Digital night photography with Fuji S5 Pro
I've been having great fun with digital night photography ever since I bought my Fuji S5 Pro in november 2007. It's easy. And with the rich colors of the Fuji S5 pro, it is also highly satisfying.
Taking night pictures used to be difficult and troublesome. You need a tripod and preferably a dedicated light meter for more accurate exposure readings.
Plus, you need guesswork and experience and still you need to bracket your exposures in the hope that at least one turns out right. You need luck.
All that has changed. Advances in digital camera technology has made digital night photography accessible to practically everyone with a camera. Including novices like me.
Yes, I am a "novice". Even though I had been taking photographs for over 30 years, I am new to digital photography and also to night photography.
Because I dislike using a tripod and because I did not take much pictures in the past, I never got round to doing night photography.
The last time I remember taking night pictures was during my first visit to Las Vegas back in 1981. The results were so so, so I was not inspired to take more.
But since buying my Fuji S5 Pro, I have been doing mainly digital night photography.
Partly, I don't have better alternatives. The weather in Singapore is not good at this time of the year and most days, it is either raining or heavily overcast.
The above night photograph of Fish & Co restaurant, taken at Penang Road at the back of Orchard Road, was one of my early attempts.
The original image was much darker. It was taken at ISO 1600 but the digital noise was still acceptable, as you can see from this 100 percent crop of the guy on the lower left.
I lightened the shadows with Photoshop and this increased the noise, so I reduced it with Neat Image -- a great noise reduction software -- to get the final image above.
Digital night photography at ISO 3200
The ability to take night pictures at up to ISO 3200 has opened up a whole new world for me.
It means that I don't need a tripod. This is further helped by the fact that modern digital cameras generally produce a lot less shake (and my hands are quite steady). I have been able to take relatively sharp night photographs at shutter speeds as low as 1/5 second.
As I was leaving the Fish & Co restaurant, I cross the road and spotted an advertising slogan, on the top of a bus, that was seemed to be addressed to photographers.
And so I snapped another picture.
As it turned out, the color ofthe wording wasn't accurate. The real colors, if I remember correctly, were closer to white. But never mind.. I thought it made a interesting digital night photograph all the same :
Never before have I taken so many night pictures -- a couple of hundred (although with many repeats) in the past six weeks or so. And I quickly realised that digital night photography offers plenty of possibilities, not just buildings and skylines, or the lines of light produced by moving cars but also water reflections, common, everyday objects and even night portraits...
One of my favourites so far is this image below, which I like especially for its rich colors:
It is some sort of an advertisement, an image of the name of a bar and restaurant, Balcony, projected onto the floor. This was outside The Heeren Building along Singapore's Orchard Road and the floor happened to be wet that night (after the rain), giving extra sheen to the image.
The image was shot at ISO 3200. I adjusted the exposure and contrast slightly. But because of the nature of the image, I did not feel it necessary to apply any noise reduction.
Another that I like, this time for its minimal colors -- giving the feel of black and white night photography -- is this night picture of a huge Chanel signboard at Ngee Ann City. This image was shot on the same night, also at ISO 3200 and without any noise reduction.
Whie the signboard and other night lights can be very bright, I don't let very dark scenes stop me from taking night pictures. After all, unlike with using film, I can simply shoot and see what happens and if it works out, well and good...
This was what I did one night while having my usual teh halia (ginger tea) with my friend at Bussorah Street, near the Sultan Mosque.
I looked ahead and saw the back of some old shophouses, with spiral staircases. I had taken a picture of the scene before, in the evening when it was still quite bright.
At that time, I happened to have black and whilte film. The result was not great but I liked the composition. I coloured the final image and added some blue sky and clouds for a surreal effect:
Now, I was looking at the same scene, from a different angle, at a different time of the day, or rather, night.
There was a lamp post in front of the buidling, but it was some distance away. So the building itself was in near complete darkness.
I decided to shoot and see what happens... The first shot turned out not bad. It was bright enough to see the details of the back wall. I took a few more, experimenting with different exposures and compositions.
Finally, this was what I settled with:
I have lots more night photos to share. Click below for:
For now, I'd like to end off with a very common, everyday object. It's just a lamp post, which I spotted in my neighbourhood. On its own, a lamp post is nothing special. But the grille of a metal bench in front, plus the lights from the block of flats in the background make for a rather interesting picture.
And once again, the blue tone adds a nice mood. I hope you enjoy this gallery of digital night photographs.
Good night ;-)