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Author Topic: Photographing "lit" fountains  (Read 5633 times)

Tom

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Photographing "lit" fountains
« on: July 28, 2015, 07:41:46 PM »
The HOA contractors wired lights to the fountain in the pond alongside our home away from home. Last night was the first time we'd seen the "lit" fountain. I grabbed my cell phone and snapped a few shots, but they were pretty poor. Attached is one of the cropped shots, which I'm embarassed to show.

Plan B - I grabbed one of my DSLRs and tried some of the preset 'scene' settings, including night and fireworks. It was very apparent that I needed a tripod, and this was our first trip when I'd left the tripods at home.

I'm going to try again tonight using a small table in place of a tripod. Anyone have any suggestions for camera settings?

TIA.
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MN Blue Skies

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2015, 07:57:04 PM »
Tom,

What camera and lens are you using? Are you using a tripod?
A girl called Max, her husband Eric, Princess Kitty, and Molly the Service Dog in training.

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MN Blue Skies

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2015, 08:00:46 PM »
There are no if and or buts... you need a tripod.  I'm suspect there are several people who can help you with low-light motion images but we will need to know what camera and lenses you have available.
A girl called Max, her husband Eric, Princess Kitty, and Molly the Service Dog in training.

2013 Cougar High Country 315 RES ( A 35' 5th Wheel)
"Big Blue" 2012 RAM 3500 Big Horn (Cummins Diesel 1 ton)

Tom

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2015, 08:21:01 PM »
Unfortunately, my tripods are 2,500 miles away, and we leave in the morning, so no time to get a tripod, even an el cheapo. So I figured I'd use a small folding table instead.

Camera: Canon Rebel XSi.

Lens options: Canon 55-250mm image stabilized, and Canon 18-55mm (probably not any use for this shot).

Note that the prior attachment was taken with a cell phone, not the Canon.
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Larry N.

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2015, 08:49:59 PM »
You'd probably want to try a number of things, Tom, to get results that please you. Full auto exposure, shutter priority (slow shutter to get the blur), aperture priority (to sharpen some things), perhaps bulb, or manual at several f-stops with very slow shutter (1/15, 1/8/, 1/4, etc.).

It's a good learning experience and you may find several variations that please you in different ways, depending on your personal preferences.

But above all, keep it still (the table while using the timer might be good -- compose first, then touch the shutter release).
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Tom

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2015, 08:52:18 PM »
Thanks Larry, and a good reminder (I'd forgotten) about using the timer to avoid movement.
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MN Blue Skies

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2015, 08:53:08 PM »
So I figured I'd use a small folding table instead.

Camera: Canon Rebel XSi.

Lens options: Canon 55-250mm image stabilized, and Canon 18-55mm (probably not any use for this shot).


I am a Canon shooter but unfortunately I'm not familiar with the Rebel XSi.  It looks like your max ISO is 1600 but I'll try to do a quick search regarding the capabilities of this camera.  The small folding table is a good idea in lieu of a tripod.  Any chance you have a remote shutter release?  I would use the 55-250 lens.  I will do more research but hopefully other forum members will chime in.
A girl called Max, her husband Eric, Princess Kitty, and Molly the Service Dog in training.

2013 Cougar High Country 315 RES ( A 35' 5th Wheel)
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MN Blue Skies

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2015, 08:54:35 PM »
Larry makes a good point,  in lieu of a shutter release you could use the timer if your camera has one.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2015, 09:14:15 PM by MN Blue Skies »
A girl called Max, her husband Eric, Princess Kitty, and Molly the Service Dog in training.

2013 Cougar High Country 315 RES ( A 35' 5th Wheel)
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MN Blue Skies

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2015, 08:55:46 PM »
Is your camera capable of "bracketing" exposures?
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PancakeBill

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2015, 08:57:59 PM »
Move ISO down, you want a longer exposure for the water blur.  Obviously you don't have your stuff with you.  Maybe a polarizer?  Something to cut the light a bit.  Yes, use 2 sec timer to get your hand away.  Look at the histogram, hit the info button, be sure the right side is not a straight line.

Try multiple shots changing the shutter speed.  Probably use f8 or higher to help in keeping shutter speed slower than 1/30 sec.

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PancakeBill

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2015, 08:59:37 PM »
Many Rebels are capable of bracketing.  If so,, use it with center at the 0, and then right side to meet what had been left side.  Gets 6 brackets the camera does instead of continuing to change settings.

Bill & Jolene W & Koda

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MN Blue Skies

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2015, 09:08:50 PM »
Many Rebels are capable of bracketing.  If so,, use it with center at the 0, and then right side to meet what had been left side.  Gets 6 brackets the camera does instead of continuing to change settings.

Pancake Bil, is the Canon XSi capable of six brackets?

Tom,  never leave home without your tripod  ;)
A girl called Max, her husband Eric, Princess Kitty, and Molly the Service Dog in training.

2013 Cougar High Country 315 RES ( A 35' 5th Wheel)
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MN Blue Skies

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2015, 09:15:56 PM »
Tom, are you familiar with bracketing?
A girl called Max, her husband Eric, Princess Kitty, and Molly the Service Dog in training.

2013 Cougar High Country 315 RES ( A 35' 5th Wheel)
"Big Blue" 2012 RAM 3500 Big Horn (Cummins Diesel 1 ton)

Tom

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2015, 09:39:07 PM »
I'm somewhat familiar with bracketing, but where's my starting point? Aperture priority, shutter priority? Starting settings around which to bracket?
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PancakeBill

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2015, 09:52:05 PM »
The Xsi would only be capable with a couple setups.  Not all at once.  Set 3, change base, take 3 more. 

Starting point.  Aperture, pick f8, then bracket say 1/15 1/30/ 1/60.  Or however that would  work out.  This way depth of field is the constant.  You want it somwhat slow to get blur unless you want to freeze droplets.  Both good effects.

 
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MN Blue Skies

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2015, 10:52:05 PM »
Bill, this is complicated by the extremely low light.
A girl called Max, her husband Eric, Princess Kitty, and Molly the Service Dog in training.

2013 Cougar High Country 315 RES ( A 35' 5th Wheel)
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Tom

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2015, 04:39:34 AM »
Thanks for the suggestions. My "table" plan didn't work out too well; Tough to get a good angle on the scene, then realized I couldn't find some of the buttons in the dark. Finally got set up, best I could, and realized my battery was about to die. Back into the house and put the battery on charge before crashing in the chair (it had been a very looong day). I'm going to practice/experiment at other locations and, since we hit the road this morning, I'll get this one next time we're back here, with a tripod! Hopefully I'll be more acquainted with the camera's manual controls.
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Tom

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2015, 06:54:04 AM »
During my research yesterday, I found this article on How to photograph the fountains of the Bellagio at night. A lot more action and lights than our small fountain. I don't recall attempting to photograph this spectacle on the few times we've been to Vegas. Coincidentally, I recently watched a TV documentary of the inner (and underwater) workings of the show.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2015, 06:56:01 AM by Tom »
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MN Blue Skies

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #18 on: July 29, 2015, 08:34:58 AM »
We've never been to Las Vegas but it is on our list.  We'll have to check out the fountains at Bellagio.  I suspect there is a lot of extra ambient light around the fountains. 
A girl called Max, her husband Eric, Princess Kitty, and Molly the Service Dog in training.

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PancakeBill

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #19 on: July 29, 2015, 08:45:24 AM »
MN, the fountain is bright, HDR would work best if he had the info.  From what you can see on the original post everything is dark and the fountain has blown out whites.  He needs to expose for the bright area, and with HDR or with some lighting, brighten up the other areas,


I recently was shooting a waterfall in the dark of a new moon, lighting it remotely with a panel light.  So, yes, familiar with the low light.  Still not quite satisfied with results but getting closer.

The tough part is limiting the light to what you want lit.
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Tom

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #20 on: July 29, 2015, 01:16:29 PM »
What's HDR?
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blw2

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #21 on: July 29, 2015, 01:41:34 PM »
What's HDR?
High Dynamic Range
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-dynamic-range_imaging

This might not be correct, but I think of it as taking two or more different exposures and merging them into a single image.
I only know about it from my phone cameras.  My real cameras don't have the capability.
But I suppose it can be done through post processing.
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Tom

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #22 on: July 29, 2015, 02:12:54 PM »
Thanks for the link Brad.
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MN Blue Skies

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #23 on: July 29, 2015, 03:49:08 PM »
Tom,

HDR means High Dynamic Range.  Basically a photographer captures 3+ images at different exposures and then combines them in post-production.  The photographer is better able to avoid clipping the brightest brights and the darkest darks thereby increasing the luminosity and tonal range.

I’ve only used HDR for commercial portraits and had the models stand perfectly still.  I started out by using a scene that had lots of color (a Tibetan shop in a global market.)  The colors really popped.)  I use Photomatix for my HDR post production work.  I think recent versions of Photoshop and Lightroom might have an HDR feature but my photography peers all recommended Photomatix so that’s what I use.

Motion might not be as big a deal with HDR landscape photography.  HDR can produce some stunning images however I think a little goes a long way.  If the range of exposures is too drastic the images can look surreal or cartoonish.  I guess it’s a matter of taste.  There are lots of examples of HDR on the internet.

Following is a link to a fairly decent HDR guide for beginners:
http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/what-is-hdr-beginners-guide-to-high-dynamic-range-photography/

My recommendations:
•   Shoot Raw
•   Use a Tripod
•   Use auto-bracketing if your camera has that feature.  If not you can change the exposures manually.
•   To begin I would try shooting a grouping of stationary, colorful objects.
•   Check out Photomatix.  There might be a free trial.
•   Don’t be intimidated.  HDR is not as hard as it sounds or looks.
•   Have fun!  :)

« Last Edit: July 29, 2015, 03:54:19 PM by MN Blue Skies »
A girl called Max, her husband Eric, Princess Kitty, and Molly the Service Dog in training.

2013 Cougar High Country 315 RES ( A 35' 5th Wheel)
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Tom

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #24 on: July 29, 2015, 04:15:46 PM »
Thanks Max. Way too complicated for me.
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workerdrone

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #25 on: July 30, 2015, 07:37:41 AM »
No tripod, no timer, handheld, iso800, 1/5th of a second with VR.  Understand the rules and then go ahead and break them :)

I was able to handhold this at 1/5th of a second because
  - lens had vr
  - I fired off a continuous burst, and most of them were throwaways, but this one was ok
  - wide angle lens, which allows lower shutter speeds handheld

Otherwise I would have used a tripod or a rest with the self timer, and adjusted iso up and down as needed to get a shutter speed that worked with the water flow
« Last Edit: July 30, 2015, 07:41:21 AM by workerdrone »
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Ernie n Tara

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #26 on: July 30, 2015, 05:19:39 PM »
Didn't take photos, but we ate at the outdoor Chinese restaurant across from the Bellagio on the fourth of July one year; truly a bucket list event with the fountains synched to patriotic music. Recommended!

Ernie
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SeilerBird

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #27 on: July 30, 2015, 06:16:51 PM »
I have noticed that just about every movie, tv show and documentary that features Las Vegas starts with some establishing shots (like we don't know what Las Vegas looks like) and it always includes shots of the Belagio Fountain. It is an awesome fountain show for sure. I have not seen the 4th of July show since I don't do Vegas in the summer time. :(
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SeilerBird

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #28 on: August 18, 2015, 08:59:36 PM »
As I was driving around town tonight I passed a well lit fountain so I stopped by and took some shots. I tried my cell phone but that was hopeless, not enough control. I didn't use a tripod, I didn't shoot RAW, and I certainly didn't use no stinkin' HDR. I used my bridge camera. Set it on S (TV for Canon) to be able to set the shutter speed and let the camera set everything else. My first shot was at 1/500 and I liked that. Then I bracketed it with a shot at 1/250 but it was too blown out and the water was not frozen. Then I tried 1/1000 and it was too dark. I have posted the 1/500 shot. Pretty simple shot.
 
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SeilerBird

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Re: Photographing "lit" fountains
« Reply #29 on: August 19, 2015, 03:26:58 AM »
Seiler,  I know we butt heads regarding photography however I have to ask you REALLY?  What about composition?  Is that an image you are proud of and that you want to present as your best work?  I suspect you are capable of better.  Am I wrong?
No I am not proud of the composition. But what else can you do with an lit fountain? You put it in the middle. I could move it to one side or the other but I don't really think it would improve things. There is nothing else that can be done. Everything else is black on all sides of it. I realize you are not suppose to put things in the middle but I really can't think of any other composition. Why don't you go photograph a fountain and show me how it should be done? The purpose of the thread was about the settings for the camera for exposure, not about composition.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2015, 03:32:14 AM by SeilerBird »
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