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Shooting Street Scenes, Tips and Tricks From Night and Low-Light Photography Photo Workshop Book
Here is an excerpt from Chapter 8 from Night and Low-Light Photography Photo Workshop, excerpted with permission from John Wiley and Sons, Inc. The book is available in stores and through online retailers nationwide. Here’s a link to a multi-retailer sales page. Author Alen Hess is a professional event and concert photographer whose subjects have included The Grateful Dead, Bruce Hornsby, John Legend, Robin Williams, and many more.
When the sun sets and the city lights start to come on, it looks like the city is waking up and coming to life. The drabness of the day is slowly replaced by an energy that is most evident in the way the city is lit. Think of the city as a one-stop show for night photography, as it offers a huge variety of different subjects. These can include the street scenes, light trails, bright neon lights, and the cityscapes themselves.
There is also a lot of fun to be had photographing the same scene in both day and night and comparing them. One of the biggest differences is the direction of the light. When the scene in Figure 8-1 is lit during the day, the sun is the main light source and the light comes from overhead, but at night, the light comes from within the scene, from the lights used to illuminate the memorial from the ground up, which creates a look that does not exist during the day.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO The memorial shot at 40 seconds allowed me to capture the detail in the stone, yet the people visiting it look a lot like ghosts. Taken at 40 seconds, f/22, and ISO 100.
Big cities are a great place to capture street scenes after dark. This is because there are people, activities, and enough light sources to make all these scenes relatively easy to capture. The bigger the city, the more action there is, and the better your chances of finding something worth photographing. If you are not in a big city, then the best bet is to go out looking on a Friday or Saturday night.
The best time to photograph street scenes is right after the sun has set, while there is still some ambient light in the sky. If you are in your hometown, then you will already know where the center of the nightlife is, and will most likely know how to get there and back home. If on vacation or visiting a new area, it is a good idea to check out the area during the day if possible. The more you know the area, the easier it is to get the images you want. The activity around shopping areas and tourist attractions makes them good subjects to try. Just pick a spot and let the action flow around you, as I did in Figure 8-2 when I photographed outside the downtown mall. I used a relatively fast shutter speed and a high ISO to freeze the cars in place and make the pedestrians visible.
When shooting street scenes, there are two main points of view to try. The first is a street-level view where the camera is set up so that the action flows around it and everything looks as if it was taken at the street level. This can give your images a sense that the viewer is part of the scene, as everything looks in the proper perspective.
The other point of view is to look down on the scene from a higher vantage point, such as from a balcony, deck, hillside, or bridge that overlooks the scene. For example, the shopping mall in Figure 8-2 is built to allow views out to the surrounding streets, which provides multiple angles and views of the same scene. When photographing down from the higher levels, a longer focal length is better because the compression can make elements at various distances seem to be close together, even when they are far apart.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO Outside the Horton plaza center in San Diego. Taken at .4 second, f/2.8, and ISO 800.
As much fun as photographing is at night, it can also be a very dangerous thing to do. No matter what else is going on, your safety needs to be the most important consideration when you are out shooting. Remember to use your common sense, and don’t put yourself in danger just to get a photograph. It isn’t worth it. Here are some of the things you need to look out for:
Cars and traffic. The biggest danger when taking night photographs in the city is passing cars. Most drivers can’t see you most of the time, and by the time they do, it can be too late. Make sure that you stay off the road and on the sidewalk when shooting. Be careful where you set up your tripod to make sure it doesn’t impede the flow of foot traffic.
Shady characters and neighborhoods. There are some places where having a camera out in the open is a bad idea, and having it out at night is a worse idea. Pay attention to the neighborhood and don’t put yourself in any danger. If you have any doubts, don’t photograph there, or ask people who know the area; the best thing to do is to make sure you pay attention to your surroundings. It is very easy to get caught up in capturing an image, and people can walk right up to you before you realize they are there. Bringing along a friend can provide an extra pair of eyes looking out while you set up and take the photos.
The weather. Getting caught outdoors in the rain is one thing, but getting caught out in the rain with your camera gear is a whole other story. Not only do you have to protect yourself, but you also need to protect your camera gear. Wearing appropriate shoes and making sure you have the proper rain gear is important; check out the camera rain covers from Think Tank Photo, which are designed with photographers in mind.
Let someone know where you are. The most important safety measure is to let someone know where you are and when you plan on being back. I make sure that my wife knows where I am shooting and when I plan on being done, and I check in if any of those plans change. Just make sure that you check in when you are done. It would not be a good thing for the person awaiting your call to be up all night worrying; they might just call the police.
Follow these precautions in order to stay safe when out photographing in the city at night, especially if you are in an unfamiliar city or are on vacation. If you are on vacation, check with the hotel staff on the best places to go and those to avoid.
USING DIFFERENT SHUTTER SPEEDS
The longer the shutter is open, the more light is allowed to reach the sensor in your camera. However, the shutter speed also controls how time is captured in your images: Open the shutter speed for a tiny fraction of a second and you can freeze a moment forever; allow the shutter to open for a little longer and the razor-sharp scene starts to blur; keep the shutter open for a long time and items in motion can actually disappear from your photo.
When it comes to photographing city lights, there are no right or wrong shutter speeds; just know what the approximate results will be before taking the photo. When photographed with long shutter speeds, areas with a lot of foot traffic will look empty and lifeless because the moving figures will not be recorded. For areas where there is car traffic, the cars are frozen when using a fast shutter speed or rendered as light trails with a slower shutter speed, as shown in Figures 8-3 and 8-4.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO Using a shutter speed 1/40 second actually froze the traffic into individual cars. Taken at 1/40 second, f/2.8, and ISO 1600.
It is impossible to give you the right settings to use for street photography because the lighting is different every time. It just takes a little experimentation. I suggest that you start on shutter speed priority so that you can decide how to portray the passage of time in the scene. Depending on how much of the scene is lit, the better choices for metering modes are spot metering or center-weighted metering. If the edges of the frame are really dark, using these modes stops the light meter from taking that darkness into account and overexposing the resulting photo.
One way to increase your chances of getting the image you want is to use the auto bracketing feature of your camera. You set the auto bracketing function on your camera so that it takes a series of photos each time you press the shutter button — one with a –1 exposure value, one normal, and one with a +1 exposure value. Bracketing can help you get the image you want. If your camera doesn’t have auto bracketing, you can use the exposure compensation to take a frame that is underexposed by one stop and a frame over exposed by one stop, along with the frame that is properly exposed. It is also a good idea to shoot in RAW mode so that any color correction can be done using as much information as possible.
ABOUT THIS PHOTO Using a shutter speed of 1 second rendered the moving cars as streaks of light. Taken at 1 second, f/5, and ISO 100.
Adobe Photoshop CS6 & Photoshop CS6 Extended
Photoshop CS6 Extended integrates the state-of-the-art editing, compositing, and graphic design capabilities of Adobe Photoshop CS6, and features advanced tools for 3D design, image and video editing.
Photoshop CS6 and Photoshop CS6 Extended can be purchased as stand-alone applications, as components of the Adobe Creative Suite 6 family, or as part of Adobe's new Creative Cloud offering.
Adobe Photoshop CS6, Adobe Photoshop CS6 Extended, Adobe Creative Suite 6 editions and Adobe Creative Cloud can be ordered now. Upgrade pricing is also available to eligible customers.
Download the 30-day Photoshop CS6 free trial.
See our Photoshop CS6 Tutorials Page for a collection of free Photoshop CS6 tutorials and Photoshop CS6 videos.
Adobe Deals & Special Coupon Offers
Visit the Adobe Coupons & Special Offers Page to see the latest deals from Adobe. Find upgrade options at the Adobe Store. Get up to 80% off at the Adobe Education Store. You can also download a free 30 day trial of any Adobe product.
onOne Photoshop Plugins Sale - Plus Exclusive 10% Discount
onOne has launched a big sale that has reduced the prices of every one of their plugins. Visit onOne for full product descriptions. And if you decide to purchase one of their plugins, use our exclusive discount code - PSSPPT06 - for an additional 10% discount. Here's a list of the sale prices (before our 10% discount is applied):
Perfect Photo Suite $299.95 / $149.95 (upgrade)
Perfect Photo Suite 5.5 includes all of the onOne Software products and works with Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture. Five of the products in the Suite even work as stand-alone applications now.
Perfect Resize 7 $199.95 / $69.95 (upgrade)
The next generation of Genuine Fractals is still the industry standard for image enlargement. Works with Photoshop CS5, Lightroom, and Aperture or as a stand-alone application.
Perfect Layers $69.95
Perfect Layers is the fast and easy way to bring a layered workflow to Lightroom and Aperture. Perfect Layers works with Lightroom and Aperture or as a standalone application.
FocalPoint $99.95 / $69.95 (upgrade)
Add realistic depth of field to your images. Works with Photoshop CS5, Lightroom, and Aperture or as a stand-alone application.
PhotoTune $99.95 / $69.95 (upgrade)
Getting great color in your images is not as hard as you think. Works with Photoshop CS5, Lightroom, and Aperture or as a stand-alone application.
Mask Pro 4 $99.95 / $69.95 (upgrade)
For removing unwanted backgrounds, Mask Pro is the Photoshop plugin recommended by Advanced Photoshop magazine. Works as a plug-in for Photoshop.
PhotoTools $99.95 / $69.95 (upgrade)
Instantly give your photos the professional look. Works as a Photoshop plug-in.
PhotoFrame $99.95 / $69.95 (upgrade)
Add the perfect finishing touch to your photos or create an album layout design. Works with Photoshop CS5, Lightroom, and Aperture or as a stand-alone application.
Exclusive 15% Discount On Topaz Plugins, Bundles And Upgrades
Enter our exclusive discount coupon code PHOTOSHOPSUPPORT during the checkout process at Topaz Labs for an instant 15% discount on any Topaz product, including bundles and upgrades.
Topaz Labs Photoshop plug-ins are specifically designed to expand a photographer's creative toolbox by harnessing powerful image technology developments. Photographers everywhere are now taking advantage of the creative exposure effects, artistic simplification, unique edge manipulation, and top-of-the-line noise reduction offered in Topaz products. The Topaz Photoshop Plugins Bundle is a super powerful Photoshop plugins package that includes the following Topaz products:
Deliver stunning and dynamic images with this uniquely powerful plug-in that features HDR-like abilities and enhances exposure, color and detail.
Topaz InFocus uses the latest advancements in image deconvolution technology to restore, refine and sharpen image detail.
A three-level detail adjustment plug-in that specializes in micro-contrast enhancements and sharpening with no artifacts.
The fastest and most effective masking and extraction program with one-click mask refining.
Highest-quality noise reduction plug-in that removes the most noise and color noise while preserving the most image detail.
Provides creative simplification, art effects, and line accentuation for easy one-of-a-kind art.
Take control of the detail depth of your images with extensive smoothing, texture control and edge enhancement tools.
Drastically improves the quality of web images and other compressed photos.
Learn more about the Topaz Photoshop Plugins Bundle. Download a free trial version.
Auto FX 15% Off Special Discount Code For Photoshop Plugins - Coupon Code S94525
Our friends at Auto FX have given us an exclusive special offer discount coupon code S94525 that will give you an instant 15% discount on any and all of their amazing Photoshop plugins and even their special Photoshop Plugin Bundles.
All you have to do is apply coupon code S94525 during the checkout process and you'll have your amount recalculated to include the discount. Below is an overview of their Photoshop Bundle Deal, which the S94525 coupon code will add another 15% discount to. Enjoy!
The Auto FX Plug-in Suite provides a comprehensive selection of visual effects from the world's premier developer of Adobe Photoshop Plug-ins. This suite of products works with Photoshop CS, CS2, CS3, CS4 and CS5. Auto FX Plug-in Suite includes 165 effect filters and thousands of instant effects to improve your images. Purchased separately, the products in this suite are worth over $1,400. By purchasing the Plug-in Suite for $499 you'll save $900.
Special Deals On Nik Software Photoshop Plugins - Viveza, Complete Collection - 15% DISCOUNT COUPONS
Follow the links below and the 15% discount will be AUTOMATICALLY APPLIED to any purchase you make, or use our exclusive discount coupon code - NIKPSS - during the checkout process at Nik Software for the instant 15% discount. This exclusive discount coupon code can be applied to all the latest Nik Software Photoshop plugins, including Silver Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, and The Complete Collection (big savings).
Nik Software The Complete Collection (Plugins Bundle)
The Complete Collection includes all of Nik Software's latest award-winning plug-in software titles for Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture including: Dfine, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, and Sharpener Pro.
The Complete Collection features products with Nik Software's patented U Point® technology, giving photographers the most powerful tools for precise and natural photographic enhancements and corrections without the need for complicated selections or layer masks.
The Complete Collection is offered in two editions: (1) the Complete Collection Ultimate Edition includes support for every plug-in to work in Photoshop, Lightroom, and Aperture, and offers Color Efex Pro 3.0 to work in Capture NX 2 as well. (2) the Complete Collection for Lightroom and Aperture includes support for each plug-in to only work in Lightroom and Aperture. Click here to compare both editions
Color Efex Pro 3.0
52 photographic filters with over 250 effects for professional quality images. Completely Original. Completely Indispensable.
Nik Software Color Efex Pro 3.0 filters are the leading photographic filters for digital photography. The award-winning Color Efex Pro 3.0 filters are widely used by many of today's professional photographers around the world to save time and get professional level results. Whether you choose the Complete Edition, Select Edition, or Standard Edition, you’ll get traditional and stylizing filters that offer virtually endless possibilities to enhance and transform images quickly and easily.
Patented U Point technology provides the ultimate control to selectively apply enhancements without the need for any complicated masks, layers or selections. Control color, light and tonality in your images and create unique enhancements with professional results. With 52 filters and over 250 effects found in Color Efex Pro 3.0, you can perform high quality retouching, color correction, and endless creative enhancements to your photographs. Download a free Trial version.
The most powerful tool to selectively control color and light in photographic images without the need for complicated selections or layer masks.
Two of the most important factors in creating great photography are color and light. Mastering the art of selectively correcting or enhancing each of these is now possible for every photographer without the need for complicated masks or selections, or expert-level knowledge of Photoshop. Integrating award-winning U Point technology, Viveza is the most powerful and precise tool available to control light and color in photographic images.
U Point powered Color Control Points, placed directly on colors or objects in an image (such as sky, skin, grass, etc.), reveal easy-to-use controls that photographers can use to quickly adjust brightness, contrast or color in a fraction of the time needed by other tools. With Viveza you’ll spend more time shooting photographs and save hours of image editing. Download a free Trial version.
Silver Efex Pro
Complete power and control to create professional quality black and white images in one convenient tool.
Silver Efex Pro from Nik Software is the most powerful tool for creating professional quality black and white images from your photographs. For the first time, all the advanced power and control required for professional results have been brought together in one convenient tool.
Featuring Nik Software’s patented U Point technology to selectively control the tonality and contrast of the image, Silver Efex Pro includes advanced imaging algorithms to protect against unwanted artifacts, a comprehensive collection of emulated black and white film types, a variable toning selector for adding traditional toning techniques, over 20 one-click preset styles, and a state-of-the-art grain reproduction engine that help produce the highest quality black and white images possible from your color images while providing more freedom to experiment. Download a free Trial version to use Silver Efex Pro.
HDR Efex Pro
Experience the power, control, and creative expression of HDR. This all in one toolkit lets you achieve your best HDR images ever, ranging from the realistic to artistic.
HDR Efex Pro is the essential new standard for creating amazingly high quality realistic to artistic HDR images with a revolutionary new all-in-one workflow. HDR Efex Pro includes a vast selection of one-click visual presets for incredibly fast results, advanced tone mapping algorithms, powerful and detailed HDR controls, and patented U Point® technology
Follow our discount coupon links, or enter our exclusive discount coupon code - NIKPSS - during the checkout process at Nik Software for the instant 15% discount. This exclusive discount coupon code can be applied to all the latest Nik Software Photoshop plugins, including Silver Efex Pro, Color Efex Pro, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, and The Complete Collection (big savings).
Site Grinder Web Design Tool
There often seems to be a strict division of labor within the world of web design and development. Creative professionals tend to stick to the Photoshop domain, while those well-versed in scripting are left to the task of implementing their work. Indeed, the two realms are quite different from each other, to which any of us even vaguely familiar with either can easily attest.
Essentially, Photoshop is a no-holds-barred design studio, offering the artist a seemingly endless array of creative options. On the other hand, HTML, CSS, Java and the like follow strict rules of engagement, requiring the developer to take any number of esoteric concerns into consideration in order to ensure that designs are properly displayed on the web.
Turn Photoshop Into A Complete Web Design Tool
SiteGrinder seeks to bridge this gap between design and development. Basically, SiteGrinder turns Photoshop into an easy-to-use and fully functional web design tool. With SiteGrinder, designers will now have the freedom to totally let their creativity loose and then, without skipping a beat, transfer their designs to the web. Bringing esthetic concerns together with more practical considerations, SiteGrinder is an amazingly powerful tool that would make a fantastic addition to any web designer's bag of tricks. Mac OS X and Windows versions of the SiteGrinder unlockable demo are available now via download.
WordPress Photoshop Plug-in Creates Wordpress Blogs & Sites
Designers can now create PSD to WordPress Themes in Photoshop with Media Lab's NEW SG3xpress for Wordpress Photoshop plug-in. In addition, Media Lab has released the SG3xpress Add-on for its SiteGrinder 3 for users who wish to add advanced blog and WordPress Theme-building to the already powerful SiteGrinder 3 website creation software.
If you know Photoshop then you already know enough to start creating WordPress themes and blogs for yourself and your clients. Creating a blog or a WordPress site in Photoshop is easy with SG3xpress. Now you can go directly to WordPress with your design saving even more time and money for yourself and your clients.
Free Plugins And Extras For Photographers And Designers - onOne Free Products - Fully Functional, No Expiry Date
onOne is offering some nice free products for photographers and designers. This software is not the same as the demo products they also offer. These free downloads are fully functional and do not expire. Customers who download these products will also receive special promotional pricing from onOne. The free products include the following:
PhotoTools 2.5 Free Edition - Add a professional look to your photos with the PhotoTools 2.5 Free Edition plug-in for Photoshop. Includes 26 professional-grade actions and photographic effects to make your images stand out from the crowd.
PhotoFrame 4.5 Free Edition - Add the perfect finishing touch to your photos with the PhotoFrame 4.5 Free plug-in for Photoshop. Includes 30 professional-grade edges, backgrounds, textures, adornments, and even full-page album layouts. Discover a whole new way to get outstanding results inside of Photoshop.
Perfect Presets for LightRoom - Designed to provide a streamlined workflow and make you more creative, these presets for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom were designed to help you get the most out of Lightroom.
Perfect Presets for Aperture - Designed to provide a streamlined workflow and make you more creative, these presets for Aperture 3 were designed to help you get the most out of Aperture.
Perfect Presets for Camera Raw - Designed to provide a streamlined workflow and make you more creative, these presets for Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) were designed to help you get the most out of your Raw images in Adobe Photoshop.
Free Photoshop Templates - Album templates, layouts, backgrounds and edges to save you time in Photoshop.
Photoshop Masking Plugin Fluid Mask - Exclusive Instant Discount
The 4 1/2 out of 5 star review of Fluid Mask at MacWorld begins by saying that this "Photoshop plug-in takes the pain out of extracting backgrounds," and goes on to recommend the latest version, stating that "Fluid Mask is a very effective tool for separating objects from their backgrounds. It offers a variety of useful features for tackling almost any difficult image, from wispy hair to complex foliage. Online video tutorials and live training sessions help ease the learning curve."
Our friends at Vertus, the makers of Fluid Mask Photoshop Plugin, have set up a special exclusive discount for PhotoshopSupport.com. Go to our Fluid Mask page for a special, exclusive discount link.
Fluid Mask is designed for photographers, image editors, graphic designers and all those who take digital image editing seriously. In a streamlined interface and workflow, Fluid Mask instantly shows key edges in the image and provides comprehensive easy to use tools that work with difficult-to-see edges and tricky areas like trees & lattices. Fluid Mask will also preserve all-important edge information for a professional quality cut out. Go to our Fluid Mask page for more info.
lynda.com Online Training Library - View Free Video Clips
Subscriptions to the lynda.com Online Training Library provide anytime access to tens of thousands of video tutorials covering Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, web design, digital imaging, 3D, digital video, animation, and many other topics. View free video clips.
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