Three of the four dSLRs we have recently went to Canon Customer Service for cleaning, one after the other. Speedy had tested the EOS 350D and the EOS40D several times under different lighting conditions; I had yet to test mine thoroughly almost a week after I got it back.
On Friday evening, a little before 10 o’clock, after a delicious dinner that I really labored over, I joined Speedy in the garden for some nocturnal photography.
The sky was blue at 10 o’clock? Surely, it was dark?
The photo above was taken at exactly 9.44 p.m. According to my vision, yes, the sky was dark when I took it. But with an aperture setting of f/4.0, ISO value of 800 and a shutter speed setting of 10.0, the sky appeared blue. NO PHOTOSHOP TRICKS.
I’m no astrophysicist and I sure as hell can’t explain that from an astronomical point of view (you may want to read about Olbers’ paradox here and here) but I know it has to do with the amount of light that enters the lens. The human eye is a lens but it can’t be adjusted with a few turns and clicks. The camera, on the other hand, can be adjusted so that it allows more or less light to pass through the lens.
And just how does one get nice photos of the moon? These photos were resized but not manipulated. Those rays? Those are not Photoshop effects. You get that with the proper aperture and shutter speed settings. And by talking to the moon, the clouds and the wind.
Unlike studio photography where everything can be controlled, that is hardly possible oudoors. Wind affects photos. The speed at which the clouds travel, for instance. When the wind is strong, and it has been close to howling all of last week, just when you have the moon perfectly framed, wisps of clouds would hover in front of it and the shot is affected. So, you wait and press the button at just the right time.
Leaves too. If the leaves were moving, at that extremely low light setting, chances of blurring are high.
So, you know, you sort of talk to them all — moon, clouds, wind… You kinda try to cajole them to cooperate for just a few minutes until you can get a few nice shots.
As for human subjects who prefer to be behind the lens rather than in front of it, well… stealth is a great strategy. You set up the shot without talking and with no sudden movements. You zoom in, press the button and you hold your breath until you hear the click of the shutter closing, hoping that your subject does not move an inch. I managed to take two shots of Sam until she noticed and drew the door curtain.
All photos were taken with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and a 17-40mm lens.