Night water reflections photography
The first time I tried night water reflections photography, I was pleasantly surprised.
I had taken a night picture of some buildings by the Singapore River. The buildings were lit but the river was dark, with just a hint of water reflections. When I checked the image on the LCD screen of my Fuji S5 Pro, I saw a riot of colors. It seems the camera "saw" a lot more than my eyes did.
Apart from being more colorful, the picture was also much brighter than I had expected. In fact, as I experimented further, I even had one picture that was heavily over-exposed, with several blotches of washed-out, pure white...
All this from taking night water reflections of a river that, to my eyes, looked almost completely black!
The over-exposure was due -- I've only now realised -- to a careless mistake. I had earlier set my camera to "Auto Bracketing” with maybe one or two f-stops difference. I was new to my Fuji S5 Pro and just experimenting with things.
So even though I had set the exposure bias at just +0.3 EV, the image was taken at a very much brighter exposure -- at ISO 1600, f5.6, exposure time 2.2 seconds!
I never expected a night water reflections image to look as bright as this :-(
And this encouraged me later to take night pictures even when the scene was very, very dark. You can view examples on my page about night photography tips, which shows a somewhat different type of night water reflections
The very next shot I took was the one at the top of this page. The exposure -- at 0.8 seconds, other settings same as before -- came out just about right. I cannot remember if I did any adjustments on Photoshop but even if I did, it was minimal. I do remember that the original picture looked pretty much like what is shown above.
I took quite a few shots that night, not just of the night water reflections but including the row of restaurants and pubs along Boat Quay by the river, and the Asian Civilisation Museum on the opposite bank.
Due to the long exposure, however, many of the pictures had camera shake and are not worth showing. I also found the more straight-forward composition not as interesting as the one above showing just the water reflections, which is somewhat abstract.
Just as I was leaving the place, however, I saw came across some tourists (four young guys) taking pictures of themselves using, guess what... also a Fujifilm camera!
This was at the bridge across the Singapore River, along South Bridge Road. I chatted with them a while and viewed their pictures. They were South Americans with limited English, but the camera owner and I both agreed that the Fuji was "very good".
So I decided to take just a couple more night water reflections photographs of the Singapore River, this time showing the skyscrapers of the Raffles Place business district in the background.
But brightening the image overall with Photoshop would not work in this case. I went instead to Image > Adjustments > Shadow / Hightlight to brighten just the shadow areas, moving the Shadows Amount to 45 percent and the Tonal Width to 90 percent. I kept the Radius at 30 px, which was the default setting.
This is what I finally settled with:
For a first attempt, I think I did not do too badly.
Click here to view my second experiment with night water reflections photography. Well, this second series was not actually taken at night, but late in the evening when the light was low. It's quite abstract and you may or may not like it. But I can assure you, it is something out of the ordinary! Go take a look...