Tag Archives: #night photo technique

Irish Rail 217 River Flesk—A Lesson in Night Photography.


The other evening I made a few handheld photos of Irish Rail class 201 diesel number 217 River Fleskat Dublin’s Heuston Station.

217 was working a Mark4 set on the 2100 schedule to Cork.

There are myriad approaches to night photography. In this instance, I worked with my Lumix LX7 without a tripod.

I’m fortunate because I have an unusually steady hand. The Lumix further aids my efforts because it has image stabilization.

I set the camera to ISO 200, and working in ‘A’ (aperture priority) I manually set the lens aperture to its widest opening, which in this case is f1.8. The wider the aperture, the more light passes through the lens to reach the sensor, so having a ‘fast’ lens (one with a small maximum aperture number, such as my f1.8 lens) is a huge benefit.

This set up allowed me work with a 1/10 of second shutter speed, which is adequate speed for a static photograph.

Lumix LX7 photo f1.8 at 1/10th second hand-held, ISO 200, auto white balance. JPG adjusted from a camera RAW file using Lightroom.


Lumix LX7 photo f1.8 at 1/10th second hand-held, auto white balance

If I had been using my FujiFilm XT1 with the kit zoom lens, my widest aperture would have been about f4.5, which is nearly two full stops slower than f1.8, which means at ISO200, I’d require about ½ second exposure to obtain a comparable result, which is too slow for a sharp handheld image in most instances.

Another way of approaching this would be raise the ISO. So with the FujiFilm set up just described, I could increase the ISO setting to 800, which would boost the effective sensitivity of the sensor by two stops (bringing me back up to 1/10thof a second using f4.5). However, this would also boost the noise level and reduce sharpness.

Back in the old days, I would have used Kodachrome, and that would have required a tripod, and probably some filters to colour-correct for the artificial light. Today, digital cameras when set to ‘auto white balance’ do an admirable job of balancing the colour for fluorescent, sodium vapor and other forms of artificial light that tend to tint an image.

Normally for night work with the Lumix, I’d dial in a 1/3 over exposure compensation (+ 1/3 on the exposure compensation dial) however in this situation the relatively bright night sky where low cloud was illuminated by lots of artificial light combined with the silver body of the locomotive and bright platform lighting, obviated the need for boosting the exposure by 1/3 of a stop.

However, I did make some very subtle changes in post processing to help visually separate the roof of the locomotive from the sky.

Tracking the Light Posts Every Day!

Night Photos of a New Orleans Trolley Car—Wide and panned.


The other evening, I made these panned views of a streetcar in New Orleans at night.

I set my FujiFilm XT1 at ISO 3200, the shutter speed dial to ‘A’ and the exposure compensation dial to +1/3 (to compensate for the dark sky). The camera auto-selected my shutter speed based on available light, which was about 1/12thof a second.

To keep the trolley sharp, I panned car as it passed me. I was careful to maintain my pan for the full duration of each exposure and avoid speeding up or stopping as I released the shutter.

I had the shutter release set for ‘CH’ (Continuous High) so the camera continued to expose images as I panned.

I’ve selected the most effective of my burst of images.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Inky Gloom and Artificial Light: Metrolink at Riverside California.

I exposed these views using my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens.

Key to my success was the high ISO setting (ISO 5000) and auto white balance setting that adjusted and balanced myriad artificial light sources.

Lacking a tripod, I positioned and steadied the camera on the half open ‘dutch door’ of private passenger car Silver Splendor as it was paused across from the Metrolink train storage sidings in Riverside, California.

My exposures were about 1/2 second at f2.8 (ISO 5000).

To make the most of the photos, I imported the camera RAW files into Lightroom and adjusted highlights and shadows to make for more pleasing final images.

November 17, 2018, Riverside, California.

November 17, 2018, Riverside, California.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Looking Down on Great Victoria Street, Belfast.

Plans are afoot to redevelop Belfast’s Great Victoria Street Station.

Although NI Railway’s platforms are not an architectural wonder, I’ve been making photos of the present arrangement before it changes.

Belfast Great Victoria Street Station from Durham Street.

Great Victoria Street at dusk 1/5 second at f1.8 ISO250 with Lumix LX7.

Inbound NIR train arriving Great Victoria Street at dusk 1/5 second at f2.0 ISO250 with Lumix LX7.

Great Victoria Street at dusk 1/5 second at f1.7 ISO250 with Lumix LX7.

I made these views with my Lumic LX-7 from the Durham Street bridge which crosses above the platforms.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Heuston Station Pictured at Night using my Lumix.

I often walk by Heuston Station in all hours of day and night. I’ve been photographing this station for almost 20 years.

Despite this, I never let this pioneering railway terminal building escape notice. Just because something is familiar doesn’t mean I’ll ignore it.

Quite the opposite; I’m always looking for a new angle, different light, or some way of capturing this building.

This recent selection of photos was made using my Lumix LX7.

Lumix LX7 in scene mode ‘Night Mode’ allowed for this handheld early morning view with the moon.

LX7 photo.

Heuston Station with a bus.

Vertical view at dusk.

Tracking the Light Posts Daily.

Milan Peter Witt at Dusk.

It was a drizzly dusk two weeks ago (April 2017) when I used my Lumix LX7 to expose this image of a Peter Witt streetcar in Milan, Italy.

With the Lumix set at ISO 200; my exposure was  f1.8 at ¼ (using  ‘A’ mode that allows me to select the aperture, while the camera automatically selects the shutter speed).

To steady the camera, I rested it on a railing conveniently located at the tram stop.

I’m fond of making night shots where there’s still a hint of colour in the sky.

For the next week Tracking the Light will be on Auto Pilot while Brian is traveling.