A Jim of All Trades

Some Night Photography

with one comment

I don’t have a ton of experience shooting pictures at night. I’ve done some long exposures of traffic, but not a lot else. Over the summer I tried to shoot the supermoon, but my shots turned out horrible… there was no detail and the moon was just a really bright circle. So, I’m going to try to shoot some more night photos and will hopefully improve.

On Monday evening there was a somewhat serious accident right down the road from my house. I think everyone will be okay, but there were some injuries, two really damaged cars, and the road was blocked off for a bit while fire and ambulance personnel did their things. I setup my tripod at the end of my driveway and took a few shots of the fire truck parked closest.

f22, 10 second exposure, iso 200, using the 18-55 pentax kit lens at 47.5mm

I liked the long exposure for this because it catches all of the lights lit up, though I probably could have gotten away with a slightly shorter shutter time. Anything less than a second didn’t have as much pop to the lighting though, with at least a couple being blacked out.

Tuesday night I ventured out into my lawn with the tripod to again try to take a picture of a full moon, this time the rare “blue moon.”

f3.5, 1/1000, iso 200, 135mm MF prime

When shooting in poorly lit environments, my gut reaction is to set the lens wide open and shoot long exposures. I tried a lot of test shots and no matter what, the moon just showed as a big ball of light with no detail. After a number of those I finally decided to shorten the exposure time. At about 1/800 I started getting good images, through about 1/2500 or so. I liked this one the best. This was shot using the old manual focus film-era 135mm prime lens I got from craigslist, it’s the longest lens I have and its widest aperture is 3.5. It would be nice to have a longer zoom so I could have gotten a closer (bigger moon!) shot, and cropping is always an option I guess, but you work with what you have and I was pleased enough with this. Later while I was laying in bed it dawned on me that I never tried to adjust the aperture, I just always shot wide open. This lens is sharper at about f8, so I might have been able to get something with a bit more detail had I figured out the correct exposure time. So next full moon I’ll go out and try again, assuming the sky is clear. At this distance it likely won’t make much of a difference though, really.

Happy shooting!


Written by Jim

August 22, 2013 at 9:00 pm

One Response

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  1. I’m surprised that is a 10-second exposure!… looks really nice and no blurring. The moon looks great, too! Lots of detail.


    August 26, 2013 at 10:51 am


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