Night Photography and Long Exposure


Much of the busy time actually consisted of hanging out at Global City while waiting for Alex who went to see, for the second time, Next to Normal at the RCBC Theater with her friends. Sam was supposed to do a photo shoot while waiting and I thought I’d do the same. Come to think of it, the last interesting night photos I took were on New Year’s Eve.

I suggested Global City which was a mere ten minutes from the RCBC Theater and where night lights can be interesting. I figured we could get a table at an outdoor cafe and make it a base which would be a dozen times more comfortable than walking around with heavy camera bags slung over our shoulders.

My original suggestion was the Boniface High Street or McKinley but Alex’s friend suggested Burgos Circle. We drove around Burgos Circle and, surprisingly, it wasn’t crowded at all. Saturday evenings at Burgos Circle can be really tight and the thin crowd on Sunday evening made me thinks I was in a different place. It was almost quaint with all the available and clean outdoor tables. We parked, took a table at UCC Cafe, ordered coffee and I started taking photos.

The first shots were tentative as I was fiddling with the correct white balance and aperture setting. Of course, there were food shots. Macadamia sans rival which was really good and cappuccino. There was a pretty painting on the wall and I took photos of that too. Then, my eyes turned outward to the buildings surrounding the restaurants and the prettily lit rotunda.

I wasn’t very ambitious. I didn’t bring a tripod and, in low light conditions, the slightest shake of the hand can result in blurred photos. No, I don’t use a flashbulb. I don’t even own one and my DSLR does not have a pop-up flash. So, I stayed with “safe” camera settings.


Then, Sam said why not just place the camera on the table and take long exposures? She suggested a few camera settings but I was skeptical at first. The table was too low and, at that level, most everything was covered by the hedges that lined the sidewalks.

I placed my bag on the table, patted it to flatten as best as I could, placed the camera on top, peeped through the viewfinder and, voila! The level was now perfect. And the long-exposure photography commenced. Pays to have a daughter who’ll soon graduate with a bachelor’s degree in photography.

What is long exposure?

It means setting the shutter speed so that the shutter stays open for a long time with the result that the static objects in the photo are sharp while objects in motion are blurred. In this series of photos, the buildings and plants are sharp but the vehicles are well, the red lines that curve in places? Those are the taillights of vehicles going around the rotunda.

How is that done in practical terms?

To take photos like these, try the following: Set the aperture to 16 and the ISO to 100. Frame the photo then press the camera button. It will take several seconds before you hear the click that signals the closing of the camera’s shutter. Make sure that the camera is not moved during that time. Everything that passes in front of the camera will be captured in the photo but the moving objects will be blurred. Everything that passes in front of the camera will be captured in the photo but the moving objects will be blurred.

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