NEX-5: Night skyline.

Started Aug 1, 2010 | Discussions thread
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Tom Hoots
Tom Hoots Veteran Member • Posts: 6,073
NEX-5: Night skyline.

I was at home eating dinner last night, when I heard on the TV news that Portland was having a big "bridge festival" around the Hawthorne bridge -- and I decided this might be a good "safe" opportunity to go take some shots of the skyline, with so many people visiting the area. So, I jumped in my car and headed to Portland.

Unfortunately, most of my results didn't come out very well, like the following two shots:

They may look OK in smaller versions, but if you look at the bigger and the original versions, you'll see that there's a bit of blurring going on. And these were just a couple of the best of (most) of the bunch.

Then, I took a bunch that came out much, much better -- like this one:

I'm pretty satisfied with this one. The previous two were just "examples" for "the rest of the story." Which goes something like this:

Let's set the scene, which was here:

The goldish-colored area in the foreground is a metal grid, which hangs over the river bank. My tripod was set up at the "point" right inside the railing, just a hair to the left of the middle of the picture.

Unfortunately, "all those people" wandered around that platform all the time, which I think just caused too much vibration for my long exposures, and thus most of them came out with a certain amount of blurring. I also made things a bit worse by nailing my ISO down to 200, and, probably worst of all, I extended my tripod's center column as high as it could go, and then I made use of the NEX-5's tilting screen to see what I was doing. As if an extra foot or so of elevation might have helped avoid any perspective distortion. But in the end, there just wasn't enough basic stability to get the job done.

I actually left image stabilization on -- I hoped that it might help deal with the vibrations. Obviously, it didn't.

Notably, my one "good" shot and the overall "area" shot came out just fine -- which is mainly due to the fact that I moved my camera off of that grid, and onto a nice, solid concrete area adjacent to that grid. I took several shots of these two scenes, and all but a couple came out just fine.

So, "next time," I'll keep my tripod's center column all the way down, I'll stay on the concrete instead of that grid, and I might even bump up the ISO a bit, to keep my shutter speeds down a bit. And, I suppose I ought to do some critical review of what I've taken while I'm out shooting, rather than waiting until I get home, like I usually do -- which included this time.

One other thing to mention is that I used the Standard picture mode, though with some substantial adjustments:

Contrast: -3
Saturation: +2
Sharpness: +2

It's the lowered contrast that really helps make the buildings look "lighted" as such -- with the contrast at "zero" or higher, the buildings start heading towards being "silhouettes." Perhaps I could have used contrast at -2, but I definitely think it was good to dial it down substantially.

And, I think this is the kind of shot that screams for "more color," so that's why I bumped up the saturation. The sharpness setting is my "usual" one that I've been using for some time now.

That skyline probably won't go away any time soon -- I will return some time soon, and give it a better shot given what I've learned from my experiences last night. "I'll be back."

Tom Hoots

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