multiplied by the focal length of the lens should not exceed 600. So, with a 20mm lens, your shutter speed should not exceed 30 seconds. To get a decent photo, you will have to use a high ISO setting.
3. ISO. I think I've answered your questions about this in #2. Your camera will likely allow you to shoot as long as 30 seconds by pressing the shutter button. If you need longer than that, I suggest you get a programmable shutter release cable or a wireless one. You set your camera to bulb and program the shutter release to open the shutter for whatever time you need. Then you don't have time variability.
Since you have an interest in night photography, consider this: You can make long star trails by making lots of exposures and stacking them using stacking software that you can get free or at low cost. Not only can you get some nice star trail photos, you can use video software to create time lapse movies. I made a time lapse movie of the night sky earlier this month. I'll post it to YouTube later and post a link to it. It is 160 images made over about 90 minutes.
Also, go to my website to see some of my night photos. I have a gallery called "After Dark". I also have some in the "New" portfolio. I often include shutter speed in my comments about them. Here's my web address: http://www.goldimagesphoto.com.
Here's a link to the star trail photo I created using the same photos: http://goldimagesphoto.phanfare.com/615 ... =198900919
Thank you very much for the detailed response. It was very helpful.
1. I always shoot in RAW so, it is good to know that those hot pixels are easily addressed in post processing. Having not shot at night prior, seeing those on my screen (and they really stand out on a mostly black image) was new and a bit shocking.
2. I don't use auto WB but also confess that I did not know exactly what the right setting would be as not of the options seemed appropriate (all are defined in terms of a light source and "very little" was not one of those). I can set the temperature so, I will use 3200 next time.
Thank you also for the insights on the star trails. I have a couple of layering programs so, I will have to try that approach.
3. I did buy a programmable shutter release prior to this trip but, the realities of life intruded on my gaining a mastery prior to the trip. I tried to get a feel for it in the hotel the night before the morning I was shooting "night" shots but, I couldn't really make heads of tails of it. Will have to do so as it sounds like it will be a key piece of equipment for this shooting going forward.
I will check out both your website and the video link you provided.
Thank you again!
I thought I would find the battlefield a bit spooky at night. After all, I am a sucker for any of the ghost shows where they go for a historical angle on a famous haunting and I was aware that Gettysburg is supposed to be one of the most haunted place in the world.Utah Baker wrote:Strictly in the "spirit" of the day, maybe your problems had more to do with being on the battle grounds after dark , spooky things happen at the bewitching hour of twilight! HA,Ha, ha!..........HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
Then I got there and there was just no feeling that this was a "spooky" place. I started in an open field and went on through woods and up to an isolted hill. Always alone and in the pitch black of either the moon being obscured by thick clouds or it setting well before sunrise. And the areas I wandered were among the most hotly contested of the battlefield. But, it just felt really peaceful.
The most disturbing thing that morning was my realization that I tend to talk to statues in the absence of actual people being about...
Perhaps that is why the ghosts avoided me. They thought it was way too early in the day to appear to someone who was so obviously a talker!
If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .
None did. A shame as perhaps one of them could have made heads or tails of that programmable release.
I did give into my more talkative nature as I turned Junior Tour Guide that afternoon. Three groups of people assumed that I was a National Parks employee due to my standing about (places like Gettysburg really require patience due to the time required to grab a shot with neither people or cars in the background) and my poor choice of an Orvis jacket (it all comes back to Vermont) whose colors, as it turns out, closely resemble those of the Park Service uniforms.
I provided one synopsis of the entire battle from a spot on Seminary Ridge, a second, more limited, synopsis from the Plum Run valley near Little Round Top (as well as using their camera to get some pictures of the two of them together) and directed a family to the location of the Second Corps' HQ location as they had an ancestor who served there. Of course, all three interactions occurred after the sun had started to set and light was getting better and better. Anyone ask for my help while I was just wandering about during the mid-day sun? Nope. But the minute the light got warm...Bam!
It did give me a new item for my bucket list - I want to pass the Licensed Battlefield Guide for Gettysburg. It has 76 books as the required reading so, this will be a very long term project!
Hope to have a few photos ready for critique soon.