Welcome Inspire Pilots!
Join our free DJI Inspire community today!
Sign up

Night photography strategy - so many to choose from....

Joined
Jun 28, 2016
Messages
1,862
Reaction score
842
Age
59
Hey doods!

So I was just commissioned to shoot a before/after shot of a parking lot. A construction company will be installing lights and they want a few before and after photos. I plan on using my X5 camera on my Inspire 1. I know that there are several strategies one can use to get good night shots in low lighting:

* Bracketed photography (HDR)
* RAW photography (or D-Log for compressed photos)
* Long exposure

I imagine I can make any one of these work. I was thinking maybe a combination of all 3 will give me the best results for a low-light night shot. I haven't been on site, so I don't know what the ambient lighting will be. The parking lot is in a downtown area, so I imagine ambient light from street lamps will provide some minimal lighting. I'll be processing the photos in Photoshop CC. Unless otherwise indicated, I will probably set WB @ 4200K (what I have been using for years with good success).

I see that the subject of "night photography" has been covered in the forum, but I wasn't able to find anything that specifically compares and/or discusses these different low-light strategies.

I'm honestly only interested in hearing from professional photographers on this one. Please no "you can try this" posts. If I had time to go out and "experiment," that's exactly what I would do. I'm trying to save time here.

D
 
Joined
Nov 2, 2013
Messages
421
Reaction score
79
Location
Olympic Peninsula USA
Hey Donnie, a couple of the strategies are discussed in the following thread. It is in regard to the Evo2 but it is applicable.

I personally stay away from the HDR specific stuff because it can have the most unintended consequences depending on what it used to look at it. More so on video than still imagery. But HDR can appear very unnatural at times. At least to me.

 
Joined
Jun 28, 2016
Messages
1,862
Reaction score
842
Age
59
Hey Donnie, a couple of the strategies are discussed in the following thread. It is in regard to the Evo2 but it is applicable.

I personally stay away from the HDR specific stuff because it can have the most unintended consequences depending on what it used to look at it. More so on video than still imagery. But HDR can appear very unnatural at times. At least to me.

Regarding video, I totally agree. "Nice clean footage, my favorite settings for night video and photography are LOG, F2.8, 1/30s Shutter, ISO800, Daylight WB." With the exception of WB, those are the exact X5 settings I use for night cinematography.

Here's an example of my night cinematography (I didn't do post):


However, this is going to be STILL photography. So I feel I have a little more to work with - more options, if you will.

I agree that HDR can look unnatural. But I believe HDR shots don't HAVE to be unnatural.

I just don't do a lot of night still photography, so I thought I would see what other experts are doing.

D
 
Joined
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
82
Reaction score
40
Age
35
Hello there !

- RAW is king in this case for me , but i'm lazy.
-Hdr can look unnatural but with good editing skills not necessarily - if it takes too much time scrap it lol.
-on dji drones you should do AEB instead, more control and safer options.

my mind questioning hehe :

- are you going to shoot panoramas , stitch?
- wich lens are you going to use?

if you're lazy as i am :

you could consider burnt color profiles wich has more contrast - it depends on how much you are going to edit in post - if any and if client does care or...nvm.

manual WB settings i am usually close to yours values but its matter of "taste" at this point sensor its too small to overthink about real tweaking solutions.

i assume street leds lighting source, not old ancient lighting bulbs, multiple torches effect could be very cool.
but we are in 2022 after all, but Putin doesnt really care - sorry, couldnt help myself.
but i could start building and selling a torches at some point here in Europe.

then there we go, our brain comes in handy :

- Night shoot tip - just "cold WB" trick,
at a starting-dusk-time
but the real pro trick it is ask the owner to turn ON the lights before the usual time , this way the lights will be at full power in any case above except for the torch, burn time is around 5-6 hours if no wind.lol.

since "that trick" even small sensors can be decent, i've done it with a mavic 1 pro at starting-dusk light vs inspire 2 at blue hour.
m1p dusk "fake" blue light ruled all the way, my i2 went shy for about two weeks.

later in night conditions-bright as midnight leds then you can take a proper night shot , smoke a cigar meanwhile - blend it just do same framing but AEB exposures - easy.

if you're even more lazier than me and would like to enjoy smoking a cigar while drone takes pictures, avoiding re-framing grids, wich is too much of a harass for our nowadays busy scrolling mobile skills- useless content-brain damager, and you do not want to end up framing after-before get the "drone repeat app" - it is great for that kind of stuff but very expensive : free download but 1.99$ for export repeats action lol ;)

choose the right time for the dusk shots, not too dark, little sunlight left in the air
everything else it is too late , but once you hit it, well very satisfy.

long exposure could help if you had ahead time and willing to spend it in post and in "air tentatives" if there is no wind....etc....and manage the various blending strategies otherwise my suggest is just to scrap it.

You want to squeeze every inch of this sensor to suck any light and acquire superb sharp shots lol

Meter off the brightest part of the scenery if the tones vary, pretty sure parking lot does.

Point and focus - dark areas - camera live view manual focus

A flashlight or laser pointer can really be helpful
if laser pointer , use a green laser pointer instead of red, green goes further into dark.

everything else its done in post or just be even more lazy than i am : scrap everything i just wrote and shoot if you like what you see, easy!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Donnie Frank
Joined
Jun 28, 2016
Messages
1,862
Reaction score
842
Age
59
Hello there !

- RAW is king in this case for me , but i'm lazy.
-Hdr can look unnatural but with good editing skills not necessarily - if it takes too much time scrap it lol.
-on dji drones you should do AEB instead, more control and safer options.
Yep..."bracketed" in my OP.



my mind questioning hehe :

- are you going to shoot panoramas , stitch?
No. Just a single frame.



- wich lens are you going to use?
The one that comes stock on the X5: 1:1.7/15 Aspherical.


if you're lazy as i am :

you could consider burnt color profiles wich has more contrast - it depends on how much you are going to edit in post - if any and if client does care or...nvm.
The client is a construction company. They just want before and after shots of their parking lot. They're installing lights. I've good luck with WB 4200K @ night. It should make their new lights (which I assume are going to be LED's) look nice and white.



manual WB settings i am usually close to yours values but its matter of "taste" at this point sensor its too small to overthink about real tweaking solutions.
4200K is my standard "moonlight" WB.



i assume street leds lighting source, not old ancient lighting bulbs,
Correct.



multiple torches effect could be very cool.
but we are in 2022 after all, but Putin doesnt really care - sorry, couldnt help myself.
but i could start building and selling a torches at some point here in Europe.
Citelum is a company out of France who did our city. The U.S. outsources everything now...at least while Biden is in office....<;^)



then there we go, our brain comes in handy :

- Night shoot tip - just "cold WB" trick,
at a starting-dusk-time
but the real pro trick it is ask the owner to turn ON the lights before the usual time , this way the lights will be at full power in any case above except for the torch, burn time is around 5-6 hours if no wind.lol.
The "star" of the shot is the parking lot, which has no lights. I COULD have them turn on the lights. But the focus is the parking lot, not the structure. I don't want to pull focus from the parking lot. I used to do that for car dealership "Midnight Madness Sale" videos, but we wanted the structure to be the focus of those videos. Hmmmm...I'll have to think about that.



since "that trick" even small sensors can be decent, i've done it with a mavic 1 pro at starting-dusk light vs inspire 2 at blue hour.
m1p dusk "fake" blue light ruled all the way, my i2 went shy for about two weeks.

later in night conditions-bright as midnight leds then you can take a proper night shot , smoke a cigar meanwhile - blend it just do same framing but AEB exposures - easy.

if you're even more lazier than me and would like to enjoy smoking a cigar while drone takes pictures, avoiding re-framing grids, wich is too much of a harass for our nowadays busy scrolling mobile skills- useless content-brain damager, and you do not want to end up framing after-before get the "drone repeat app" - it is great for that kind of stuff but very expensive : free download but 1.99$ for export repeats action lol ;)
This is going to be less decorative and more forensic. They just want a nice contrasting difference between the dark vs well-lit parking lot.



choose the right time for the dusk shots, not too dark, little sunlight left in the air
everything else it is too late , but once you hit it, well very satisfy.
Night shots.

D
 
Joined
Nov 2, 2013
Messages
421
Reaction score
79
Location
Olympic Peninsula USA
The U.S. outsources everything now...at least while Biden is in office....

I didn't know that. The US consumer economy is us, right? And so I guess that makes sense. I know where you sourced your Inspire. Where do you get the rest of your stuff? Oh, you out-sourcer you. Just like me and everyone else on the forum.

Now, about those night shot setting tips!
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2016
Messages
1,862
Reaction score
842
Age
59
I didn't know that. The US consumer economy is us, right? And so I guess that makes sense. I know where you sourced your Inspire. Where do you get the rest of your stuff?
It depends. I use U.S. sources whenever possible. But obviously DJI is a Chinese company with Chinese product. So there's not much choice there. And as long as the FAA and FCC keep banging their fists here in the U.S., it will be tough for U.S. drone companies to compete in the world market.



Oh, you out-sourcer you.
Guilty. I don't mind purchasing Chines product from China. I do mind purchasing a Ford built in Mexico. The U.S. has the ability to beat world markets on almost every level. The last administration was working toward that. This administration, not so much. But that's no secret.



Just like me and everyone else on the forum.

Now, about those night shot setting tips!
I'm going to go out there tonight and just take a bunch of shot using different methods. The moon was pretty bright last night around 6:00. So that's when I plan on shooting. I'm going to use my X5 camera on my Inspire 1.

D
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2016
Messages
1,862
Reaction score
842
Age
59
Funny...

So I get to the job site with my Inspire 1 and for the first time in my life I get this error message:

1646028173628.png


Since when did Balloon Fiesta Park become a "Military Zone???"

Fortunately, I brought along my Mavic Pro "just in case." My Mavic Pro is hacked so I don't have to worry about these erroneous Military zones that literally don't exist.

The photo turned out not too bad (this is just a screenshot).

1646030010421.png

Bird: Mavic Pro

Settings:
WB: 4200K
ISO: 200
Shutter: 1" (I think)
Aperture: Wide open (whatever that is - f/2.8, I believe)
No filter (of course)
Shot in RAW.
Used AEB.
Used 2 of my 3 bracketed photos to produce this HDRish photo.
Processed in Photoshop.

D
 
Last edited:

New Threads

Members online

No members online now.

Forum statistics

Threads
21,739
Messages
207,560
Members
31,797
Latest member
KennethAgind