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Old March 1st, 2011, 09:54 PM
RangerTim's Avatar
RangerTim RangerTim is offline
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Longer exposure shots

Hi, I have just recently gotten a tripod and started doing some night shots and low light shots involving blurred water.

I was wondering if anyone could explain the effect, if any, long exposure has on color and detail in low light situations? Besides photos becoming obviously overexposed, is there a point when longer exposures degrade the sharpness or detail of an image? Does this question make any sense I guess I'm trying to learn what effect longer exposures have on the different aspects of an image, besides obviously light and dark. --Tim
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Old March 2nd, 2011, 12:24 AM
jcoons jcoons is offline
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Re: Longer exposure shots

I would say with my own experience with night photography, provided that the object is stationary or you're tracking it (EG astrophotography and using a barn door mount) and your camera/tripod isn't moving (EG wind) there should be no issues with the sharpness of the image provided you correctly set focus.

Something to consider with longer exposures with a digital camera is noise and hot pixels. I've found with my 40D that noise doesn't become an issue until an exposure is ~30 minutes but hot pixels start showing up when I'm shooting an exposure over 4 minutes. To combat this you can shoot a black frame or stack shorter exposures. Apparently ACR does a decent job at removing hot pixels but I haven't used it for that.

I haven't found any issues with colour being negatively affected with a long exposure but the vast majority of my experience with night photography is either astrophotography or a few minutes after sunset. Maybe some other people can provide a bit more help with this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RangerTim View Post
Hi, I have just recently gotten a tripod and started doing some night shots and low light shots involving blurred water.

I was wondering if anyone could explain the effect, if any, long exposure has on color and detail in low light situations? Besides photos becoming obviously overexposed, is there a point when longer exposures degrade the sharpness or detail of an image? Does this question make any sense I guess I'm trying to learn what effect longer exposures have on the different aspects of an image, besides obviously light and dark. --Tim
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Old March 2nd, 2011, 08:16 AM
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Re: Longer exposure shots

I agree with jcoons in the respect about noise, I do alot of beach photography and long exposure shots, I notice that especially with a BLUE sky the noise will increase with long exposures, easily fixed if you have the right software though. I also shoot with a Canon 40D and have had no problems with "hot pixels" as previously stated though.
Make sure that you meter correctly if shoot 30 seconds or less and I like to use an f stop in the mid range for best Depth of Field and sharpness throughout the image, if shooting in bulb mode and doing LONG exposures you just have to try a few test shots to get it right,, good luck
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Old March 2nd, 2011, 08:39 AM
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Re: Longer exposure shots

Quote:
Originally Posted by RangerTim View Post
... Besides photos becoming obviously overexposed, is there a point when longer exposures degrade the sharpness or detail of an image? ... --Tim
Hi Tim,
just wanted to comment on that concept. The photo won't be over exposed if you've metered properly. The point of the longer exposure is to get a photo that is exposed properly. Not sure what mode you are shooting in - but when I do night shots, I often use Aperture Priority mode and matrix-metering (as opposed to spot or center-weighted). I generally use an f/stop in the mid range as Jim points out. That way the camera selects the shutter speed for the exposure. I can then make adjustments if I don't like the result on my lcd screen. If I'm not getting what I want, then I'll often switch to Manual mode and play a bit with the settings, using the settings from Aperture Priority mode as a starting point.

For example, if I like the depth of field but find it too dark or too light, then I'll keep the f/stop and adjust the shutter speed up or down (from what Aperture Priority selected) depending on what I'm looking for.
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Old March 2nd, 2011, 09:41 PM
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Re: Longer exposure shots

Thanks for the great comments. Gives me a few things to work with and helps my understanding alot. --Tim
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Old March 5th, 2011, 03:26 PM
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Re: Longer exposure shots

If you are finding color shifts, it is likely that white balance is the culprit. The color of the available light will tint the objects in your image. If you know the source of light you can make white balance changes to correct.

If not, you can do a custom white balance. Take a white piece of paper and use it to shoot and set the custom white balance. Your manual will tell you how.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 11:33 AM
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RangerTim RangerTim is offline
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Re: Longer exposure shots

Thanks for that comment on white balance!
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Old March 10th, 2011, 12:24 AM
CWSkopec CWSkopec is offline
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Re: Longer exposure shots

As it has already been noted, color shifts shouldn't occur just from a long exposusre, but depending of how long the exposure, you may find colors you didn't see. Example:

http://photos.chrisskopec.com/Natura...638_QxpTL-A-LB

That's a 7 minute exposure, and after seeing you Sunset Cliffs image you may very well know right where it was taken, shot about 2 hours after sunset. All I could see as I waited for the shot to finish was a dark sky, but over the course of the exposure, enough light reflected off the clouds to be picked up by the sensor. I wouldn't call it a color shift, but it is certainly color I couldn't see while i was there.

Your T1i should have a long exposure noise reduction mode on it (my XTi does) and it's kind of a pain as it takes a second dark frame after your first shot and inspects the resulting noise, effectively doubling the exposure time, but once it's done, it automatically eliminates any hot pixels that pop up. I try to remember to use it on any exposures over a minute.
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Old March 10th, 2011, 12:40 AM
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RangerTim RangerTim is offline
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Recent Photo: Haunted
Re: Longer exposure shots

Chris, thanks for the link to that photo and your website. Inspiring images. Also appreciate the tip to get rid of the hot pixels. I have noticed a few and was not sure what to do about it. --Tim
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