Night Time Photography

Well one thing I have always intended to do and never got round to it was to photograph the moon – and as we arrived at something like 2:30am in Yorkshire I decided that the first shots of the holiday were to be of the moon. But I was not only going to use my new zoom lens, but I was also going to use the teleconverters as well – as many as I could attach!
Please note that all linked moon shots are 100% crops (that is full sized crops of the moon from the original photos). Normal editing has been done to them, including sharpening the end result.

All shots taken with:
Cannon ESO 400D
Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS
Tripod 055XPROB + 322RC2

Also used:
Sigma 2* Teleconverter
Canon 2* Teleconverter

For exif data save and review properties of the thumbnail version only – exif not attached to larger versions of shots.

Night 1
Both 2* teleconverters

f5.6, ISO 400, 1/500sec, no flash, manual mode used.
I used manual mode for these shots as auto exposure shots were underestimating the brightness of the moon in the night and overexposing the shots – which meant I had to play a little with manual settings to get a good clear shot.
For this one the 2 teleconverters (making it an 800mm lens in total+extra because the 400D is not a full frame camera) added a lot of weight to the setup and it was enough (at the angle used) to cause the 322 to lose its grip and slide the lens back, hence I had to hold up the camera.
Note that exif does not correctly detect the Sigma teleconverter in this setup

Only Canon 2*TC

f5.6, ISO 400, 1/500sec, no flash, manual mode used.
A clearly sharper shot, smaller, but definitely a sharper result from a single teleconverter.
ps – ISO 400 is because it was very late and I was tired 😉

Night 2

An interesting light on the moon prompted me to try moon shots again

Both 2* teleconverters

f8, ISO 100, 1/4sec, no flash, manual mode.
A far better result this time around – much sharper than before. I used a smaller aperture based on my reading in Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson, which outlined that f8-f13 was a general area on most lenses where they tend to deliver the sharpest results. Though I accept that also using a lower ISO will have helped as well.

Only Canon 2*TC

f8, ISO 100, 1/10sec, no flash, manual mode.
Again a sharper result than before; a shame that I had missed the apex of the moon though, something to try again when I get the chance.

f8, ISO 100, 15sec, no flash, manual mode.
Whilst out at night a friend also started to play with his camera and a torch. I also did a trial of this as well – using bulb mode for the shutter speed so as to control the shutter fully manually. I am pleased with the end result – though it is clear that it is better to keep the torch pointing directly at the lens, rather than to the side (unless one is after a weaker intensity line to follow).

Night Wildlife

Well I also got the chance to have my first go at night wildlife photography whilst on holiday as well – and whilst I did make some bad first time errors I did learn a lot in a very short space of time!

f2.8, ISO 100, 1/8sec, flash used, manual mode.
Well I used a wide aperture due to the darkness. A friend was holding the flashlight which I originally thought would provide enough light to help get a good exposure – however it was clear even from a review on the back of the camera that it was not helping much with the shot. I also should add that I was unable to get my flash unit auto focusing assist beam for dark shooting to work. Try as I might it would not work in anything but the auto camera modes. In the end this problem lasted all week (and affected my cave shooting as well as seen later) and it was not until I came back that I worked out that it was my focusing mode – I tend to shoot moving subjects so I also tend to say in Servo mode and the flash assist beam won’t fire in that mode. Changing to the other modes and the beam fires as normal – a lesson learnt there!

f2.8, ISO 100, 1/4sec, flash fired, manual mode.

f2.8, ISO 100, 1/4sec, flash fired, manual mode.
These next two shots I took with the flashlight off – using the flash auto adjustment feature to fire the flash (manually) once before for the flash to detect the needed amount for a good exposure and then pressed the shutter button to take the shot and thus also fire the flash at those settings.
This has worked well – far better than I thought – and the results are good. I could have spent far longer shooting the little guy, but after being spotted by the husky on a walk (which alerted me to his presence) and then being flashed by not only a torch, but 2 flashes (my friend with a bridge camera – and working AF assist beam ;)) I thought that by now he had had enough so we left him in peace. I took with me the lessons learnt so that next time I won’t have to mess around like this time around (though chances are I will need more than one more go to get good at this!)

Lessons Learnt (besides general night time shooting experience)

1) Fatigue leads to errors being made!

2) Wider apertures can yield sharper and more pleasing results – don’t just go for the widest because you can – have a reason (shame I did not learn this properly till the end of the holiday ;))

3) When stacking lenses with teleconverters of different brands sometimes not all the information is carried to the camera – in this case the details about the sigma teleconverter is not being carried – thus the camera thinks it only has one TC attached – this affects its minumum aperture – which should be f11 – but the camera reports only the first TC as so allows for a wider aperture to be used (hence the darker first shots with both TCs) – Thanks Helen


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