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Practicing Handheld Low Light Photography Again

narrow-alley-in-lubeck

I went to the inner city today in the evening to try handheld night photography again. I was able to take some cool photos with 1/30 seconds of shutter speed, and the widest aperture of my Nikon 18-105mm kit lens (depending on the focal length either f/5.6 or up to f/3.5) and ISO set to 1600. I thought it’s a great time to go out in the evening and try it again without tripod, mainly because the Christmas market opened and there are so many lights now in the city. My manual settings worked quite well at the Christmas market, but I wanted to increase the difficulty and left the well-lit Christmas market areas.

The difficulty increase was that I had to use an even slower shutter speed now. This resulted in more blurry shots, but I was also surprised that it was in many situations still possible to get good results with even slower shutter speeds. I shot some photos from 18mm to 50mm with 1/2 shutter speed and I did hold the camera steady enough and the resulting photos are not bad. What kind of magic is happening here? Did I just learn to hold my camera steady enough 0.5 seconds? I am really surprised because it worked several times today, and it really allows me to take photos in small alleys with low light. I edited the RAW image, but here is how it looks like without increased levels and exposure…

dark-alley

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5 Comments »

    • It’s easier with the wide angle of that lens but more difficult at the long end. I don’t completely understand the theory yet why that might be the case. I have to tests this more and reading a bit more about the theory. In case I get a used 50mm or 35mm prime lens, the results should even be better if I get the f/1.8 version.

      • I would buy that version if you can. I recall that when we were in London David wanted to take some photos in a shopping arcade in Mayfair. He did not have a tripod so he used the widest aperture he could and had me stand behind him so that he would not be bumped by people passing. The result was a sharp photo of the arcade itself but the people in the photo who were moving were blurred. It was very interesting. I will have to see if I still have that image amongst our slides.

        • That sounds very interesting. I like this type of photography. You can literally play with the time in photography and make things appear freezed or you can see the motion as David did. This is really cool. I’d like to see the photo you mean.

          In the case of my photo in this post, I had my elbow on the left wall, that stabilized me but it would also work with the shoulder. But I also developed some techniques to hold my camera very steady while standing normally.

          I tested several focal lenghts with my kit lens yesterday and while I like 50mm, it’s not the perfect focal length for streets, there I would probably prefer 35mm or even shorter. But as we said many times, we can’t purchase everything at once 😀 I’d like to use 35mm for streets and alleys, but the 50mm more for portraits or photos of objects.

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