Although I missed his presentation on night photography I had signed up Lance Keimig’s night photography workshop on June 9, 2012. Last year I bought his book and even asked Dennis to take it to the NECCC conference and ask Lance to sign it for me. Since then I read the book, made mental notes on night photography, but have not tried actually doing it until the night of the workshop. The book, Night Photography- Finding Your Way In The Dark, is very informative, easy to follow, and highly recommended.
The variables are a little different from daytime photography, so is the vision and sensibility. Working under the dark requires close familiarity with the equipment and the quality of the camera does matter, especially the high ISO and long exposure noise handling.
The meeting place was under the new route 195 bridge in Providence and when we arrived with Dennis there were a few friends already there. I had not been to that part of Providence and was surprised by the number of night clubs and associated noise. Luckily we did not need to get too close to the clubs and the noise, the audible variety, was not a problem. Lance quickly explained how the night was going to work and asked us to review the camera settings and make them conform to the information he had provided via e-mail. Everyone went to their chosen location, Dennis and I walked down the street a little to the other side of the bridge where there was a clear area. We set up the tripods and went to work.
The first few shots were almost “must take” shots of the power plant and its reflection on the water. Luckily, the hurricane barriers were down to accommodate for the Water Fire event on the river. That kept the water level steady with no visible current. It was quite straight forward, aim, frame, focus, set exposure, shoot. Using the live view setting for framing and focus was almost a must and it made the process that much simpler. Our cameras, Canon 5D Mark II, were particularly good with long exposure noise reduction and the resulting images show very little noise or noise reduction artifacts. I remained around the same area, Dennis went down further for a while. Later on, we decided to drive to South Water Street which gave a clearer view of the city skyline and a different angle to the power plant. I used the large steel sculpture which I call the steel doughnut as a framing device as well as the subject of the last few photographs. The opening photograph is a stitched panorama of five separate shots at 40mm focal length. Although I could have taken the same view in a single shot, the panorama gives me a larger file for printing bigger sizes. The image on the right is a comparable view shot at 24mm focal length. Its dimensions after the adjustments and perspective correction are 5,541 x 3,424 pixels, 18,972,384 or about 19 megapixels. The opening stitched image dimensions for comparison are 10,192 x 6,298, 64,189,216 or about 64 megapixels. The difference is about 3.4 times the size. The single shot can be comfortably printed at 300 ppi to yield an 18.5″ x 11.5″ print, where the stitched image at the same ppl will yield a 34″ x 21″ print.
The next day we all met at the Marriott Courtyard meeting room for a review of the day’s work. Everyone submitted four photographs and Lance went through every single image providing helpful comments and suggestions. Although the session was scheduled between 1-4 PM, it was after 5 PM when we left, Lance was generous with his time. I enjoyed the night shooting and participating in the review and post-processing session.
Thanks, Lance, see you for the next part some time.