In one of the last test of my camera I would like to share with you the night photography possibilities in this tool.

Night photography is very important especially during the time, when you are on some trip or you are facing some curious situation (e.g. weather, sport, etc), which is difficult to capture because of low light. Taking photo during the night is also very interesting and may provide you something like “the game of lights”. When you will set some high ISO parameters, long exposure and HDR also you will see many lights, which comes from quite remote places.

  1. D5300 night photography programmes & effects

The D5300 offers mainly 4 basic programmes & effects allowes you to take pictures by night:

  • Night portrait – allowes you to keep strong details in conjunction with flash and low light beyond,
  • Night landscape – gives you many options to take photos by night. I used to use this option especially in the bright and fully-lited places, where exposure isn’t so long. The camera sets the ISO sensivity and exposure automatically in order to the situation (light pollution). Have it mind, that if you will use this function somewhere outside the urban area, where places are quite dark you may not receive a sharp photos without tripod or some stable place!
  • High Key effect – is absolutely right to use in the dark conditions. The ISO sensitivity and exposure time are sets automatically, but ISO sensitivity is much higher than normally The exposure time for a place in the same conditions is a little bit longer too. In effect you will see your photo much brighter and quite clear. The D5300 won’t set your ISO more than you need in this moment. The camera will set max. ISO 10000 during the gazing stars conditions only. Hovewer this effect is the most useful with bright scenes to create bright images that seem filled with light.
  • Low key effect – may be use with dark scenes to create dark images with prominent highlights. The camera sets automatically lower ISO and shorter exposure time than normally. The built-in flash is turned off.
  • Night vision effect – is able to record monochrome images with high ISO during the night conditions. You have to bear in mind, that pictures may be affected by noise in the form of randomly-spaced bright pixels, fog or lines.

See the pictures below (Pic.1,2,3) to compare all of those effects.

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Pic.1 D5300 night landscape scene example. St Mary the Virgin;s church, Aylesbury.
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Pic.2 The same place in D5300 night modes: 1 – night landscape, 2 – high key, 3 – night vision. Krosno, Odrzykońska street, Poland.
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Pic.3 The same place in D5300 night modes with low key effect: 1 – night landscape, 2 – high key, 3 – low key, 4 – night vision. Krosno, Odrzykońska street, Poland.

     2. ISO sensitivity & exposure time

The ISO setting adjust the D5300’s sensitivity to light. Basically you can change the ISO value from 100 up to 12800 and also extend to 25600. A higher ISO enables you to use a faster shutter speed or a smaller aperture (higher f-stop number), because less light is needed to expose the image. Unfortunately you must be aware, that higher ISO also increases the possibility of noise. In the D5300 case this problem isn’t big. As you can see in the picture below (Pic.4) the possibility of noise starts from more than 3200, thereby you are absolutely able to make a amazing photos during the night even in the dark areas.

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Pic.4 D5300 ISO sensitivity example in order to noisy (fotoblogia.pl).

Neverthelles when you are aim at astrophotography remember, that best ISO starts from 3200 (I am taking into account at least 15sec exposure) and you may experience some noises.

The time exposure in D5300 has a range from 1/4000 sec to 30sec. You can use the bulb mode also.

See the pictures below. There are simple examples of D5300 ISO sensitivity (Pic. 5 – 12).

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Pic.5 Krosno, Odrzykońska street, Poland. ISO 3200, 6s.
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Pic.6 Krosno – Turaszówka oil field. ISO 320, 10s.
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Pic.7 ISO 12800, 30s.Waning gibbous light.
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Pic.8 ISO 3200, 2/3 sec. Snowy night close to urban area, low clouds and fresh snow reflects the light perfectly.
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Pic.9 ISO 3200, 3s. Snowy night photo looks like daylight image created in the sepia effect. You can change the white balance and set the colours on your own.
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Pic. 10 Odrzykoń, Łęgowa street, view towards lighted Krosno’s landfield around 2,5km ahead. ISO 2500, 30s, f.5/6 (55mm).
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Pic.11 Odrzykoń, Łęgowa street, view on the glow above Krosno. ISO 3200, 30s.
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Pic.12 Odrzykoń, ul. Nadbrzeżna street, view towards Sucha Góra TV tower (red spot beyond). ISO 3200, 30s.

Now look in the photos below for the elements, which are very important during the night photography. When you are doing photos with long time exposure and with high ISO then every light is clear visible. You can witness the white sky effect also!

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Pic.13 Moonlight and its dissipation in the room. ISO 12800, 30s.
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Pic.14 Odrzykoń, Łęgowa street (red arrows indicates the white sky effect). ISO > 12800, 30s.

I would like to show you also live examples with D5300 ISO sensitivity. Once, when I was walking in the city I could prepare a good photo sequence with various ISO in conjunction with various exposure time also. See the first effect below (Pic.15,16), where those parameters wasn’t keep in the same level. Eventually every next picture was a little bit darker.

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Pic.15 One place captured in different ISO and time exposure effects, but not in the same level: 1 – ISO 1600, 3s; 2 – ISO 2500, 2,5s; 3 – ISO 3200, 3s; 4 – ISO 4000, 1,33s; 5 – ISO 5000, 1s; 6 – ISO 6400, 1/2s; 7 – ISO 8000, 1/4s; 8 – ISO 1000, 1/8s; 9 – ISO 12800, 1/10s; 10 – ISO ?12800 1/13s. Sadgwick Museum of earth sciences, Cambridge.
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Pic.16 One place captured in different ISO and time exposure effects, but not in the same level: 1 – ISO >12800, 1/20s; 2 – ISO >12800, 1/25s; 3 – ISO 25600, 1/30s. Sandgwick Museum of earth sciences, Cambridge.

In the second picture (Pic.17) sequence the parameters were keep more or less in the same level, similarly like in Pic.4 stencil. In effect you may guess, that every picture looks the same. They are differ from each other by noise.

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Pic.17 One place captured in different ISO and time exposure effects, mor or less in the same level: 1 – ISO 1000, 3s; 2 – ISO 1600, 2s; 3 – ISO 3200, 1s; 4 – ISO 5000; 1/2s; 5 – ISO 8000, 1/4s; 6 – ISO 10000, 1/8s; 7 – ISO 12800; 1/8s, 8 – ISO >12800, 1/10s, 9 – ISO 25600, 1/13s.  St. Catharine’s College University of Cambridge.

See the last ISO sensitivity and time exposure examples below (Pic.18,19).

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Pic.18 Night photo difference: 1 – ISO 1600, 15s; 2 – ISO 3200, 30s.
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Pic.19 Night photo difference: 1 – ISO 6400, 1s; 2 – ISO 6400, 30s.

Remember, that in the automatic programmes or effects you can’t set ISO and exposure time manually.

    3. Image retouch

At the commencement of the D5300 test I wrote about Image retouch facilities in this camera. You can read more about it in the links below:

Nikon D5300 Test 1 – Jpg image retouch

Nikon D5300 Test 2 – RAW (NEF) images processing

Refers to those articles I would like to stress, that every photo taken by night and with high ISO, high exposure or higher aperture may subject to retouch. I am going to emphasize D-lightning and exposure compensation only.

When you are planning to take photos in quite dark conditions or you want to receive a natural balance between the main subjects and the background after the fast shutter but you feel, that your photo is too dark. Use RAW format to save your photo. After this you will be able to refine your photo manually much easier as you want. Set D-lightning on the High option. When it won’t help change the exposure compensation in your photo. Exposure compensation is used to alter exposure from the value suggested by the camera (Pic.20,21).

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Pic. 20 Picture with alteration: 1 – ISO 3200, 30s, 0 EV; 2 – ISO 3200, 30s, +2 EV
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Pic.21 Picture with alteration: 1 – ISO 1600, 3s, 0 EV; 2 – ISO 1600, 3s, +2 EV

4. HDR Support

You can use the High Dynamic Range in the night photography also, but is very important to see where certainly is source of light and what is the attitude the light to area, which you would like to capture. You can learn more about HDR from my previous article about D5300.

However in my opinion using the HDR during the dark conditions is slightly different. First of all, the same like during the day you have to adjust your HDR value properly, otherwise your photo will looks like painted sketch. The night lights are more weaker than daylight, thus your exposure time is longer and you have much more light sources at all, not mainly 1 or 2 like during the day.

If you are planning to use HDR take into account 3 basic situations (Pic.22):

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Pic. 22 The High Dynamic Range situations during the night.

1) You – Object – Light – you are going to take photo of object, which is covered by the light beyond. You can use HDR medium level only.

2) You – Light – Object – when you are going to capture something, which is outside the light beyond is essential to use extra high HDR level.

3) You – Object – in this situation you can use extra high HDR level an make your photo slightly brighter.

Now you can see the examples (Pic.23-27).

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Pic.23 Using HDR in night photography, situation 1, ISO 1000, 1s: 1 – Photo without HDR effect, 2 – with low HDR level, 3 – with medium HDR level (optional), 4 – with extra high HDR level Odrzykoń, Nadbrzeżna street, Poland.
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Pic.24 Using HDR in the night photography, situation 1, ISO 6400, 1/10s: 1 – photo without HDR effect, 2 – photo with extra high HDR effect.
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Pic.25 Using HDR in the night photography, situation 2, ISO 1600, 1/10s: 1 – Photo without HDR effect, 2 – with low HDR effect, 3 – with high HDR effect, 4 – with extra high HDR effect. Cambridge, Russel street. 

 

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Pic.26 Using HDR in the night photography, situation 3, ISO 3200, 3s: 1 – Photo without HDR effect, 2 – Photo with extra high HDR effect. Odrzykoń, Nadbrzeżna street, Poland.
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Pic.27 Using HDR in the night photography, situation 3, ISO 3200, 1s: 1 – Photo without HDR effect, 2 – Photo with extra high HDR effect. Odrzykoń, Nadbrzeżna street, Poland.

There are different situation too, like in Pic.28, where the light source is behind the photographer and main objects are very bright but the background is almost completely dark. In this case you need to put extra high HDR level also.

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Pic.28 Using HDR effect in the night photography, light behind the photographer, ISO 3200, 2s: 1 – photo without HDR effect, 2 – with low HDR effect, 3 – with medium HDR effect, 4 – with high HDR effect, 5 – with extra high HDR effect (optional). Odrzykoń, Łęgowa street, Wisłok river, Poland.

In another situation (Pic.29,30) the light source is quite far from you, but everything in your view is dark. In this event you musn’t exaggerate and try to make picture in medium HDR level only.

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Pic.29 Using HDR in the night photography, light far from the photographer, ISO 800, 1/20s: 1 – Photo wothout HDR effect, 2 – with medium HDR effect (optional), 3 – with extra high HDR effect. University of Cambridge Botanic Garden.
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Pic.30 Using HDR effect in the night photography, light far from the photographer, ISO 1600, 1/8s: 1 – photo wothout HDR effect, 2 – with low HDR effect (optional), 3 – with medium HDR effect, 4 – with extra high HDR effect. Parker’s Piece, Cambridge.

High Dynamic Range may support your night photo, because it’s going to be slightly brighter. In many cases is easier to create a proper view especially in the dark-bright places. Otherwise, when you put a very high ISO and you have some brighter parts of your view it may create noisy picture with white sky effect! (Pic.30,31).

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Pic.31 Odrzykoń, Łęgowa street, Poland. ISO >12800, 30s, without HDR effect.
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Pic.32 Odrzykoń, Łęgowa street, riparian forest. ISO 25600, 30s, without HDR effect.

Almost every photo has been done in f3.5 18mm lens.

5. RAW Images

You can take the RAW images and make a various modifications with them the same like during the daylight photography. Read more here.

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Pic.33 RAW images in the night photography, ISO 3200, 30s. Odrzykoń, Turaszowska street, Poland.

Mariusz Krukar

References:

2013, Nikon D5300 Reference Manual, Nikon Corporation

Links:

Nikon D5300 test (Polish)

How to control ISO in your Nikon D5300?

How to adjust your aperture and shutter speed in the Nikon D5300?
Movies:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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