Photo: Night on the River

Night on the River

Nighttime at the docks, under the bridge over the river. This was a fun shoot, though anything at 3 A.M. is. I did three versions: one at 1/6, one at 3.2″, and this one at 30″. In the slower versions the water looks rippled and ugly, but with a longer exposure it’s beautifully smooth, and the streetlights turn to stars. You can see eight points to each light because my lens has eight aperture blades. If I’d have opened up all the way there would be no spikes, and if I opened up further they’d be less prominent.

The number of spikes is equal to the number of aperture blades if even, and double the number if odd, though they’ll be half as bright. They are often a nice touch. For editing, I did simple contrast and color adjustments.

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1:1.4, 30″, F9, 50mm, ISO100, 2008-07-21T02:50:56-04, 20080721-065056rxt

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Please credit me as “Photo by Richard Thripp” or something similar.

On Exposure

One thing about digital photography, a short-coming compared to film, is that you can’t recover from over-exposure (except somewhat using RAW format). So be sure to get it right the first time, because you can’t edit the detail back in. Note that in that photo, the white highlights in the sky aren’t actually clipped (if they were “clipped,” they’d be pure white), but if your monitor is too bright, you won’t be able to tell by sight. Same goes for you camera’s LCD screen. This is why you have the histogram (hopefully, anyway; I used to have a Fujifilm A360 camera that completely lacked it). If the bars trail off to the right, you know your photo has pure white areas (over-exposure), and if it continues to the left, you have pure black areas (under-exposure). If it does both, as it often will during mid-day, there is too much contrast in the scene. Usually, clipped shadows, like the ones in the black areas here, are more pleasing than clipped highlights. The sun (below) is an exception, as we expect it to be bright (same goes for the sky, but not in sky-centered photos like sunsets). The photo also has clipped shadows (the flower buds on the left), but it looks nice still. However, I increased the contrast carefully on the computer (the second image is the original); it wouldn’t look that good straight from the camera.

Yellow Sunshine (edited) Yellow Sunshine (source image)