Cities at night

At night, floodlit monuments and city vistas have a special magic (see Figure 18.13). They are transformed from the mundane into a theatre-like spectacle. As with interiors, contrast is your main problem with these photographic subjects. Shooting at dusk is helpful, but sometimes the sparkle and pattern of lights against a solid black sky can really make your picture (see

Figure 18.14 The sparkle of city lights against the dusk sky creates a theatrical and dramatic picture. Shooting the same scene on a moonless night, and at a later time, will produce a series of small pin lights against a predominantly black scene, but photographing at dusk means that there is enough light in the sky and on the water to provide texture, detail and color.

Figure 18.14 The sparkle of city lights against the dusk sky creates a theatrical and dramatic picture. Shooting the same scene on a moonless night, and at a later time, will produce a series of small pin lights against a predominantly black scene, but photographing at dusk means that there is enough light in the sky and on the water to provide texture, detail and color.

Figure 18.15 Athens. An SLR settoAv mode gave 12 seconds atf8. Mixed lighting with domestic lamps in foreground café.
Figure 18.16 Not all of your low light pictures need to be clear, crisp, cast and blur free. Try a range of different shooting techniques when photographing in low light. Even try breaking the 'rules' to see what interesting results you can achieve.

Figures 18.14 and 18.15). Wet streets after rain, reflecting illumination from shop windows and street lamps, will also help reduce contrast. But even so, dark objects still just showing detail to the eye will become silhouettes in photographs when you expose correctly for brightly lit areas. So pick a viewpoint that places interesting and relevant black shapes in the foreground, where they can add depth to the picture.

Advanced compacts and all SLRs can expose correctly for floodlit subjects (typically 1 second at f5.6 on ISO 200 film). Just ensure that you measure illumination from close enough to fill up the frame with the brightly lit surfaces. Note also that film behaves as if it is less sensitive when used for long exposures in dim light. For instance, for exposures of 10 seconds or longer, most color films halve their sensitivity. To compensate for this effect, set your lens aperture to one f-number wider (smaller number) or use the camera's exposure compensation system to override the exposure settings.

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