night photography focus questions

Started Apr 12, 2012 | Discussions
Maraya
Regular MemberPosts: 491
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night photography focus questions
Apr 12, 2012

Recently I have been venturing out at night to capture the Aurora and also the downtown city lights of my hometown.
I have tried on both occasions to get good focus on my 24-70 lens.

on my Aurora capture night I tried to place the focus at infinity but the focus ring keeps moving so in the pitch dark it is very difficult to get a handle on your focus. The same would be true of the shot of downtown where there was a bit more ambient light but I still missed the focus a bit.

I have read in a magazine and on the net to try gaffer tape to set your lens once you have sharp focus at infinity during the day and then you should be good to go at night. I am worried that with the change in temperature especially for the night time Aurora shots that I will be still out of focus with the drop from focus in day time temps to nighttime temps.

Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions? I am hoping to try during the summer for night shots of the city with fireworks from the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede in the background and would like them in focus. In the mean time I want to get a bit better at the night photography techniques as these are my first tries.
Barb

f3.5 48seconds ISO 800

ISO 800 4 seconds f5.6

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dedwards
Forum MemberPosts: 70
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Re: night photography focus questions
In reply to Maraya, Apr 13, 2012

Set your focus using a bright object at the correct distance, then turn autofocus off so it won't hunt. Recompose, etc.

The tape trick, as I've heard it, is just to prevent moving the ring if you happen to bump it while handling the camera.

Nice shots, BTW.

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a1shot
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Re: night photography focus questions
In reply to Maraya, Apr 13, 2012

I go everything Manual - Then use Hyperfocal regime..

Keep a little book of your settings re:- image number..Then you can see what has panned out & what you need to address............
I usually go with a 35 or 50mm 1.4.. It all depends on your requirements..
http://www.dofmaster.com/charts.html
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Bright Angel
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Re: night photography focus questions
In reply to Maraya, Apr 13, 2012

Awesomes

Agreed with focussing on a bright object.

But, if you're in the woods in total darkness, shine a powerful torch/flashlight onto the trees and maybe use "live view" to zoom in and focus on the illuminated area.
Then set the focus to Manual.

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dedwards
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Re: night photography focus questions
In reply to Bright Angel, Apr 13, 2012

Excellent. I've also heard of using a laser pointer, but haven't tried it myself.

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Maraya
Regular MemberPosts: 491
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Re: night photography focus questions
In reply to Maraya, Apr 13, 2012

Dedwards thanks for your suggestions. Somehow standing out there at night watching the giant "Egg Moon" rise I forgot to focus on the bright lights on the top of several buildings. All my daytime experience seemed to leave me.

A1shooter I did use manual and went for the sweet spot in the lens at f5.6 hoping that I could be infocus with the downtown shot just using my old eyes on the buildings. I will know better next time out.

As Bright Angel mentioned out in the mountains/woods it was pitch dark...no moon even luckily so the Aurora was very visible. I have purchased an LED Lenser P7 focus flashlight. I will give it a try to use to focus first on the trees in front of me. I hope we will have another opportunity of clear skies and good Aurora this far south to get some more photos of all the colours. I was quite overcome with the beauty as we were standing there as it was my first time seeing such a display...I stood there mouth open, oblivious of the cold, mesmerized...and forgetting to click the shutter. Next time hopefully I will get more than 3 usable shots with trees in focus.

Thanks all for your replies
Barb
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Jose Rocha
Contributing MemberPosts: 914Gear list
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Re: night photography focus questions
In reply to Maraya, Apr 16, 2012

Just use Live View if your camera has it, look for a bright star and zoom in. Move the focus ring until the star is a mere point of light. I do astrophotography at times and it works.

http://500px.com/joserocha81

 Jose Rocha's gear list:Jose Rocha's gear list
Nikon D700 Sony Alpha NEX-3N Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II +4 more
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