Night is Calling (Photo Quest August)

Depending on where in San Diego you are, your days are either warm, hot, or torrid right now – but the nights are nice when temperatures drop, the skies are mostly clear, the coyotes are singing, the stars are out, and the Milky Way is beautifully visible in all of its glory in summer.

The August theme for our photo quest is Night is Calling – so let’s get out into the night!

The Rules (as usual)

  • Get out and make a new photo for the quest
  • No digging in your archives – photo must be made in August 2018!
  • Deadline is August 31st, 2018.
  • Members only! You’ll receive an email with the Dropbox File Request.
  • One submission per member
  • Selected “editor’s picks” will be showcased at the September meeting

Night Photography Tips & Tricks

Use the three “twilight” periods:

  • civil twilight is our “blue hour” – it last for about 30 minutes, after sunset. It’s getting darker but there’s still plenty of light in the sky, especially to the west of course. Only the brightest stars are beginning to appear. There’s a beautiful and very even light on the landscape.
  • nautical twilight lasts for about 30 minutes after civil twilight. There’s still some light in the sky, a beautiful period to make night photos, plenty of stars are visible already in the dark sky, features in the landscape are still visible to the camera without light painting.
  • astronomical twilight lasts for another 30 minutes, after nautical twilight. It’s pretty dark now and essentially night for us. Foreground features in the landscape will mostly disappear, unless the moon is up or you manually light paint them.

Camera technique:

  • Your shutter will be open for a bit – a sturdy tripod with a good head is a must!
  • A faster lens allows you to capture more light, and keep the ISO lower for less noise
  • To avoid blur from pressing the shutter button, use a remote (cable, infrared, etc.) or timer release
  • To avoid blur from the mirror-slap, use manual mirror pre-release, exposure delay mode, or live view
  • Do not underestimate how bright the moon is! Keep it out of your frame, it will just be a featureless white blob in the sky. You can use the moonlight though: with a long enough exposure time, a landscape under moonlight can appear almost as bright as day.
  • For cityscapes, use plenty of bracketing and try HDR (high dynamic range), to capture bright highlights and shadows equally well (note that our August meeting will have a session about HDR software, and HDR software raffle prizes!)
  • Reaching for the stars? Maybe you want them to appear as dots and not as streaks!
    Use this formula for the maximum exposure time: 400 / (focal length) x (crop-factor)
    Example 1: Canon 7D (1.6x crop), 10mm lens: 400 / 10mm x 1.6 = 25 seconds
    Example 2: Nikon D750 (1x crop), 24mm lens: 400 / 24mm = 16 seconds
    (any exposure time that is longer would result in the stars appearing as streaks)
  • BE SAFE! Don’t go alone into the dark. Bring a buddy, a headlamp and spare batteries!

Feel free to ask any questions in our Facebook group: San Diego Photo Club. And now: have fun, and good (star) light!

Shipwreck Tufa under Stars, South Tufa, Mono Lake, California, September 2016
Shipwreck Tufa under stars, South Tufa, Mono Lake, California, September 2016.
Exposure info: 20 seconds at f/4, 17mm focal length, ISO 6400.


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