Christmas Lights Roadside

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Christmas Lights Roadside

Postby Russ Emmons » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:35 pm

OK--here's a good question for someone. What settings recommend for roadside Holiday lights on houses. Baffling to me as all settings I try seems about the same. Put it on M trying various settings seems about the best. Set camera on solid fence post. Too dark walking road to use tripod and can't see the buttons /dials on the camera anyhow :S Using a Kodak 26X zoom, 26mm-676mm equiv.--Not a SLR but this camera like others has way too many buttons, dials, settings, other useless features which are WAY overkill for me IMO :C
I think I should just get a video-cam--people seem to have easy good results with those--?

Russ Emmons
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Re: Christmas Lights Roadside

Postby res » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:17 pm

Oh man. You know how to create a challenge. There are couple of variables you will need to consider. First, if the Christmas lights are the only lights, it gets a lot easier to a point. I would pick an fstop to give good depth of field, then set the shutter to allow the Christmas lights to be almost blown out allowing the ambient light from the lights to provide some "mood lighting" on the surroundings. With your camera, if shooting in the wide angle area, F8 should work reasonable. Shutter will depend on just how bright the lights are. I would take a shot around 1 second. If it is dark, you will need to increase the exposure time to get the right lighting. IF you have street lights along with the Christmas lights, that gets really tough. The street lights are going to really cause issues in the lighting. They are far more powerful then the Christmas lights so they are going to dominate no matter what you do. I will try and get some time in the next few days and see if I can do some test rounds and see what I get. Great question.
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Re: Christmas Lights Roadside

Postby Duane Wilcox » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:24 pm

Russ, The best time I have found is just before dusk. Still light enough for house and yard to bee seen, yet lights show up well.
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Re: Christmas Lights Roadside

Postby Russ Emmons » Wed Dec 05, 2012 4:27 am

My neighbors across the road aways. This is the best I could do tonight :? at ISO 400, f6.3, 1/15; -0.7
Yes rural area, no street lights but I would like to do this in town as there are some exceptional displays around in or out of town. Most of my photo ops would be from the car roadside.

Russ Emmons
Attachments
Dec. 04, 12 010.jpg
Neighbors Holiday lights
Dec. 04, 12 010.jpg (37.88 KiB) Viewed 1455 times
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Re: Christmas Lights Roadside

Postby res » Sun Dec 23, 2012 11:19 pm

Sorry for the delay Russ. Life has been a rat race recently and I just got out to try a few shots and get some settings for you. I went into Cadillac and they have a train that is part of a city park. The train was part of the lumbering times from years gone by. For the record, I shot this with a tripod and long shutter. I was shooting close so was using a wide angle lens and was trying to protect my depth of field so also shot a higher Fstop to accomplish that.

21mm focal length
F10
2 seconds shutter
ISO 200
_MG_8276.jpg
_MG_8276.jpg (87.22 KiB) Viewed 1398 times


Since you were trying to take pictures "on the fly" I looked for a house with some reasonable lights to shoot and see what I could come up with. The biggest thing to remember, cameras settings are always a balance. The lower ISO numbers give some what cleaner images on average but they require a lot of light. To shoot we need a minimum shutter speed to keep camera shake to a minimum. That means for most people with a camera that has a form of anti-vibration programing you will need at least 1/30 shutter speed to even start hoping to not blur the shots. That said, I took a few shots that came out reasonable from the road, with a quick stop and shoot out the window only.

80mm focal length
F3.2
1/60 Shutter speed
ISO 2000
_MG_8291.jpg
_MG_8291.jpg (42.53 KiB) Viewed 1398 times


This one was shot right off the side of the street using my wide angle zoom.

40mm focal length
F4
1/60 Shutter speed
ISO3200
_MG_8292.jpg
_MG_8292.jpg (53.02 KiB) Viewed 1398 times


I was shooting with a DSLR. The 80mm was shot with a 70-200 and it is a LARGE lens with vibration reduction. (second picture) It was braced on the window of the car from inside. The third shot was completely hand held with a wide angle lens that had NO vibration control. Now a point and shoot may not be able to give you quite the settings I used but they do give a base line to work with. Now, if your lens will not get down to an f4 like this picture, you will need to compensate by raising ISO even higher or lowering shutter speed to allow the same light into a smaller (larger numbered) fstop setting. As you can see, I shot with a 1/60 shutter speed. If your lens is a 5.6 minimum, you might try shooting at the 3200 ISO but shoot at 1/30 of a second if the camera has vibration control built in. IF you look at your picture that you posted, I pulled some of the camera information from it. Your settings were:


Exposure Time = 1/15"
F Number = F6.3
Exposure Program = Manual
ISO Speed Ratings = 1600
Focal Length = 35.1mm

I do not know if your camera will handle ISO 3200 (lets in double the light as the 1600 setting) or if you can drop your fstop back to 5.6 and bump your shutter to 1/30th but if possible, that may give you a cleaner shot with better edges. The problem you are facing is that most lights on houses only put out a very small amount of light. Adding more daylight MAY cause the lights to be less bright looking. It all depends on the look you are trying to capture. Since full darkness is where the lights show their strongest, that is the direction I took. Our eyeballs attached to our brains work in combination to bring in light and provide balance and details through I think it is 6 or 7 shade levels of light. The camera can reproduce about 4. ;) So what we see can not be recorded perfectly by any camera. In good light, the difference between our eyesight and what the camera records is so close that we do not notice many of the differences. BUT, take pictures in dark environments, that is always a challenge. IF there is a possibility, shooting from a tripod opens more possibilities then hand holding. Pretty sure I am preaching to the choir but for the benefit of all reading, I am just covering the bases. If I can be of more help, let me know.
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