NIGHT OPS NEON VEGAS
Tuesday June 11, 2019 22:09 PM
NIGHT OPS NEON VEGAS is part of a photo series that started out as a night excursion into the desert with my wife and I, our youngest daughter and my wife’s brother. Since then “The Crew” has been on several night ops exploring different locations and testing out different photography techniques and equipment.
Night photography ain’t easy. Everything takes longer, because of the low light situation. The first thing you learn in photography is that light is the key to getting a good exposure. Without light, there is no photo. Even when it’s completely dark out, to human eyes, there is still enough ambient light that can be captured by camera using the right technique.
Low light photography situations require extra time to get the proper exposure, and this can double, triple or more the amount of time you spend on a shoot. Not to mention, setup in a low light environment takes longer, and moving around on location requires extra care and adds time to your shoot. Sure, artificial light can be used during setup, and travel, even during exposure, but every time your eyes are exposed to artificial light during night ops, your night vision is compromised and you have to wait for your eyes to adjust back to the dark. So artificial lighting should only be used when necessary.
The night we shot Neon Vegas, we started setting up around 2200 (10PM) and had plenty of ambient lighting from street lights, traffic lights, store lights, light from the moon, even some bounce light from the clouds. So we had plenty of light to get some decent, long exposure photography, but it was still pretty dark in some areas, so we broke out flashlights and deployed one of the most essential pieces of gear I have for night ops, The Genaray LED Portable Light. This light puts out a huge amount of light, and is adjustable to provide more or less light, depending on the situation, and has variable color temperature settings to change the color of the light.
Long exposure photography also requires the use of a tripod. It’s nearly impossible to handhold a camera steady, long enough to capture low light photography without cranking up the ISO to 6400 and adding a ton of grain to your exposure. So I use a tripod to keep my ISO at 100 or 200, and let the camera shutter stay open for several seconds to get that exposure as crisp and clear as possible. Keep in mind, windy nights are particularly frustrating when shooting low light photography, because it causes the tripod to vibrate, which absolutely destroys the exposure. So I don’t usually go on night ops during windy weather.
I’m pleased to say, Night Ops Neon Vegas was a pretty successful shoot. We captured some great shots for the portfolio, had a lot of fun and really stretched the boundaries of my photography skills. I learn something from every shoot, and the more challenging the shoot, the more I learn. This was a great experience for me and my crew.