Since I've been back from my three months in Sydney (Sydney, I miss you!!), I've been reaching out to local Boston photographers to see about doing some shoots around town. One group that I'm really excited that I joined is the Boston Shootout Meet Up Group. They have just over 125 members scattered throughout regional Boston and they do a lot of night photography around the city.
My first meet with them was a couple weeks ago where I learned how to take this photo:
Since I had such a great time at my first meet, I was quick to join the group this past Tuesday night at the Boston Common.
There's always something going on at the Common--that's one of the things that I love so much about this location. So I shouldn't have beens surprised when I was greeted with an all-trumpet orchestra (I think they called themselves Too Many Trumpets, and I think they were connected to Emerson somehow). Once I found our photography group, we caught a few snaps of the sunset and then we wandered on to Acorn Street.
It's funny, everyone in the group that night is either from Boston or has at least lived here for some years. But none of us had actually ever been to Acorn Street. It's a beautiful spot and well worth the visit. Beacon Hill is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the U.S., so if you make it to Acorn Street, it's worth your time to wander more of the neighborhood.
Once we got our fill of Acorn Street, someone suggested we do some night photos over at one of the garages at Haymarket. So off we went.
This was only the second time using my tripod (Manfrotto BeFree), and really this was the first time trying to do night photography in the city. If you want to take a photo of the city at night, it seems that you have to choose exposure for either the buildings or the stars ... BUT the guys in the meet-up group taught me HDR photography. After figuring how to set up my camera for HDR, I took a ton of photos experimenting with the process. Once I got a sense of how it worked, I took some more deliberate shots.
Here's my first HDR photo:
I took a ton more photos that night, but I've only selected a couple more to share. My most favorite of the night is the photo at top.
There's obviously still a lot I have to learn about this process, but I love that I'm dipping my toe into night photography. It adds just one more style to my bag of photography options. I can't wait to get out there and do some more.
Thanks for hanging with me to the end of this post. If you have any tips for HDR, long exposure, or best places to photograph Boston at night, please share in the comments. Thanks!
As an added bonus, here are a few photos from my first outing with the Boston Shootout Meet-Up Group:
[For those of you not familiar with HDR, essentially it works like this: with your camera on a tripod or some other steady surface, set up your camera at whatever it is you want to shoot. That part is obvious, I know. First thing's first: make sure you're shooting in RAW!!! Haha. Change your settings to HRD. I had to Google this in order to figure out how to do on my camera. Now set your ISO to 100 (astrophotography is a different thing, so only consider these instructions for cityscapes). In aperture priority, set your aperture to f/7.1. You may need to play around with the aperture. I found I was bouncing between f/7.1 to f/11. You'll also need to make sure you're in manual focus because most likely it'll be too dark for your autofocus to work. Again, thanks to one of the members there, I learned a new way to focus in manual mode. In live preview mode, there's a way to zoom in on the subject. My Canon T6s has a little button just below the shutter button that does this. By zooming in on your subject using this button, you can get some super-tight focus. Note that this only works with manual focus. Now that your ISO, aperture, and focus are all set, all you have to do is click the shutter. This is the cool part: Your camera will automatically take three different photos, each with a different exposure rate: overexposed, underexposed, and neutral. Other than exposure, you will have three identical images on your SD Card. Once you have all your photos uploaded to your computer, you "merge" the photos in photo-editing software, such as Lightroom. Now you have a 4th file that's a combination of all the photos that you took earlier, which means there's tons of data in the photo that you can edit to your heart's content. By the way, this is the very, very basic way of doing HDR. Once you learn this, I've been told, there are tons of other ways to manipulate / customize the process. Good luck!]