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November 2012 Newsletter

I always feel a certain sense of relief when the weather turns - the fall is always a bit of a scramble for me, as I try to fit in last minute photography assignments while the sun's still shining.  And now the leaves are down, we've had  rain & a bit of snow, and I have time to catch up with editing and of course, my newsletter.  

Fall & Winter Workshop info......

Looking for a field trip?  I am teaching Black & White Photography at the Arboretum in Guelph on Saturday, Nov. 17, from 1 to 4 p.m This class is all about form & texture, patterns of light & shadows, documenting a world without colour. We'll spend part of the class outside.  There is a registration deadline of Friday, Nov. 8, after which you may not get a spot, so don't delay if you think you'd like to take it.  Also at the Arboretum look for Photographing Winter Landscapes on Saturday, Jan. 26 from 1 to 4 p.m. To register or for more information, visit the Arboretum website.

In Orangeville, I am offering a morning 4-week session of Basic Levels of Photography, starting on Thursday, Nov.15 until Thurs. Dec. 6.  Also in Orangeville, look for "From Camera to Computer" on Monday, Nov. 12.  This one covers uploading, sorting and editing your digital files on a computer. Register for either of these by calling F-Stop Cameras at 519-941-4381.

Looking ahead, I will be offering Basic Levels of Photography at the Elora Centre for the Arts  on Thursdays, from Nov. 10 to Jan. 31, 7 to 9:30 p.m., and Intermediate Photography from Monday, Feb 11 to Mar. 4, also from 7 to 9:30 p.m.  Visit their website for more info or to register by phone or on-line.  I am also planning an Introduction to Photoshop session again,  most likely a Saturday class.  Let me know if you're interested, and I'll see about dates shortly.

My complete workshop schedule is posted on my website, regardless of location.  Be sure to check this regularly, as I add new classes to the list.

You can also purchase gift certificates for any of these classes - use the registration contact info for details.

Night Photography Tips

Night photography can be a lot of fun, and with the Christmas season coming up, there will be a lot to photograph on the streets at night. In most cases, the camera’s automatic exposure mode will not handle these situations well – try using the aperture priority or shutter priority modes for more control, or use the manual mode. All SLR type and many point & shoot cameras offer these settings.

Try these tips:

Camera support-successful night photography depends on using long shutter speeds. A tripod or other support is essential as some of the exposures can involve shutter speeds of several seconds or even minutes.

Decide what part of the image you want properly exposed. Often a night scene will have bright lights, and areas of darkness, and it’s almost impossible to expose everything to show detail. You may need to try different shutter speeds or apertures to get the best result.

How is the lighting portrayed in the scene? When shooting rows of street lighting, for example the direct light source itself is being photographed; therefore the lighting being exposed is very bright. An image of a floodlit building is an image exposed by reflected light. This naturally is much weaker and would need a longer exposure. In many cases the two examples would be included in the same image, leading to extreme contrasts. In a case like this it is always best to expose for the reflected light .Ignore any lights that show in the image. Doing this will lead to overexposure of the light fixtures, but the entire photo will look better.

Use good composition for your night photo- leading lines, interesting patterns of light, foreground interest such as silhouettes, and use shadows to add interest.

Experiment with moving objects or people- slow shutter speeds will create light trails and blurred people moving through your scene. Try using a flash along with a really slow shutter speed.

Try zooming in or out partway through a long exposure, for some really interesting effects.

Try filters- star filters, multipliers, diffusion filters. These can be threaded onto the lens, or simply held in front during the exposure - don’t include your fingers!

Choose your time of night- night photography often works best about ½ hour after sunset, when there is still a bit of light in the sky, however, when shooting Christmas lights, fireworks, or making light trails, later is better.

Use a flash-for a flash to work properly, it must bounce off a surface and reflect back to the camera. A general night scene will have large areas of open space with nothing to reflect off. A flash can be used to light up a portion of the photo, such as a person or detail in the photo, but should be used with a very slow shutter speed to allow the available light to show as well. If you use a really long shutter speed, you can “paint with light”, by firing an off-camera flash at objects in the scene from different positions. Or try this effect using a powerful flashlight to light the scene.

Shoot the moon & stars- a full moon is actually very bright, and will not need a long exposure. A half or quarter moon needs more exposure, and will require a tripod and slow shutter speed. Blurring can occur because the earth is moving, and this can record in the photo. A single moon in the photo is boring- try using foreground interest such as tree branches, or frame the moon between objects such as buildings. A telephoto lens will bring the moon in much closer but will exaggerate the movement in a slow exposure. Try moonlit landscapes, especially in the winter when the light reflects off the snow.

Stars require a really long exposure, of several minutes There is no way to freeze the movement using a typical camera and tripod, so your star photos will actually be star trails.

Sample exposures:

Lights are variable at best, and can change in brightness from one night to the next, but try the following exposure times as a starting point……

Store windows- 1/6 sec. @ f4 ISO 400 (windows can vary a lot in brightness)

Street scenes with mixed lighting - 1/8 sec. @ f4 ISO 800

Christmas lights on a house- 1 sec. @ f4 ISO 200

Christmas lights in bare branches- 2 sec. @ f4 ISO 200

Street scene with blurry people walking- ¼ sec. @ f4 ISO 800 ( too slow a shutter speed will not allow people to record on the film or sensor)

Candle light- 1/15 sec. @ f 8 ISO 200

Firelight- 1/125 @ 2.8 ISO 100 ( for frozen movement)

Stained glass windows, lit from behind- 1 sec. @ f4 ISO 200

Street scenes with light trails- 1. 5 sec. @ f4 ISO 200

Full moon- 1/125 sec. @ f1 ISO 200

Half moon- 1/30 sec. @ f11 ISO 200

Stars- 4 or more minutes, @ f8 ISO 400 -depending on how many stars you want to record. (and how cold you get)

Lunar eclipse- anywhere from 30 sec. to several minutes, depending on the phase of the eclipse. Use f8 or higher, and a low ISO. Good luck!


Here I was, out in the rain again. My favourite weather. This image is from my annual trip to the French River area this past September.  On the drive home, I noticed this stand of birch trees, and stopped for a better look.  The wet weather had saturated the trunks, and with a slight mist in the dark forest behind, the stark whiteness of the trunks was emphasized.  This is another scene that works well in less than ideal conditions....

Art show info & other news.......

I have had a lot of fun with art shows this summer & fall.  I had  new photographs in the Headwaters Arts Festival in Caledon, at Groves Memorial Hospital in Fergus as part of the Elora Arts Council's "Art in Public Spaces" program, as well as in on-going member shows at the Whitestone Gallery in Guelph and the Harris Artists' Collective in Elora.  I enjoy these shows as it gives me a chance to share recent photographs, and meet some of you in person. Right now I am part of a six-artist show at the Elora Centre for the Arts. "Autumnal Expressions" runs until November 11.  This will be followed by the Annual Christmas Show & Sale, with work by all the HAC members. The opening for this will be on Sunday, Nov. 18 from 2 until 4 -  stop in if you get a chance...you will be able to meet the artists. I'll also be hosting the gallery on Sunday, November 11 from 12 to 4...it would be great to see you then as well.

In other news, I was very pleased to receive two honourable mentions in the International Photography Awards professional category this fall.  The images chosen were "Waterloo County Fog" (Editorial) and "Red Willow Morning" (Fine Art).  This is one of the largest international photography competitions, with over 10,000 entries from more than 100 countries.  I still can't quite believe it....

Many of my photographs are available in framed, limited editions of 5.  Most of them are shown in the galleries on my art website.  Let me know if you'd like more information about the images, sizes and the types of paper I use.

Just scheduled....Winter Equine Photography - Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013

Yes, I know it's early to be looking  at February classes, but this is a popular one, _mg_4446and often fills up quickly.  It also makes a great Christmas gift for anyone who loves horses & enjoys photographing them. 

In this class we look at all types of equine photography, including conformation and head studies, and will spend time outside photographing horses playing in the snow.   You will need a camera that you are familiar with.

I hold this class at Travis Hall Equestrian Centre, just outside of Fergus. The cost is $135 + HST, and includes lunch, and is from 10 until 4, Saturday Feb. 9. (In case of bad weather, the class will run on Sunday, Feb 10).  Contact me to register or for more details.

Sylvia Galbraith
519-787-7040 or toll-free 1-866-787-7040
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