View Full Version : Kauai at Night

11-04-2013, 03:23 AM
Delved into night photography this past week in Kauai, Hawaii.
Thanks to Morkel for the focus tip, Diane Miller for the inspiration to do this stuff, and
to Laurie Golden who gave me the info on how to set these up.

30 sec. @ iso4000, Fluorescent WB, f4, 16mm (16-35f4), D800
Wind blows constantly in Hawaii, thus the effect on the palm.

DSC_0402bp.jpg (http://www.birdphotographers.net/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=134304&stc=1&d=1383553297)

Norm Dulak
11-04-2013, 06:23 PM
Hi Dan.

I'm afraid that I really don't understand this and have more questions than cogent suggestions.

Should the image be rotated counterclockwise, to make the horizon horizontal? What is the brown smudge beneath the palm tree? What was the light source that illuminated only the top of the vegetation at the lower right portion of the frame? Did you "paint" it with a flashlight? And why did you use fluorescent WB?

This is fascinating, but I'd really like to know more about it.


11-04-2013, 07:16 PM
Thanks Norm.
The horizon should be leveled a bit. That is fairly large (6 ft) rolling waves coming in from the left and I left it a bit sloped for that reason.
The brown smudges are light clouds and mist (it rains a lot in Kauai), that would blow through.
The light source (too much!) was window light from beach condo's.
I obviously could not get far enough away without being in the surf.
I took some at dark beaches with just the rocks and surf which I might post where the light source was farther away.
I did not have a LED light with me to create my own FG light.

I used Fluorescent WB as a tip from Morkel. You could of course change it in PP, but I just wanted to shoot with it so I
did not have to bother. It gives a much more natural look to the night sky than other WB's surprisingly.
Auto looks orange.

This was my first time and I screwed up a whole first night using Manual focus wrong by focusing on infinity rather
than focusing at the FG. I did not have a light so I would just guess at the distance and set accordingly.
I should also use a leveling tripod as I sort of had to guess as you are shooting in the dark.
Viewing them is mandatory. I thought they looked great on the back of the camera, would go in and load them on
my iPad and see how OOF I was or sometimes there are things like power lines on some land photos I did that
you only see on a large view. I thought I had a bunch of really nice shots in a garden where the power lines ruined them.

It is fun to do and challenging. Hawaii is windy, so you have to use that somewhat, nothing else you can do about it.
Hope this helps, i am just a novice at this.

Roman Kurywczak
11-04-2013, 09:44 PM
Hey Dan,
yeah...serious horizon tilt but I want to offer you a night tip. If you keep the FG at least 20 feet away from you....even at f4 it should be reasonable sharp if you focused correctly. Easiest method is to focus during the day at something 20ft. away or more...check where it is on you infinity scale with either the white or gold mark on your lens (not sure which color Nikon is :( ).....then you could set it to manual focus....and get everything from about 13ft- infinity in focus by setting it on that mark. You could also use your hand to block off some of the ambient light in the field to block off the condo light. Think of it as in camera dodging. Split ND may also work....but perhaps not for full exposure. If you use your hand....keep it very close to the lens. It is fun and good luck in the future!

Norm Dulak
11-05-2013, 09:21 AM
Thanks, Dan.

This is interesting work you are doing! Keep it up, and I look forward to seeing more.


Roger Clark
11-05-2013, 09:40 AM
Hi Dan,

A good first try, and tough in windy Hawaii (I understand the problem; I lived in Hawaii for 7 years).

If you have read my responses in the thread on "Maroon Bells Nightscape" you'll know that I am not a fan of fluorescent white balance for night sky images as it changed the colors to not even close to reality. For example, the Milky Way in your scene is not blue; it is reddish brown. The cloud below the palm tree is lit by local lights, mainly sodium street lights. On the left side of the image, the clouds are dark, but the sky is red indicating source of the color is above the clouds, thus red airglow. You can see fainter bands of red airglow in the center of the image too, which would come out better if the white balance was set to "sunny." A lower ISO would keep more star colors (prevent more bright stars from saturating), then bring up the fainter parts with curves.

The palm tree for me is too cut off. Being bright and blurred from wind, I find it distracting. Remember, most viewers eyes will tend to go to the brightest things. You could try and dodge the palm darker. I also feel the bottom is cut off too much. Do you have any more at the bottom?


Diane Miller
11-05-2013, 02:03 PM
A very nice first try -- I like the blurry palm with warm light against the cooler night sky, and the ghostly light on the breakers. The clouds complicate the viewing experience a little, for me.

I think it wouldn't be difficult to burn down the light on the FG vegetation. Is there any more of the image at the bottom? A little more of it might ground the image better, but probably should be burned down some.

Night photography is a learning challenge, but very rewarding. I love seeing stars in an image where you don't expect them, such as a moonlight image. The hardest part is framing the picture -- I couldn't do it without the LCD review.

Keep at it! Would love to see more.

Rachel Hollander
11-05-2013, 06:02 PM
Dan - I too think it is a nice first attempt. I've played with night shots and learn a little bit more each time I try it. And each time someone posts one on BPN.


Roman Kurywczak
11-05-2013, 09:14 PM
Hey Dan,
didn't realize people didn't know this.....but I have an e-book night guide out for a few years now. You can find it on my site and it will help take some of the difficulty of night photogrpahy...such as what I mentioned and composing.

Diane Miller
11-06-2013, 01:33 PM
I downloaded Roman's e-book quite a while back and highly recommend it.

Lyle Gruby
11-06-2013, 01:51 PM
I have literally no experience with night photography, but I'd love to try it some time. I agree comp wise about the horizon and I too would like to see more of the palm tree. I can't even imagine how hard it would be to focus at night without a pretty strong flash light.

Morkel Erasmus
11-08-2013, 05:08 AM
Sorry for being late here Dan. You've received some good feedback already. I too wish the DOF was better and that there was a more prominent foreground to latch onto. The silky water is nice so making that more of a feature would have been nice.

I can recommend Roman's book as he is very proficient with this kind of shooting and I have learned a lot from him in posting here in the past. I like that you are trying to add this to your bag of tricks, keep practicing and getting out there and coming to grips with the nuances of night photography.

Andrew McLachlan
11-09-2013, 02:16 PM
Hi Dan, I think this a great first attempt. I have yet to try any night photography. Lots of great advice already given above...and I too have Roman's eBook and do recommend it...lots of great info inside it.