Night Light

ISO 100, 35mm, f/8.0, 4 sec

ISO 100, 35mm, f/8.0, 4 sec

Week 6 (9/8/2013 – 9/14/2013): Shipyard Marina, Hoboken NJ
Picture Taken on 9/9/2013 9:11PM

Picture Description

Going into this week my goal was to create a multiple exposure photograph or light trail night picture.  As a possible secondary option I bookmarked the possibility of photographing the freedom tower.  On Monday night I went out around 6ish to mess around with my new Nikon ML-L3 remote.  I was aiming for either a double/triple exposure of the Hoboken ferry or some kind of sunset shot.   After messing around for about an hour I went back to my apartment to eat some dinner, review my pictures, and wait until the sun was totally down so I could try for a night picture.  Unfortunately after reviewing the pictures on my computer none of them worked out as I planned so I was going to have to go back out for the night shot.

After dinner as I stepped outside of my apartment my eyes were instantly drawn to the distant southeastern skyline.   What I was looking at was simply amazing, the 9/11 memorial lights were getting trapped in some low thick clouds and forming this surreal spherical glow.  All of my other night picture plans went out the window at that point, I had to take a picture of this unique occurrence.

After taking the picture I thought it was good (not great) but didn’t want to use it as my picture for this week.  As I do with most unused pictures I posted it up on Facebook to share with my friends.  To my surprise this picture got more activity than any other one I’ve posted.  Coming up with a picture to top this one, at least this week would have been hard so in the end I decided to use this picture.

 Photography Concepts 

To get this picture I had to apply many of the tricks I’ve learned over the past couple of months. In some of my previous long exposure pictures I noticed a slight camera shake.  To prevent getting shaky images I’ve moved towards using either a 2 second delayed shutter release or in this case a remote.  Next I regularly use a UV filter on all my camera lens to prevent any wear and tear.  Over time I noticed that at night using a filter increases the amount of light distortion and bleed, so prior to this picture I removed the UV filter.  The last two keys to this photo, which I’ll talk about in a little more detail, are the exposure settings I used and editing in Lightroom.

The exposure I used was -2 (stops) which for anyone that doesn’t know, it’s an underexposure.  The reason I underexposed was because after taking other nighttime city shot I’ve noticed that with so many lights from all the buildings my pictures tend to get overexposed.  There are lots of negatives with overexposing, in terms of my city pictures the most noticeable is the change in the sky color.  After messing around with different exposures I’ve settled on -2 for my go to exposure setting.

Now it’s hard to describe all the different tweaking I did in Lightroom but one of the main fixes was the white balance setting.  I forgot my white balance cards when I went out to shoot this picture so I had to do it after the fact.  I also made some moderate adjustments to the Highlights, shadows, whites, blacks and clarity to get the picture to look like what I saw in person.  If you want to learn about Lightroom I highly recommend going on youtube and watching some tutorial videos.  There is so much information out there to support learning photography (and most other hobbies) it’s just about finding it.

Before and After Editing in Lightroom

Before and After Editing in Lightroom

Since I originally did not want to use this picture let me quickly explain why and what I could have done better.  For starters if I remembered my white balance cards I would not of had to do so much editing in Lightroom.  I rather get a good picture in camera rather than edit it especially for this photoblog. I also wasn’t happy about my composition, the green in the picture is really nice but I was made I cut off some of the left side of the peninsula that is shipyard park.  I wish that I would have stepped back another 30-50 ft to get more into the picture.  Last I wish I found something interesting to put into the foreground of the picture, it just makes for a more interesting picture.

Article about Exposure

Lightroom Video’s

Never Forget

ISO 160, 35mm, f/ 2.5, 1/500 sec

ISO 160, 35mm, f/ 2.5, 1/500 sec

Week 5 (9/1/2013 – 9/7/2013): 9/11 Memorial, New York City, NY
Picture taken on 9/5/2013 at 5:44 PM

Picture Description

In a less than a week 12 years will have passed since September 11th, 2001 and prior to this week I never visited the hallowed ground that was the location of the World Trade Center towers.  I have wanted to pay my respects by visiting the grounds for some time now and this week I finally made the time to visit the 9/11 memorial.

As expected prior to entering the memorial you’re paraded through an array of security screenings and lots of twisting alley ways.  When you finally get into the memorial area it’s a surreal feeling especially when you think about the significance of the ground you’re now standing on.  So much that has happened over the past 10+ years has been a result of what happened there on that fateful day.  The events of 9/11 will forever remain in the forefront of my mind.  As with most Americans, especially those that live in the New York area, I can vividly replay much of the day in my mind as if it was only yesterday.  I was fortunate to not lose any loved ones through the tragic events and it’s hard for me to even fathom what those that did had to go through, and still do.  As I walked around I tried to do so respectfully since I’m sure among the crowd there were at least a few visitors that had lost someone.   The reflecting pools are both architecturally beautiful and symbolically somber.  The pools each take up about an acre of space and the perimeter of each pool is lined with the names of those that lost their lives.  The relationship you can draw between the magnitude of the pools and encircling list of names is powerful and very sobering.   While walking around you randomly come upon names with flowers, flags and other items placed or wedged into the cracks of letters.   I don’t know how often flowers and such are removed but my guess is that the presence of one means someone placed it there that day or very recently.  During my walk around the North pool I noticed that someone had placed a flower on a loved one’s name just below the World Trade Center heading.  I thought the flower with the reflection pool backdrop would make for a meaningful picture.


I hope after reading this you too go visit the memorial to pay your respects and experience this all for yourself.  I’d also like to say if anyone is reading this and lost a loved one, you have my deepest condolences.

Photography Concepts 

This picture was very straight forward, unlike last week nothing was moving so I just line everything up and fired away.  As I take more and more pictures I’m beginning to learn what the ideal settings are for specific ‘looks’.  This picture for example, I wanted to emphasize the flower, names and obviously “World Trade Center.”  If you read my first blog you might be able to guess one of the settings I used to get the blurred background.  If you said wide aperture, you were correct!  I used an aperture of f/2.2 to blur out the reflecting pool.  The second and main part in capturing this picture was utilizing my camera’s focus points.  I used a single point auto-focus to mainly to make sure “World Trade Center” was properly focused but oddly enough there is more effected with using focus points than just ‘focus’ so that’s what I’m going to talk about.

Nikon D5200 Focus Points - Taken from below Nikon Website

Nikon D5200 Focus Points – Taken from below Nikon Website

When it comes to “auto-focus” my Nikon D5200 has 4 different focusing modes but for now I’ll just talk about the one I used. I used single point auto-focusing for this picture which is what I use for most of my pictures. For anyone that doesn’t have a DSLR you might be unfamiliar with the term focus points.  They’re exactly what you’d think they are, selectable focus areas I see when looking through the lens.  Similar to what you see on standard camera’s or camera phones, however on my camera they’re not totally free moving.  For example, on most camera phones you pretty much touch anywhere on the screen and it uses that as the main focus point.  On a camera such as mine I’m limited to 39 focus points.  The really high end DSLR cameras (e.g. Nikon D4 – 51 focus points, Canon EOS 5D Mark III – 61 focus points) have more but I’m yet to run into any issues using 39.  Beyond focusing, by manually selecting the exact focus point I’m able to have more control over my camera’s exposure. One scenario where how the camera sets exposure comes into play is when you’re dealing with multiple light sources such as natural/unnatural light in one photo.  I’ve noticed that finding the best medium exposure matters most when you’re trying to incorporate the sky into a photo.  A lot of times if you set your exposure off an object the sky gets over exposed meanwhile if you set it off the sky your object (subject) gets under exposed.  Finding the middle ground in terms of exposure can be hard and is somewhat fixable after the fact but pictures come out way better if you do the right exposure in camera.  What I usually do is try to set my focus point somewhere close to both my subject and the sky to obtain the best exposure.  The problem with not selecting your actual subject is you have to use a smaller aperture to make sure more of the image (such as your subject) is in focus and not blurred out.  Since I wanted a blurred background in my photo I had to go with the wider aperture so when I put my focus point on the World Trade Center it ended up over exposing the background a little.  Nothing I wasn’t able to fix in LightRoom but it’s something you have to keep in mind.  If you over expose too much the detail of a picture isn’t always recoverable.  To have more flexibility lately I’ve been shooting in RAW form or in Nikon terms .NEF files.  Based on everything I’ve watched/read shooting in RAW verses JPEG retains more of the pictures editable attributes.  No matter what camera you have, one with RAW mode, 1 or 51 Focus points, when used correctly focus points can greatly help set the right exposure for you picture.

Nikon D5200 Single Focus Point - Taken from below Nikon Website

Nikon D5200 Single Focus Point – Taken from below Nikon Website

Nikon D5200 Article source for two pictures: