Shooting New York City at night in 30 minutes

I shot all images in that album while walking back from a +Rick Sammon workshop at the Explorer's Club to Grand Central Terminal within 30 minutes. All pictures were shot handhold and using fairly slow lenses - the Canon 24-105 f/4 and the Canon 16-35 f/2.8 - I probably shouldn't call an f/2.8 a slow lens, I know...

The weather was absolutely fantastic as it stopped raining just a few minutes after I left the Explorer's club giving me awesome, wet reflective roads.

I was using poles and dumpsters as tripods and all are single exposures = no HDR.

Check the original post over at Google+ for more pictures.

If you don't have a Google+ invite yet, drop me a comment and I'll get you one.

30 minutes of NYC at night

Golden Alley in Blue Hour

This picture would not have been possible without HDR. The road was heavily lit by the street lamps while everything else was almost pitch dark. You can even see the stars in the sky.

Exif Info:

  • Date Taken: 2011-07-04 22:21:22

  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II

  • Exposure Time: 8 exposures between 1/8 and 30 seconds

  • Aperture: f/4

  • ISO: 400

  • Focal Length: 24mm


How to motion-blur

Shooting at night with a fast lens is so much fun. I took this photograph with the same lens I talked about yesterday - the Canon 24mm f/1.4.

I didn't have the tripod with me that night but I wanted to get a slight motion blur of the passing train. The rule of thumb I apply for motion blur is to shoot with the same shutter-speed than the moving subject is passing by in mph...hmmm - I hope you are very confused now because I would be. Here is what I mean:

I your subject moves with a speed of 20mph, you shoot it with a shutter-speed of 1/20th. You obviously need to guess the speed if you do not have a radar gun with you but that shouldn't be too hard. The train in the photograph was not driving by in full-speed but was rather breaking to stop at the station.

Exif Info:

  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II

  • Exposure Time: 0.05s (1/20)

  • Aperture: f/2

  • ISO: 3200

  • Focal Length: 24mm

The Dumpster Pod

You should always carry a tripod when shooting night-scenes like the one below. Well, let's be realistic, carrying a heavy, sturdy tripod while walking through a city like New York sucks but luckily there are some "natural" tripods available (almost) wherever you go.

I was using some dumpsters to keep my camera steady - you can see parts of them in the lower left corner (shouldn't tell you that, I know).
It's not the perfect solution but for a 1/2 second exposure like this it was quite convenient. Alternatively, I could have used a higher ISO instead to shorten the shutter speed but I wanted the motion blur and light-trails of the passing cars in the frame.

Exif Info:

  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II

  • Exposure Time: 0.5s (1/2)

  • Aperture: f/4

  • ISO: 100

  • Focal Length: 24mm


The Dumpsterpod