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New Contributor
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎03-14-2017

Low-light

I'm a novice, so be gentle! I am using a Rebel T3 with a 18-55mm lens. I will be shooting some transportation photos at night along a mostly rural interstate. No time/room for a tripod. Having said all of that, I am looking for advice on camera settings, whether I should use a flash (I use a Speedlite 430EX II) and any other recommendations from the collective wisdom of the community. Thank you!

Respected Contributor
Posts: 1,647
Registered: ‎12-02-2012

Re: Low-light

I am not clear on what you mean by a transportation shot.  Are these moving vehicles?  Are you also in a car or on the ground?  

 

If you want the tail light trails shot, you need a tripod for a long exposure.

Scott

Canon 6D, EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS mk2; EF 16-35 f/2.8 L mk. III; Sigma 35mm f/1.4 "Art" EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro; EF 85mm f/1.8; EF 1.4x extender mk. 3; EF 24-105 f/4 L; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS; 3x Phottix Mitros+ speedlites

Why do so many people say "FER-tographer"? Do they take "fertographs"?
New Contributor
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎03-14-2017

Re: Low-light

Sorry, yes, these are moving vehicles and I expect I will be both on the ground and in a vehicle. This will be an over-dimension load, so also slower moving than normal Interstate traffic.
Reputable Contributor
Posts: 758
Registered: ‎02-06-2013

Re: Low-light

[ Edited ]

DaveTheJHK wrote:
Sorry, yes, these are moving vehicles and I expect I will be both on the ground and in a vehicle. This will be an over-dimension load, so also slower moving than normal Interstate traffic.

You're tackling one of the more challenging aspects of photography in this form...taking pictures of moving objects at night without a tripod...Since you mentioned you are new at this...you might have a hard time getting decent pictures.

 

I still think it's possible but it will require a certain level of skills acquired by practice.

 

If you still have some ambient light to work with, you can try panning the camera - follow the vehicle with your camera, matching its speed perfectly.  Doing it this way, you can get the shutter speed down to as low as 1/30 and still can get good pictures.  I'd shoot in M mode, turn on live view and set Av to smallest value (e.g f/3.5), speed to 1/120 to start with - go lower as skills improve-, and ISO as necessary to get a good exposure.  Turn off live view and start panning.  If you're not familiar with panning try searching youtube and others for instructions.

 

If you are close enough to the vehicle, you can also use your flash to enhance your chance. I'd still try panning but this time with flash since the flash can help freeze the motion.  Mount the flash, turn it on using ETTL and make sure you set the sync mode to Second Curtain.  Again, use camera M mode with the same settings as above except underexpose the picture by 2 stops (you can tell via live view).  The flash will fill in the missing 2 stops of light. This way the flash light helps freeze the motion.  If it doesn't freeze too well, try 3 stops of light...but there will be a point the flash power just won't cut it.  The second curtain makes sure the flash will fire at the end and not the beginning of the shutter duration...depending on the speed of the vehicle, this might make a difference. You can try taking a picture of the moving truck without panning and see how it turns out.   

 

If you are in a moving vehicle, try to photographing other vehicles with the same speed...it will be hit and miss. I'd just try video taping instead of taking pictures.

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Diverhank's photos on Flickr
Honored Contributor
Posts: 7,533
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Low-light

One thing to keep in mind is, all cameras have their limits.  What you are wanting and what a T3 with a kit lens can deliver may not be possible.  Or, what it can do may not be acceptable.  Plus a 430EX flash has a limited range, too.

 

Without seeing exactly how dark and how far plus any other factors no one here can tell you what to use,...exactly.  We can give general low light suggestions.  Like a much faster lens.  Perhaps a ef 50mm f1.8 for instance.  A more powerful flash like the 600 series.

 

In general here are my suggestions.  Buy the ef 50mm f1.8 lens.  They are not expensive.  Set the T3 to Av and try various wide aperture settings.  With the 50mil you will have f1.8 available.  Set the ISO to 800, maybe try 1600, too.  Very important, shoot in RAW mode and use a post editor.  This is going to be about as good as it can be for what you have.  I would avoid using a flash as much as I could.

 

If you can provide more details or a sample I might be able to refine these suggestions.

A lot of Canon stuff. Along with, a lot of other stuff.
Super Contributor
Posts: 129
Registered: ‎01-31-2017

Re: Low-light

[ Edited ]

DaveTheJHK wrote:

I'm a novice, so be gentle! I am using a Rebel T3 with a 18-55mm lens. I will be shooting some transportation photos at night along a mostly rural interstate. No time/room for a tripod...I am looking for advice on camera settings....


OK, I'm going to be honest with you, one novice to another. I think your time and effort will be better spent learning about your camera and learning DSLR photography. What you are trying to shoot will likely be beyond your abilities and those of your camera. 

 

Have you downloaded the PDF version of your camera manual (the Full Instruction Manual, not the Basic manual) and spent some time going through it? Have you bought some books, been spending time in self-study (books, online, or even a class), learning about the exposure triangle, learning how to shoot in Av, Tv, Manual, etc? If not, why not?

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 4,556
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Low-light

[ Edited ]

"In general here are my suggestions.  Buy the ef 50mm f1.8 lens.  They are not expensive."

 

Wow.  Blink-Blink.  Buying the budget priced,"nifty fifty" is good, "best fit" advice for a T3 user.  Mark the calender!

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"I don't rent software. I use Photoshop CS6, ACR 9.8 and Lightroom 6.8 ."
Honored Contributor
Posts: 7,533
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: Low-light

[ Edited ]

"Buying the budget priced,"nifty fifty" is good, "best fit" advice for a T3 user."

 

Only because the ef 50mm f1.2L would look and handle ridiculous on a T3.  Not an endorsement by any means. I wouldn't buy a T3 at all.  Keep your gear equal as possible.

A lot of Canon stuff. Along with, a lot of other stuff.
Highlighted
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 4,556
Registered: ‎08-13-2015

Re: Low-light


DaveTheJHK wrote:

I'm a novice, so be gentle! I am using a Rebel T3 with a 18-55mm lens. I will be shooting some transportation photos at night along a mostly rural interstate. No time/room for a tripod. Having said all of that, I am looking for advice on camera settings, whether I should use a flash (I use a Speedlite 430EX II) and any other recommendations from the collective wisdom of the community. Thank you!


If you need to ask about camera settings, then you really need to heed the above advice about learning to use your gear.  Have you planned to go and do some test shots?  You need to figure out what you need to do ahead of time, and maybe even practice it.

 

I can tell you right now.  Your Rebel T3 does not have a reputation for excellent low light performance, and neither does your 18-55mm camera kit lens.  Not sure what you have in mind with your Speedlite, but do you know what a "guide number" for a flash tells you.  It tells you how far your flash can "reach" at full power.

 

Be careful.  Something about this sounds a little dangerous, to human and camera gear alike.

 

 

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"I don't rent software. I use Photoshop CS6, ACR 9.8 and Lightroom 6.8 ."
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