Portland, Oregon-based photographer - 503.421.5700

Darkness Appreciation Month

Added on by Thomas Boyd.


I headed out on my second night of shooting. My goal is to find some interesting scenes at night as we approach Winter Solstice.

I wanted to explain some of the technical things I learned about shooting long exposures with a Canon Mark III. There's nothing groundbreaking here, but, if you're like me, you don't shoot like this very often. It took me some experimentation to get the image quality I wanted.

The equipment: I used Canon 50/1.4 EF and a 24/1.4L lenses. I had the camera mounted on an Induro carbon fiber tripod with an Arca Swiss B2 head. I fired the camera with a Canon remote trigger that allowed me make as long as exposures as I wanted without moving the camera. As always, I processed the raw images in Aperture. I then used Aperture plugins Viveza to selectively tone the images, Noise Ninja to handle the noise, and Sharpener Pro for raw pre-sharpening.

Most of the shots were at 100 or 125 ISO. If there were people in the scene, I would turn it up to 400 ISO. The first thing I did was to take off the protective UV filters off both lenses. This reduces reflections.

Focusing in low light is very difficult, even with the bright lenses I was using. The autofocus won't do it and the viewfinder is not bright enough. This is where the Live View feature comes in. For some reason, it can see very well in the dark and makes focusing easy when the image is zoomed in at 5x or 10x. I was really blown a way at how accurate it was. In fact, it was so sharp, it made me realize I probably need to set the micro adjustment on all my lenses because they looked sharper than what I'm getting with normal autofocus. I'll write an entry about that later.