Exploring the variety of lighting effects and colours that a night time cityscape shows us was the aim of this exercise. We could use a tripod with cable release (or in these days of wifi, a smart phone) or shoot hand held with a high ISO. I decided to do both. I am lucky that I live in a city that would seem to be designed around showing itself off at night with it’s lighting displays. I chose an appropriate area to shoot that I knew would provide me with enough material to cover the remit. I will comment as necessary on anything of interest through the series. All images were shot in JPEG and are straight from camera.
This first shot displays the city centre just before the sky gets really dark. It still leaves enough light to outline the cityscape that it envelops. The white balance is set to ‘shade’ to warm up the lights from the city. It is surprising just how much light spills from the buildings in to the water as reflections.
Just a few minutes later and the buildings start to fade in to the sky behind them. I have also changed the white to ‘fluorescent’ which I guess would be the ‘correct’ white balance in these circumstances now the natural light has faded. It leaves the image looking very cold and much less romantic than the previous photograph.
The taxi boats and pleasure cruisers leave interesting multi-coloured lights across the bay as I took this on a timed exposure of around 13 seconds. The purple lights on the helix bridge lead the viewer in to the shopping mall beyond.
As we are in the middle of the city interesting things are always happening. Here the bride watches here fiance having his photograph taken while tourists take photos of their own. I like the way the colour of here dress matches the yellow glow around the bridge and beyond in the shopping mall. Top left there is a cloud which is nearly orange in colour. This is not the white balance but the city lights reflecting off a low cloud passing over head. The shot was taken at 0.6secs on a so I had more control over stopping the movement of the people.
This is the inside of the shopping mall that was causing the yellow glow from the outside. Shot under low light conditions and hand-held I used ISO3200 and a shutter speed of 1/60 to capture the scene. There is a noticeable contrast between the bright lights of the shop bottom left which are blown out and the black of the external windows top right. In comparison to the external shots it is extremely dull both in colour and content. The blue/yellow light makes for unappealing viewing.
The Croc shop had a very brightly lit display with green featuring heavily making it quite gaudy. The brightness of the lights means everything else is underexposed around the edges except for the walkway and soffit above which reflect the light. A more careful exposure could have made the figures leaning on the railing silhouettes which I think I would have preferred. There is also quite a nasty blown out highlight on the door entrance.
Taken hand-held, I liked the way the harsh fluorescents pooled the light for the girls to walk through. The light also makes the poles almost shear white at the top (where they are still in the dark), dropping off towards the bottom where the light contrasts with the bright pool of light the it meets. The blue light in the background is a bit of a distraction and this image would work well in black and white to counter that.
I liked the way the blue lights disappeared in to the dark and away from the viewer. I contrasts with the bright lights of the city on the left. This was a hand-held shot in which I exposed for the central building meaning the right hand side fell in to darkness and the left side was exposed for. I waited until the boat crossed the reflection so it would be silhouetted against it. A hand-held shot, I can see the noise appearing from the more mid-tone areas of the image as I pushed the ISO up.
Another long exposure shows the ‘Flyer’ at night. The lights are enticing but if the exposure is too long then the colours just merge in to white as the wheel goes round. Again the clouds in the background reflect the orange city lights.
These columns are lit from the base and then reflect in the glass opposite. Again the night sky adds depth by subtly fading to black in the distance. I had to make sure the far left column was exposed for correctly and didn’t blow out. I was happy for the darker parts of the image to add contrast as a result of this compensation.
The greenish nature of fluorescent lighting seems to add to and lift the detail of the backlit weeds along a pathway.
My last hand-held shot shows the noise that occurs when shooting at a high ISO. The bridge is bathed in a soft purple light as are the people that cross it. The ‘Flyer’ in the background is also coordinated in a purple hue.