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Old 02-15-09, 03:19 PM   #1
WilliamK1974
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Question for the photographers about nighttime city skyline pics

Hey all,

I finally got a chance to go out and take some nighttime city skyline pics of downtown Chattanooga from across the river in one of the new public parks. I'll try to post them as some of them came out rather nicely. I was using a Nikon N2000 camera with a Sigma 28-75 lens and Kodak Portra VC165 film. I'm looking forward to trying it again with some other equipment I have and some film my brother gave me for Christmas.

The question I have involves weather conditions at the time of taking the pictures. This particular night, we'd had a clear day with a few clouds in the sky. There was just enough to provide some interest and contrast over the course of the day, and it remained so as day turned to night.

Can you still get a good nighttime pic like that with an overcast sky? We've been having more cloudy days than sunny recently.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you,
-Bill
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Old 02-15-09, 03:29 PM   #2
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Old 02-15-09, 03:36 PM   #3
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A tripod and long exposures will let you do just about anything you want at night. A digital camera would make it easier, even if you just test with digital the take the same shot with film.



Looks better as a print, it's washed out on my screen.

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Old 02-15-09, 03:44 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WilliamK1974 View Post
...Can you still get a good nighttime pic like that with an overcast sky?...
The way I was taught to do it is use a long exposure picture to capture the silhouettes and a short exposure picture to capture the city lights details. Then, using some sort of editing software, e.g., photoshop, put the two together.

As pointed out you'll need a tripod and preferably a cable release as well to prevent shake on the long exposure.

edit: I think. The lesson was a very long time ago.
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Old 02-15-09, 04:43 PM   #5
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Oh, forgot to mention that I was using a tripod and long exposures. Seems like the best result was 4 seconds, though 6 and 8 seconds had their own good features.

The question I have is how does an overcast sky affect this type of picture? Like I said, we had just enough clouds to keep the sky from being absolutely cloud free.

I just wonder if a dusk/night shot with a completely cloudy sky will look all that good.

Thank you,
-Bill
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Old 02-15-09, 04:45 PM   #6
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You will only know if you try!
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Old 02-15-09, 04:59 PM   #7
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If you mean sun just sinking below the horizon time, your usually better off with open sky. Dark night, it probably won't matter much. Sun above the horizon, a little cloud cover can cut contrast a good bit. A lot depends on your subject matter, your direction and your intention.
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Old 02-15-09, 05:24 PM   #8
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Some clouds in the sky will usually add some interest. The best tip I can give you is that the best nighttime shots are usually taken at dusk and not in total darkness. After the sun has dipped below the horizon but before total darkness is the best time for "nighttime" shots.

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Old 02-15-09, 06:15 PM   #9
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These were both taken on overcast nights. I used photoshop to adjust color balance and and brightness.

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Old 02-15-09, 06:25 PM   #10
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Seen some good pics on here. One challenge we have is that Chattanooga is in a valley and that the sun sets behind one of the mountains that surrounds the "bowl" of the valley. Of course, there are ways to turn a challenge into a benefit, and I'm more than happy to admit that I have alot to learn.

Guess I won't know until I try. It's fun to practice :-) Thanks for the advice.
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Old 02-15-09, 10:31 PM   #11
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My favorite is with low clouds (if you're lucky enough to get that without haze at building level) to reflect city lights, or thin clouds lit from above by the moon...it textures the sky a little bit.
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