Al Dixon Photography

Our World. Our Heritage. My Passion.

Filtering by Tag: night

Auroral Light Show

Like most anybody with a camera, last night found me standing in the dark with my lens gazing skyward.  With the solar winds whipping up a frenzy of activity overhead, there was plenty to photograph.  While keeping an eye on the auroral forecast, I scrolled through my mental database of potential shooting locations.


While the 'lights' were definitely impressive, the best part of the evening was getting to share the shoot with my daughter.  Never having seen them before, she was excited to have the chance to shoot them as well.  Knowing full well that she was going to be facing a tough day at school, she chose to join 'Pops' for the show.


With the location chosen and all the gear triple checked, we set off hoping for a great show.  We did not have to wait long after our arrival for the show to begin.  It wasn't long until I could see the excitement on my daughters face in the glow of the LCD screen as she reviewed her images.


After a couple of hours, and a few hundred shots between us, it was time to head for home.  I'm pretty sure that I won't have any problem convincing her to head out in the dark to capture the Northern Lights again.


I am frequently asked how to shoot the Northern Lights, so here are my recommendations.  First off, YOU MUST HAVE A TRIPOD!!!  This is NOT an option!!!  You will also want a fast, wide angle lens and shoot with it wide open.  I set the camera to manual mode with a shutter speed of between 6 - 10 seconds MAXIMUM.  Anything longer than that will typically result in just a big green blob in the sky.  I then adjust my ISO to achieve the desired exposure.  Once that's set, enjoy the show and keep on clicking!!


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Things That Go Bump in the Night

One of my favorite times to shoot is late at night.  Yeah, I know... how the heck do you shoot in the dark??  If I had a nickel for every time I was asked that question, I could likely afford a Timmie's or two.  Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, night shooting is quite common and not as hard as it looks.  Oops!!  I think I just let the cat out of the bag!! 

Looking across the wading pond in front of City Hall towards Churchill Square.

With the dramatic results that one can achieve, I think it's something that all photo enthusiasts should try.  The major essentials for night shooting are a tripod and a good working knowledge of exposure and how to control it on your camera.  If you have that, all it takes is some experimenting and you may surprise yourself.  Don't be afraid of the dark... that bump in the night is likely just me tripping over my bag in the dark. :)

City Hall lit up at night.

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After shooting everyday, and sometimes several times a day, while at NSI; I was suffering from a serious case of shooting withdrawl this weekend.  The cure was, of course, to go out shooting and a night shoot at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton seemd like a good idea.  With the light show, it is a very popular setting for night shooting.

With the Legislature Building celebrating its 100 anniversary this year, there are additional decorations and banners on display.

While at NSI this past week, I learned of an in-camera technique that can produce a rather artistic result.  The best part of this technique is that it's only available on select Nikon models.  I guess this is where I could give a "pthhhhh" to all the Canon shooters, but I'll try to be a little more mature than that!!  The technique involves shooting multiple images, slightly varying each images, and allowing the camera to combine them into a single image.  The following image was produced by (5) seperate shots and zooming slightly between each shot. Other than cropping and converting for use on the web, there was no post processing done in the computer.

The following image was produced by using a 3 second shutter release and zooming the lens while the shutter was open.  Other than cropping and converting for use on the web, there was no post processing done in the computer.

It was good to get out shooting again and try out some new techniques that will definitely be tucked away in my camera bag.

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Gettin' down with Niagara Falls

On Monday we managed to fit in 2 trips to Niagara Falls.  The first trip was mid morning and gave us ample opportunity to see this grand ol' dame in all of her natural splendor.  The crowds, which seemed great at the time, were actually not that bad and afforded us the opportunity to photograph from many different vanatge points.


Our second trip of the day came after night fall, and this once majestic creature was more than ready for the night life.  With a coat of brightly colored make-up, courtesy of numerous high powered spot lights, she was definitely ready to party. 

The crowds, now far larger than in the morning, were most definitely ready to party right along side her.  Finding a spot along the rail to shoot was definitely a challenge and not surrendered easily.  It just goes to show that you can't judge a book by its cover... who knew that this majestic old lady liked to "get down" once the sun goes down.

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Graveyard at Midnight

So once again I found myself out until the wee hours of the morning last night shooting.  My daughter and my fellow shooter Roy ( joined me to shoot the night sky.  After scouting several locations, we finally settled on the one with the fewest mosquitos.  It didn't hurt either that it was perched on the top of a hill with a church and a cemetery.  As the night wore on, we found ourselves using these features in our shots.


The key to shooting at night is long shutter releases.  In the case of the shot above, it was over 23 minutes!!  Now, while your camera is sitting there collecting the little bits of ambiant light for that long; you have a great deal of time to ponder things while standing in a cemetery in the dark.  Things such as:  what was that sound... what is that strange light... why do I feel a sudden chill?? 

It was a great night of shooting capped off with a meteor shower and plenty of satelites passing over head, and my daughter can now tell all her friends about the night her dad took her to a graveyard at midnight.

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