It is the simple things that catch my eye sometimes. Earlier I had a view of the entire Sacramento Valley at night with the light twinkling in the clear. It was not worth shooting. 5 lit trees on a dark road? Now, that’s worth it!
(click through on the image to view in 700px)
Some of you might be wonder how easy or difficult it would be to meter a scene like this. Not too difficult would be the answer. If the purpose is to meter only the trees and none of the very structures behind, switch to spot metering and place the focus point on one of the trees. Even at 30″ shutter the in-camera exposure meter will likely show the scene to be greatly underexposed. Take note of your ISO setting. Mine was ISO100 at the time. By bumping the ISO up to 200, the exposure meter registered as properly exposed. ISO 200 is 1-stop more light (double the amount of light) than 100. (200 -> 100). So if I wanted to shoot at ISO 100, I would need to up the shutter speed to 1 minute. I was actually fine with shooting at ISO 200, so I left it as such.
The final aperture for this particular shot was f/11 as I wanted to dim the trees just slightly while also increasing the depth of field. I had experimented with exposure times from 45 seconds to 1 minute, but the brightest areas on the trees appeared a little blown out resulting in a loss of detail. Remember, the “perfect” exposure can be achieved by adjusting ISO, f/stop, and shutter speed, but can result in a very different end product. And you may intentionally not achieving a perfect exposure for a variety of creative reasons. Perfect exposure is just a starting point.
EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center-weighted metering mode, 55mm, ISO 200, 30 sec, f/11
Trees, Up Lighting, Night, Long Exposure. El Dorado Hills, California. January 03, 2013. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.