Photographing lamp posts

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#1

I have been talking photos of lamp posts, but they just do not come out right. I love the way the light shines below in an arc, and catches the swirling mist below the post. I just can't capture what I see, all I get is a bright ball of light. Any hints or tips, would be welcome. Thanks :)
 
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KIPAX

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#2
If you are not getting what you want then you are getting what the camera wants.. presume your in some sort of semi auto mode.. your going to have to take over.. manual control :)
 
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jonbeeza
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#3
If you are not getting what you want then you are getting what the camera wants.. presume your in some sort of semi auto mode.. your going to have to take over.. manual control :)
I have been using Aperture priority, high ISO wide open. This was so I could get a decent speed hand held.
 

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#4
I have been using Aperture priority, high ISO wide open. This was so I could get a decent speed hand held.
It's quite a dark setting... A tripod would help... Try to use some exposure compensation and check the back of your camera to see what the picture is like and keep taking at different settings
 
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#6
You might need to take several shots and merge to get what you're after.
Using a tripod is only giving you a longer exposure, which will improve the shadows but blow the light even more
 
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#7
I have been using Aperture priority, high ISO wide open. This was so I could get a decent speed hand held.
There is your problem. I've photographed absolutely hundreds of outdoor lights for various commercial purposes.

So Tripod, manual, ISO 100. Meter off the light and dial in the settings, then add flash to balance.
 
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jonbeeza
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#8
You might need to take several shots and merge to get what you're after.
Using a tripod is only giving you a longer exposure, which will improve the shadows but blow the light even more
I have tried using in camera multi shots, this gives a clearer image, but the lamp light still comes out as a big ball of light.
 
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#9
I'd try bracketing exposures (at constant aperture) and HDR. No need to go for an extreme effect - most HDR progs offer merging that's not obvious HDR. Lightroom 6 does it quite naturally
 
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jonbeeza
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#10
There is your problem. I've photographed absolutely hundreds of outdoor lights for various commercial purposes.

So Tripod, manual, ISO 100. Meter off the light and dial in the settings, then add flash to balance.
I am using the Canon G7X, pop up tilted flash possible. But what would the flash illuminate, the post? As sometimes it is just a solitary illuminated post, that I want to take a photo of. I just want to capture the way the ray of light arcs down, sometimes catching the swirling mist. All I get, is a big bright ball of light.
 
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#11
I am using the Canon G7X, pop up tilted flash possible. But what would the flash illuminate, the post? As sometimes it is just a solitary illuminated post, that I want to take a photo of. I just want to capture the way the ray of light arcs down, sometimes catching the swirling mist. All I get, is a big bright ball of light.
You need to expose for the light.
 
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jonbeeza
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#12
You need to expose for the light.
I do put the focus point on the lamp, so the camera should be able to work out the settings from there. Unless I need to change the metering mode? I am using Evaluative Metering at the moment, maybe I should change to Spot Metering? :thinking:
 
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#13
I am using the Canon G7X, pop up tilted flash possible. But what would the flash illuminate, the post? As sometimes it is just a solitary illuminated post, that I want to take a photo of. I just want to capture the way the ray of light arcs down, sometimes catching the swirling mist. All I get, is a big bright ball of light.
Photography is all about control. You need to control the light in power, location(s) / directions and its properties. With a pop up flash you'll be extremely limited.
 
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#14
I do put the focus point on the lamp, so the camera should be able to work out the settings from there. Unless I need to change the metering mode? I am using Evaluative Metering at the moment, maybe I should change to Spot Metering? :thinking:
Spot meter off the light.
The light should look good, but the rest of the scene will be very dark.
 
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jonbeeza
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#15
Looks like I have a mission, and that mission is to get out and get photos of lamp posts, in the dead of night. I wonder what the neighbours will make of it, when they peer through their curtains. They will see a figure under a lamp post, taking photos. :)
 
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#16
Spot meter off the light.
The light should look good, but the rest of the scene will be very dark.
And that's exactly why you then need flash to light the lamp post.
Carefully controlled flash to balance. You may also need a long shutter speed as well.
 
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jonbeeza
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#18
And that's exactly why you then need flash to light the lamp post.
Carefully controlled flash to balance. You may also need a long shutter speed as well.
He's only got the ocf though.
I have got a DSLR and a very very old flashgun that I rigged up to work. But I don't want to be going about in the dead of night, with a clumsy DSLR with a lens, and a flashgun, oh and a tripod. I really would like to travel light, and use a compact. Well, I will keep trying and see what is the best I can achieve, with the G7X.

Thanks for the input so far. :)
 
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#19
Dynamic range will be a big problem - the lamp itself is extremely bright compared to the almost totally dark shadows. I doubt there's a camera in existence to handle that well in a single exposure. HDR is the answer - which is basically the way our eyes work.

ps Good luck using flash if it's misty ;)
 
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#20
I have got a DSLR and a very very old flashgun that I rigged up to work. But I don't want to be going about in the dead of night, with a clumsy DSLR with a lens, and a flashgun, oh and a tripod. I really would like to travel light, and use a compact. Well, I will keep trying and see what is the best I can achieve, with the G7X.

Thanks for the input so far. :)
I think you are going to struggle without taking full manual control and additional lighting due to the huge dynamic range of the subject, but there might be ways to get closer to what you want.
Not used a G7X but has been on my radar for a while so have a little knowledge. It does seem to have a built in HDR mode which might be worth playing with. From my understanding the standard HDR setting doesnt give a very wide EV range, but the Art HDR modes do extend this range so might be more effective. You will almost certainly need a tripod to avoid blurring as the bracketed exposures will be a lot longer.
Just a suggestion of something to try, not saying it will work but worth a play?
 
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#21
Two main problems with capturing the scene as you experience it are dynamic range and flare.

You don't need a full HDR process, just make a composite of two or three different exposures. I often balance interiors with the outside scene through windows this way. Ideally use the self timer or a remote release and shoot tripod-mounted, or whatever support you can come up with, to imobilise the camera for consistent image registration.

I wouldn't try to get the final exposure using any auto exposure mode, just meter for a starting point and set exposure in Manual. Choose your aperture and lowest practical ISO, then alter only the shutter speed between shots.

I think it might be preferable to look for a viewpoint that reveals the effect of the lamp but masks the light source itself. Shoot from behind the angle of the lamp housing or compose the scene with something in the foreground, maybe a tree, to obscure the lamp.
 
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jonbeeza
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#22
There is a lamp post outside the back of ours, only feet away. I have been trying to experiment with this, but only very quickly. Trouble is, when I am pointing the camera at that post, I am pointing the camera on the neighbours bedroom windows. Otherwise it would be the ideal post, in my own back garden, with butties and a flask of Coffee, I could have experimented for hours.

Xmas pressies are wrapped, Turkey in fridge ready for tomorrow. Everything sorted, so I might have time tonight, to try more lamp shots. :)
 
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#23
There is a lamp post outside the back of ours, only feet away. I have been trying to experiment with this, but only very quickly. Trouble is, when I am pointing the camera at that post, I am pointing the camera on the neighbours bedroom windows. Otherwise it would be the ideal post, in my own back garden, with butties and a flask of Coffee, I could have experimented for hours.

Xmas pressies are wrapped, Turkey in fridge ready for tomorrow. Everything sorted, so I might have time tonight, to try more lamp shots. :)
You'll end up starting a new craze....:D
 
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#24

Moving in closer and getting a slightly different angle, I have got a place to stick a tripod, for a night shot. Only trouble is, I am right up against the neighbours window. When I next see them, I will tell them I am doing night photos. They will most likely think I am a weirdo. :eek:
 
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#27
And that's exactly why you then need flash to light the lamp post.
Carefully controlled flash to balance. You may also need a long shutter speed as well.
Won’t adding a further light in mist completely change the scene he’s trying to capture?

I’m not asking, I’m being polite, a second light source from any direction will ruin the shot he’s aiming for (it might help to read what he’s trying to capture again).
 
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#28

Moving in closer and getting a slightly different angle, I have got a place to stick a tripod, for a night shot. Only trouble is, I am right up against the neighbours window. When I next see them, I will tell them I am doing night photos. They will most likely think I am a weirdo. :eek:
Ignore the flash comments.
What you’re trying to capture is the diffraction of the mist round the light source, add another light source and you add a whole other bunch of diffraction, total mess if the flash is near the camera, total confusion if it’s anywhere else.

You need to keep dialling down the exposure until you have captured the diffraction, and use that exp as a basis for some bracketed exposures. Changing metering mode won’t help, your meter won’t have a clue in any mode, you’ll just have to experiment.
 
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jonbeeza
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#29
Ignore the flash comments.
What you’re trying to capture is the diffraction of the mist round the light source, add another light source and you add a whole other bunch of diffraction, total mess if the flash is near the camera, total confusion if it’s anywhere else.

You need to keep dialling down the exposure until you have captured the diffraction, and use that exp as a basis for some bracketed exposures. Changing metering mode won’t help, your meter won’t have a clue in any mode, you’ll just have to experiment.
Been experimenting a little more, still a little hit and miss. :)
 
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jonbeeza
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#30

Been out the front, and down the path. Been trying with the D3300 and 35mm prime. Been trying various things.
The image above shows steam coming out of the neighbours boiler, and swirling under the lamp. I am just using it, to replicate a foggy scene.


I am not having much luck, but I am not giving up just yet. I will be out another night. :)
 
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#31
John, at first I thought you'd gone mad but reading the thread I'm getting interested and I can see where you're coming from. For years I've been fascinated by taking pictures of the outside world through the window where I happen to be. Strange how things grab you isn't it :D

My contribution, taken with a 35mm at f1.4. We were walking home after watching a creepy film and it was all misty and oh er outside...



I'll make a point of trying to do better.
 
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#32
John, at first I thought you'd gone mad but reading the thread I'm getting interested and I can see where you're coming from. For years I've been fascinated by taking pictures of the outside world through the window where I happen to be. Strange how things grab you isn't it :D

My contribution, taken with a 35mm at f1.4. We were walking home after watching a creepy film and it was all misty and oh er outside...



I'll make a point of trying to do better.
Very good contribution, yes that is the sort of idea I am trying to get. I see scenes like that most mornings while out walking the dog, usually in the wee small hours. Nobody about just me and the dog, and half expecting a figure to come looming out of the misty fog. Sometimes I see a great little scene, where the misty fog is swirling just nicely under a glowing lamp. It looks great and I must capture the scene, but most of the time I fail. I end up with a misty scene, illuminated by a glowing ball.

Thanks for the contribution, good effort. (y)
 
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#35
Looking at the submitted images above, and I am thinking of trying in Black and White. Maybe with a very high ISO and in B/W, might give the image a more sinister and eerie look.
 
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#36
Looking at the submitted images above, and I am thinking of trying in Black and White. Maybe with a very high ISO and in B/W, might give the image a more sinister and eerie look.
High ISO is not necessarily your friend here. The problem you *appear* to be having is that you're exposing for the general scene and not for the light, which is then always over-exposed. Using high ISO will make this just so much worse, as it reduces the dynamic range of your camera sensor.

Think about how you would try to get detail if you were shooting the sun directly - essentially what you're doing since you're trying to photograph the light source for the scene. Consider how you might get some detail in both light source and general scene, and don't be afraid to let quite a bit of the image go black.

If I were trying this then I'd want to use the camera in spot meter mode, metering off a bright-ish patch of mist in front of the lamp, even metering off the lamp itself. Lots of trial and error should bring rewards.
 
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#37
High ISO is not necessarily your friend here. The problem you *appear* to be having is that you're exposing for the general scene and not for the light, which is then always over-exposed. Using high ISO will make this just so much worse, as it reduces the dynamic range of your camera sensor.

Think about how you would try to get detail if you were shooting the sun directly - essentially what you're doing since you're trying to photograph the light source for the scene. Consider how you might get some detail in both light source and general scene, and don't be afraid to let quite a bit of the image go black.

If I were trying this then I'd want to use the camera in spot meter mode, metering off a bright-ish patch of mist in front of the lamp, even metering off the lamp itself. Lots of trial and error should bring rewards.
I thought maybe I could use a fast shutter, to tone down the lamp brightness. Then bring darker areas up in RAW. I will be back out, over the next day or two. I am determined to crack this. :)
 
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#39
I thought maybe I could use a fast shutter, to tone down the lamp brightness. Then bring darker areas up in RAW. I will be back out, over the next day or two. I am determined to crack this. :)
Try taking pictures of an ordinary lightbulb indoors & see what you get. I suspect you'll find that the settings that work best for that will provide a good starting point.
 
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#40
I had a heck of a time getting my head around taking pics of fire spinners.
When I first started I was using high ISO as I wanted detail in the pics. Then reviewing them you realise how over exposed they were.
Easier in my case to your lamp post problem in that I use flash with a long exposure (typically 1/4 or 1/2 second) and f10 or so.
Flash is normally about 1/4 power and adjusted to suit.

This is fine if there is no mist in the shot :)
Depending on the number of fire spinners, there can be quite a bit of smoke around which makes flash interesting...
 
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