Monthly Archives: February 2010

How to shoot better Night Shots: The ISO Factor

Night Shots

There must have been a time when your dad just got this amazing digital camera. It shoots great in the daytime but the night shots on Auto mode suck. It’s not the camera’s fault. Its yours.

This is what happens on my Sony Cybershot  P200 on Auto mode when I try to take a shot of the city at night.

Auto Mode Shot Pic

Auto Mode

 Sucks, does it not?

We can do much better. But first there are a few things we need to learn

1.Use the Manual Mode. Read the Manual

Go to the manual mode on your camera. For mine its “M”.You can set the shutter speed manually as well as the arpeture.

Shutter speed is  literally exposure time measured in seconds.Very short shutter speeds are used to freeze fast-moving subjects, for example at sporting events. Very long shutter speeds are used to intentionally blur a moving subject for artistic effect or night 30 ” (long exp) & 1/125 (daylight)

Arpeture controls the amount of light that reaches a digital camera sensor.It is measured in f-stops. A lower f-stop number opens the aperture and admits more light onto the camera sensor.e.g( f/2.8)

ISO denotes how sensitive the image sensor is to the amount of light present. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive the image sensor and therefore the possibility to take pictures in low-light situations.

 (The stuff in red is what you need to pay attention to)

2. Keep the camera still

More exposure time means any sort of moving objects will be seen as ghost images and will spoil the picture.

Get a tripod, or if one isnt available , find a flat surface and keep the camera on it with the subject in the frame and hit the auto-timer. Try not to “hold” it steady. Pay attention to the vibration warning.

3. ISO drawbacks

Higher ISO speed means higher sensivity which means more noise (like grain in old photos). We don’t want noisy photos. Usually ISO 100 is used for shooting outdoor sunny scenes where 200,300,400,and higher are used for darker conditions. You have to strike a balance between ISO speed and noise

You can see the new pictures with different ISO speeds. The ISO 400 starts to get noisy

Above shots were about 4 seconds exposure time.

4. Use Long exposure

Use the auto timer and set the exposure time to maximum like 30seconds. If you want light trails in your photos at night use this setting. Also for better light.

Long Exposure 30 secs ISO 400


5.When to use flash

Shut the flash off if you need to click a picture of the city like above

If you want a subject in front of you to come in the picture and have like light trails behind him then use the flash.


Video Tutorial – Green Screen Effects in Photoshop

A Few Tips before watching

1. Take the picture of the subject with a plain coloured (wall / sky  etc)  behind it so that the magic background eraser can easily recognise the part to be cut. You can also play around with the “Levels” to achieve this effect

2. If you are having trouble with the eraser tool or the bacground is too complicated to cut, just use the magneti lasso selection tool to draw a rough border around that part. Then feather it a good amount so that the edges get softened a bit

3.If you still have trouble, just use the normal eraser tool to rub out any remaining parts

4.You can also try something like this with multiple pictures. Use the Rotate and Perspective tools if you need to!