How/where to take good photos of Brisbane at night?

Discussion in 'Photography & Video' started by trackhappy, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. trackhappy

    trackhappy Member

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    Hey guys, I've gotten into night photography a little bit, and I'm curious about two things.

    1. Where is a good place to take nighttime cityscapes of Brisbane, either close/on the river or further out?

    2. What's wrong with these photos?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The first one maybe isn't so bad, but the second one the sky is all screwed up. The first photo was taken with a nifty fifty, and the second I believe is a Sigma 17-70 f/2.8 lens.

    ISOs for both were 100, the 50's shutter and aperture were 10" and f/10. The Sigma was 30" and f/8.

    How can I increase the sharpness of the buildings etc? What is the phenomenon that occurs with large lights?

    I'm still very noob with photography, so for the most part am learning with a friend's 500D and said lenses.

    So let me know of ways I can improve! (And where I can improve)
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2012
  2. jamesski

    jamesski Member

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    Cant offer any advice re-settings, as only picked up a D5100 myself.

    If you want to practice long exposures use the Brisbane Wheel at night time and vary your shutter speed.

    here is a 30sec exposure

    [​IMG]
    DSC_0113 by jamesski, on Flickr
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2012
  3. Modafroman

    Modafroman Member

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    Anywhere you find interesting.

    Frankly I find Mt Coot-Tha boring and uninspiring. In fact I can almost guarantee I have photos that are exactly the same framing as both of your photos, as would a lot of other Brisbane-nites.

    Nothing really wrong with those 2 photos, hard to tell without exif though but they look fairly noisy. Straighten those horizons!

    Sharpness of the buildings is probably not going to get much better due to it being far away on a wide angle - just make sure your tripod is solid, your focus is bang on and you don't have any filters.

    The thing with the lights is just what happens with long exposures - the number of points on the star is as a result of the number of aperture blades your lens has, usually odd numbered blades gives better looking stars :p

    The sky on the second one isn't screwed up, that's just how big city skies are, lots of light and air pollution means the atmosphere reflects light and gives it a reddy haze to the sky.

    My tips for night photography:

    1) Find an interesting spot (obviously haha)
    2) Turn on Mirror Lockup Mode (or Mirror Up Mode on Nikon)
    3) Make sure your tripod is on solid footing and won't move at all during the exposure
    4) Use a remote shutter release. If you don't have one, use self timer mode, should be enough time for you to let go of the camera and for the tripod to stabilse.
    5) Focus using liveview -> More often than not it's too dark for your camera to focus using phase detect af (in the viewfinder), plus liveview gives you a good way of seeing how the framing will be
    6) Use the lowest ISO (100)
    7) Use a small aperture -> You can go all the way to the smallest, F16 or F22 if you want, but I find ~f8-13 is usually enough to have everything sharp, in focus and not soft from diffraction at smaller apertures
    8) Adjust your shutter speed accordingly to get a proper exposure
    9) Shoot RAW. Edit in Lightroom or whatever program you want.
    10) Take off all filters!!!! Also use a lens hood.
    11) For shorter exposures (ie that aren't hours long) turn on long exposure noise reduction. It doubles the exposure time, because it takes another photo with the same settings, just with the shutter closed, and uses that to take out hot pixels and what not.

    Most importantly, go out and shoot, practice and keep at it :)

    @jamesski, that shot is way way way overexposured man. Also looks like you've got some crazy lens flare going on - probably because you have a filter on?
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2012
  4. Benno1988

    Benno1988 Member

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    Go to Kangaroo point mate. Much closer and more interesting. More colourful and you get the reflections off the water too.

    Straighten up the horizon too!
     
  5. Sili

    Sili Member

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    1. The Ekka is just around the corner, go to sideshow alley at night. :thumbup:

    2. Wilson's lookout, nice shot of the Story Bridge with the city behind it.

    3. Southbank parklands look across the river towards the city (colourful lights of the Treasury Casino) + as jamesski mentioned the wheel.

    4. Further up past Southbank towards the QLD museum there is the Kurilpa Bridge and William Jolley Bridge.
     
  6. OP
    OP
    trackhappy

    trackhappy Member

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    Thanks guys. Three more questions.

    1. How do I use long exposure noise reduction on a 500D? Does it have it, and if so where can I find it?

    2. I've taken shots from along the river, but I'm looking for something higher up and maybe a bit further away from the city - maybe 3-5k's out. And also maybe something from an observation deck in the city. Do these exist? Are there any public/easy to get to observation decks in Brisbane?

    I shot this on the Gold Coast from the Q1 deck and I still think it's the best photo I've ever taken.

    [​IMG]


    Is there a place I can try and duplicate this in Brisbane? Lots of buildings in view and maybe a nice road (or two) for a light trail.

    3. Yes! Horizons! I know! I've been complained at many times for crap horizons, but fact of the matter is, I'm just not a good judge of horizons. The spirit level on the tripod ball doesn't seem to help either. What are some things I can do to be a better judge of horizons? Are there even any in-camera tools to help with this? I know the 60D has this feature, but as far as the 500D goes, I can't find anything.

    I may revisit this thread in a few days with some more photos taking into account your suggestions.

    And as for the Ekka, I don't like the ekka. The only thing that's free at the ekka is flu and bubonic plague. If I can get in cheap enough, maybe I'll risk those diseases. It's not like I'm into showbags or rides or anything... but I would like to go for the fireworks.

    Any tips on fireworks photos as well would be awesome.

    Thanks again.
     
  7. Modafroman

    Modafroman Member

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    Long exposure noise reduction on the 500D: In the menu (Orange Spanner with 3 dots) C.FN II -> Item 4, turn it to either 1 or 2.

    Don't think theres a built in tool on the 500D, just gotta use a level on the tripod, line everything up, and if all else fails rotate in photoshop/lightroom.

    Fireworks, (as much as I hate him) see:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3P8GwMCOr8

    and

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91VTKpA-Qtw

    Edit: Also, if you're a student, see if your uni has a photography society. UQ has the UQ Photography Society, which I somehow got roped into going along and being a semi-mentor.... sigh.
     
  8. Taceo Corpus

    Taceo Corpus Member

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    In my opinion, get closer. The first two photos you posted are a bit boring because of how much black space there is and the light trails on the motorway in #1 distract from the city.

    There are a few places as mentioned out at Kangaroo Point and elsewhere along the river where a good wide-angle lens can have a lot of fun with the city lights. I've always wanted to try finding a high point in Southbank (maybe one of the buildings or something near the Cultural Centre bus stop) and shooting the riverside expressway at night. I've just never had time and good weather at the same time. :(
     
  9. shadowarrior

    shadowarrior Member

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    Ahh! Finally some Bris/GC photographers! We should have Brissy/GC photo walk/meets :) A nice way to learn and take more pics while having fun imo.

    The GC shot of Surfer's from Q1 looks really nice.

    @jamesski what ISO were you using in that shot? Think it was too high for a 30 second exposure. With the aperture wide open since you had your main subject fairly close, you could have gone for a 5 second exposure with maybe around ISO 200-400 to get the wheel's colour.

    While taking night city scape/land scape shots, I tend to manually set the focus to infinity, keeping the aperture around f/8~f/16 (sometimes go bigger aperture). I don't go beyond f/16 to avoid diffraction. ISO depends on the available light around me and shutter speed depends on what form of action I want to capture.

    I turn off Image Stabilization every time I use a tripod, and always use the 2 second timer feature (since I don't have a remote yet).

    Another thing which I have learn't and try to practice is experimenting with different light reading points and types. Spot metering vs Evaluative; metering the brightest point in the frame vs metering the shadows.
     
  10. jezza323

    jezza323 Member

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    Night is not actually a great time for city shots

    You really want to go out at sunset through to blue hour (before the sky goes completely black). When the sky is totally black it is boring, and you can get light reflecting off the dust/smoke/cloud which looks pretty crappy IMO. A little colour in the sky ads a lot (this is sunrise, but you get the idea)

    [​IMG]
    Dawn at The Summit - Mt Cootha by jezza323, on Flickr

    Anywhere along the river at southbank/kangaroo point will be good. Cootha is pretty good for sunrise, especially if you go at the right time of year as the sun comes up pretty close to the city

    Also a decent view from the lookout at the back of the valley there (looks at story bridge with city in the background, forget the name of it), and from the story bridge itself.

    Good luck :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2012
  11. OP
    OP
    trackhappy

    trackhappy Member

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    Yeah a photo walk might be interesting.

    Also I have a question about Q1, considering I assume you've been up there by the fact that you're a photographer, you live on the Gold Coast and it's pretty much the photo spot where getting robbed is only a remote possiblity.

    Anyway. When I was shooting up there, I had a really big problem with the windows, that being even when the lens was as pressed up against the glass as I could possibly get, the front of the lens would *still* let light in from the sides and give horrible refraction.

    Here's an example of that.

    [​IMG]

    I'd like to go back, so any tips on getting around this problem before I go back up there?
     
  12. shadowarrior

    shadowarrior Member

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    Usually a polarizing filter helps to eliminate glass reflection amongst other things. You would have to angle the camera at 30 degrees at the opposite of the light source while staying very close to the glass..so it takes bit of effort to compose the shots. During the day you will have trouble with the outside light messing up your shot as well.

    An alternative is using rubber hoods for the lens.

    Check these links for some info and example on using polarizing filters:
    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/polarizing-filters.htm
    http://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/DigiCam/User-Guide/filter/polarizer.html

    I took this shot at an angle through the shop's display window and used a wide aperture to put any possible glass marks/scratches blown out of focus. When I tried composing the shot at 90 degrees to the shoes, there was a lot of reflection from the light behind me (you can see that on the New Arrivals board)

    [​IMG]
    A colourful run by shadowarrior, on Flickr

    I am sure there are ways to eliminate reflection in post processing. Am a complete noob when it comes to Photoshop/Light room, just know the basics and learning the rest of it.

    Btw, I haven't been up Q1 yet...keep telling myself that I should :p
     
  13. zach

    zach (Banned or Deleted)

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    If you can get to QUT GP, Q block level 9 has pretty swell views of the city, I take girls up there for romance all of the time. Same with S block level 9 but that might be a bit more difficult.

    I'm always down for a photo hang out.
     
  14. OP
    OP
    trackhappy

    trackhappy Member

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    How hard is it to get to QUT? Can you get in trouble if you're found up there? I don't study at uni so I wouldn't know... lol.
     
  15. zach

    zach (Banned or Deleted)

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    Only if you get caught :Pirate:.
     
  16. Benno1988

    Benno1988 Member

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    I was in the penthouse apartment of the second tallest building in Brisbane the other day. Had killer City views!
     
  17. crispy12

    crispy12 Member

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    Yeah completely agree with this, such a good tip!

    I bike along the River Bikeway from Milton to Kangaroo Point, around the story bridge etc about 2 hours before sunset with all my gear and a small tripod in a Domke bag. It's a good workout and less of a chore to exercise when I'm on the lookout for a new place to shoot :) I usually go around 3-5.30pm, after that usually results in horrid photos when the sky turns too dark.

    I've been to Mt Cootha lookout and it's pretty dull, but i've seen some good photos at dawn/dusk on flickr
     

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