Jan 11 2013 by Cheryl McEvoy, Ayrshire Post
It’s been another dreich old Christmas this year, but on the plus side, if you didn’t get a pair of socks or pants, chances are you might have got a spanking new camera.
If you did, then you’ll know the feeling of looking out of the window and thinking to yourself, ‘Ranulph Fiennes would think twice about that weather and the light, what light?’
But do not despair, this time of year lacks light and that’s that. It doesn’t mean that your brand new camera has to languish in its box forever. Far from it.
Although challenging, it can be great fun and you can return home like the triumphant hunter with some great night-time images that will have your friends and family believing that your not as thick as they thought.
Now photography does tend to suffer accessory madness, (you need this filter, this lens, that camera strap and in our case a tripod). I hate to admit this, but I haven’t used a tripod in 30 years. They’re bulky, expensive and make you look like a Victorian artiste of light and shade.
What we have to ask ourselves is, ‘What’s a tripod for?’ Of course, the answer is to keep the camera steady, because the exposure time on a night-time shot is going to be long. (The shutter is going to be open longer to let more light in and if we don’t keep the camera steady the picture will turn out blurrier than your Christmas hangover.)
Instead of a tripod I tend to use a wall, a camera case or even a car roof to balance the camera on, as long as it’s steady.
The next thing you need to do is put the camera on to, you guessed it, the easy-peasy automatic setting with flashwitch set to off. Then set the self-timer.
The reason for this is because the action of pressing the shutter release button causes the camera to move slightly.
Then we’re back to square one, and the mintage will be blurred. The self-timer eliminates this.
Next, compose the shot, balance the camera and press the button. Leave well alone until you hear the shutter click. Take a few shots just to be sure and before you leave the scene, magnify the image on the back of the camera to make sure it’s nice and sharp.
Problems with colour balance are normal and these can be corrected on your computer or indeed these days on camera.
Now in the shot, above, I’ve taken of Ayr’s iconic New Bridge.
However, you can use thistechnique in lots of scenarios as long as there’s a wee bit of light in the scene. Even, believe it or not, in moon light. It’s surprising, but the camera in this case can be more sensitive than your eye.
One other thing to remember, is that if any lights are moving, for instance traffic, they will trail across the picture, but that can look funky.
As always folks, experiment, enjoy and delete the rubbish.
● Iain Brown has worked extensively as a national press and wedding photographer and currently runs Ayr based Reportage Photography.
You can contact him on01292 262787 or log on to www.reportagephotos.com