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IN THE FIELD: Not As Late As You May Think It Is

After I finished some yard work on Saturday, I got out the camera to capture some of the autumn color that remains in our woods.

The sun was dipping below the horizon, but there was still enough ambient light to get some shots without using the built-in flash or a speedlight. And I knew this was a situation which would call for longer exposure times and the use of a tripod.

One of the advantages of long exposures is colors can become more saturated than what you may find with shorter exposure times. I was also fortunate there wasn’t even a wisp of a breeze, so everything in the photos was sharp.

To start this exercise, I bumped the ISO to 400, set the aperture at f11 for good depth of field, and adjusted the shutter speed to 2.5 seconds for a proper exposure. I could have used a faster shutter speed, but that would have dictated the use of a wider aperture. Which in turn leads to less depth of field. I also used an electronic cable release to further minimize camera movement.

Some folks might say it was too dark to get a decent photo. I say phooey. The light sensitivity built into cameras these days is remarkable to say the least. My camera, which is at least four years old, had no problem making a proper exposure or auto-focusing. The newer models are even more capable.

Low light photography can be a challenge for your equipment or for yourself, but the rewards are worth it. Least in my humble opinion.

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  1. November 12, 2012 at 8:52 am

    The lighting master strikes again! Thanks for the great tip, I’m going to have to try that and yes! Low light photography can be a bear (as I recently found out – ugh) I almost expect some creature to come bounding out of the middle of this capture :)

    • November 13, 2012 at 8:45 am

      Lighting master…you’re funny! Things that go bump in the night….it does get kinda spooky around here at times. Especially when it is totally silent! I found it pretty amazing how the camera picked up WAY more color than what was visible with the naked eye. It was pretty dark out!

  2. November 12, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Fascinating me all these beautiful colours… Thank you dear David, I loved it. Love, nia

    • November 13, 2012 at 8:47 am

      The camera saw more color than I could and actually made the colors more vibrant! Sadly, most of the leaves are all on the forest floor now. Next year!

  3. November 12, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Wonderful shot, David!
    The colors are lovely! I agree, cameras these days are a lot better than they used to be, so there is no need to be afraid to push the limits a little further. Like you said, the outcome can be very rewarding.

    • November 13, 2012 at 8:50 am

      Thanks Gracie, it is pretty amazing how well cameras can “see” in such dark conditions. I took this shot at 5:15pm and the sun had been below the horizon for 20 minutes by then!

  4. November 12, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    I agree with you and with Samantha Chrysanthou and Darwin Wiggett who say “there is no such thing as bad lighting.” It really does give more saturation to the colour unless it is really drab out.If you haven’t seen their work, google them or go to their site, “oopoomoo” (really i am not kidding), am sure you’ll like their work..

  5. November 13, 2012 at 8:56 am

    WOW Jane!!! Thanks for turning me on to these folks. Their website is now bookmarked. I did some quick snooping around and love what I have read and seen so far. I know I will enjoy spending time on their website…for a long time to come!

  6. November 13, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Great photo, kinda dark but that’s what brings out some of the deep colours. Well done
    Gerry

    • November 15, 2012 at 8:59 am

      Thanks for the kudos Gerry! Great to hear from you! Before I posted this, I adjusted the brightness (added a 1/2 stop exposure) to make it lighter, but then it looked like daytime and the colors faded. So I went with the original version…it represented the lack of light better and the colors were richer.

  7. November 13, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    A wonderful shot with amazing subtlety. I love this!

    • November 15, 2012 at 9:00 am

      Thanks Jo, I have to admit I was amazed at the color rendition and intensity considering the lack of light!

  8. November 14, 2012 at 6:04 am

    Sometimes low light works for me – other times not so well. This is lovely; inviting and mysterious at the same time :-)

    • November 15, 2012 at 9:04 am

      Somewhere out of sight are deer, foxes, lots of squirrels and who know what else. We here some odd sounds at night. What I found interesting was the colors were somewhat lackluster in the last few minutes of light, but the camera picked up the intensity that was there all along!

  9. November 14, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Your low light photo turned out beautiful.

    • November 15, 2012 at 9:07 am

      Thanks Karen, there aren’t many leaves left on the trees except for the younger beech trees…they have been a wonderful golden yellow this year, but are fading to tan and brown.
      I am really surprised how the camera picked up so much color not visible to the naked eye…It was pretty dark out!

  10. November 15, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Beautiful saturated color! I’m amazed at how sharp the image is. The wind must have been dead calm. Great job!

    • November 17, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      I must have gotten this shot just in time. The following day the colors were faded and brown…at least to the human eye anyway. There was no breeze of any sort which really helped…a few hours earlier was a different story. Raking leaves was an exercise in wind direction LOL.

  11. November 19, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Great photo and great lesson… thank you… it is such posts that help us beginners..

    • November 19, 2012 at 6:12 am

      Thanks BD for the kind words, but I would not consider you a beginner by any means!

  12. November 20, 2012 at 4:34 am

    wow! Your pictures make me feel bad as I haven’t got time to capture any of the beautiful autumn colours this year :) shame on me :) But there is still time, I might go for little stroll some time soon :) we just moved flat and it’s taking lots of time to sort it out :) But we are nearly there :) once I am setlled, I’ll start blogging again, sadly, no internet at home yet :(

    • November 20, 2012 at 9:48 am

      I know what you mean about not having time for blogging and photography. We recently moved Sharon’s mum to assisted living, our house is for sale now so we have been busy getting it ready, I had to take on a part time job with goofy hours, life in general, etc…
      It has been so good to hear from you again! I was getting concerned…honestly! What has happened to Kristina? She is such a nice gal. Sharon and I would love to meet you and Charlie some time…maybe our paths will cross someday. Hope things are going well in your new place! Moving is tiresome but exciting at the same time…a new adventure!

      • November 20, 2012 at 10:22 am

        Oh we love our new place, I am sitting at work and missing my home already haha, all that excitement when you really feel like home :) Haven’t go the internet connection at home so trying to catch up with my personal stuff at work whenever I get a minute :)
        If you two are in London some time sure we can go for a cup of cream tea :D It would be lovely :) I recently met a fellow blogger who is Lithuanian as well and it was really nice to meet her in person :)
        I hope you have more free time soon for things you love doing :)
        I love the expression ‘goofy’ hours, will have to use it :) Learning something new every day! :)

  13. November 20, 2012 at 5:29 am

    Thank you so much for this master-class. I went on a course to learn about depth of field and ISOs etc but can’t remember much and tend to rely on the auto setting. My new camera is a clever beast and does help me a lot! :)

    • November 20, 2012 at 9:53 am

      Sure thing MBF, if you ever need any help with anything , just drop me a line and I’ll be glad to assist! I keep things simple and easy to understand…it doesn’t need to be complicated or beyond reach…besides it’s more fun and will become second nature when easily understood! The auto settings on cameras these days can do some remarkable things…but if you want more control, manual mode is something to look into.

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