Low light Christmas in the city
I had intended to start playing around with low-light photography earlier in the year, but other diversions arrived around April and May, so the idea had to be shelved (flitting about at odd late hours is not the option it used to be.) Although I started, I discovered that this needs the right camera/sensor, and surprisingly, techniques that worked fine for film cameras don’t transfer simply to digital. In fact, I think my past mastery of low-light pics using film led to more problems than would have been encountered had I been starting with digital. I used to be able to produce pics in the dark with just about anything (main problem was colour, due to the poison of yellow sodium street lighting pouring all over everything, unless I shot B&W. But when I tried digital… Well, let’s say things did not go well. And since I was working with preconceived ideas, it took a while before I worked out all the things I was doing wrong.
Still finding odd things that work contrary to old intuition, but as I ‘unlearn’ old ideas and the tricks that can be played with digital cameras start to show themselves in results, I can at least produce results. And more importantly, can do most of them hand-held, without a tripod or similar making my presence obvious. That said, I’ve also learned when a tripod is needed, and the vast difference it can make to the result.
While I can look at the originals of the shots below, and kick myself for the mistakes I can see in them, what I’m getting now is no longer an embarrassment that I’m ashamed to let be seen in public.
Started off with the mausoleum on George Square, and the former Post Office (now flats) building behind:
Next, caught the Christmas tree and some of the rides belonging to the fair installed on the square:
Last was the biggest ride on the square, which provided a variety of shots. This turned out to be the hardest to get what I wanted, as I was still aiming for hand-held shots and wanted trails from the moving lights. The problem was with some earlier setting I had made, which meant that the camera wanted to over-ride my demands for a slow shutter, because it wanted faster settings, to avoid shake. Bigger problem was me – forgetting which daft menu this particular option was buried in. However, I managed to get what I wanted, even if I had to argue with the programming.
Technically, this turned out to be the most interesting when I eventually saw the pics, as it shows that the builders of fairground ride have discovered LEDs. I wasn’t sure looking from a distance, but the strobe effect that can be seen on the lights below means that they are multiplexed, rather than being on continuously, as they were in the days of incandescent lamps. I was fairly sure they were LEDs, due to the colours and how they changed, but couldn’t get close enough to confirm this just by looking.
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