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Colours of the Night

Posted by
Ian Bramham (Manchester, United Kingdom) on 8 April 2008 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

A long exposure view of the lake and snow covered mountains in the beautiful French alpine town of Annecy

NIKON D40 30 seconds F/5.6 ISO 200 15 mm (35mm equiv.)

Like what you see here and are interested in photographic composition?.....the blog section of my website now has a complete set of 5 articles covering my personal approach to the subject: Ian Bramham Photography - Blog

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Michael Skorulski from Cigel, Slovakia

Beautiful, Ian. It is your characteristic style of crispness, great composition and beautiful colors. I assume that is also you on the bench? Wonderful!

8 Apr 2008 5:47am

@Michael Skorulski: Thanks Michael!....yes that's me on the bench as there was no chance of a stranger sitting that still for the 30 seconds that it took for the camera to expose this shot.

Ana Lúcia from Leiria, Portugal

Excellent shot.

8 Apr 2008 6:17am

@Ana Lúcia: Thanks very much Ana!

Putter from Belgium

Incredible shot!

8 Apr 2008 6:31am

@Putter: Thanks very much Putter!

Lorraine from Gatineau, Canada

the mood is striking, the man sits on the bench lost in the 'night in white satin' and gorgeous hues ;)

8 Apr 2008 11:28am

@Lorraine: Self-confession time Lorraine!....that's me in this shot and on the ones over the last 2 days. I was doing a bit of experimentation to find out if these type of photos looked better with or without a person in them. As you can see, I've gone for the ones with a figure as I felt it adds a human scale.

hugo poon from Hong Kong

Thanks for the treat Ian! There's no better refreshment for me (after working for 12 hours) than to view such a lovely night pic... BTW, it's amazing to find no motion blur of the man under such a long exposure.:-)


8 Apr 2008 11:53am

@hugo poon: Hi Hugo!

This photo and the ones over the 2 previous days were taken in Annecy when I was on holiday. As I had a bit more time than usual I tried experimenting a little by taking photos both with and without myself in the frame to see which version I would end up preferring.

As you'll see, I've gone for the ones with a figure (me) each time as I believe that it helps strangers to the photo relate to the scene better and gives the photo a human scale.

This particular shot still makes me smile however, as when I walked out from behind the tripod and sat down on the bench I found out too late that it was soaking wet from all the rain we'd had that day :-)

I ended up sitting there unmoving for the 30 seconds it took for the camera to finish taking the photo.....and spent the rest of the evening taking photos with wet trousers!......dedication to art that's what I call it ha! ha! :-)

alun lambert from cheshire, United Kingdom

He has sat very still, great shot.

8 Apr 2008 12:14pm

@alun lambert: Thanks wasn't easy to sit that still for 30 seconds with the water on the bench soaking through my trousers :-)

Momo from Montpellier, France

amazing image ian...the depth, color, composition...and jeez, that guy sat still for you for 30 seconds?...or maybe it's you?...great model whomever...

8 Apr 2008 12:35pm

@Momo: Thanks Momo!....yes, it's me on the bench :-)

Ian Smith from London, United Kingdom

Hi Ian , This is a very well exposed shot - and I can just imagine all you were thinking about was your soggy a**e :o) I'd love to know more about the technicalities of your shots, like what lens, filter and unique camera setting you use - as your work is very inspiring,.

In response to your query regarding my lack of posts - I'm currently scraping some pennies together to buy a new Mac Pro & ACD (My old Mac finally died a couple of weeks ago). I should be back up and processing again soon. Ian

8 Apr 2008 12:47pm

@Ian Smith: Thanks very much Ian! :-)

With regard to the technicalities of these night shots I try and keep it as simple as possible....I've got a 30 year old aluminium 'Slik 88' that is pretty sturdy and I use an infra-red remote shutter release so I don't disturb the camera once it's all set up.

I don't set the tripod up until I've found a viewpoint I like as it's very restricting on composition to be messing about with the camera once it's all set up. My best shots have been with the Sigma 10-20 lens and I thoroughly recommend it as it seems very sharp and well made with a huge depth of field so it's very forgiving for night work when focus can be a problem sometimes .

I tend to try and keep the lens in it's sweet spot which is usually around f8 - f11 and take the photo using manual mode.....I take a trial shot and adjust exposure from there using the lcd. Sometimes I'll drop down to a lower f stop (like on this shot) if it means keeping within the 30 second limit of the camera's auto exposure mode (I don't use either the histogram or flashing highlights screen for night shots where there are point sources of light such as streetlights as they can lead you astray too easily)

No filter in front of the lens these days as I discovered a while ago that the very expensive one I'd bought for my 10-20 lens worsened flare from streetlights at night....I still get the odd bit of green flare now and then but I can usually deal with it in PP.

For really dark areas a torch and stopwatch are needed.

I hope that helps a little

(PS - I almost forgot to say that in post processing I do more dodging and burning on night shots like this one than I would on any other type of photo.....this one for example had a foreground that was far too bright so I darkened it until it wasn't competing too much with the sky and snow-covered mountains in the background)

Guillermina from Buenos Aires, Argentina

Michael said it very well: another of your characteristically crisp, greatly composed, extremely professional shots. To which I'd add a very neat, architecturally artistic sense of perspective and depth. Of course it had to be you sitting there!

8 Apr 2008 12:56pm

@Guillermina: Thanks Guillermina.....I wasn't sure if this was the kind of photo that you'd like. I'd be interested in hearing what you think about the B&W urban shot that I'm posting on Thursday to see if you like it more or less than this one.

Stock photos from London, United Kingdom

Really nice colors. I have never seen so good mix. Good frame and a feeling of composition. Bravo!

8 Apr 2008 1:19pm

@Stock photos: Thanks very much!

JoeB from Brampton, Canada

Great exposure, its almost to the point of daylight.

8 Apr 2008 1:45pm

@JoeB: Thanks! - Well, my processing of this shot may be a little deceptive as it was taken very late at night but I exposed for the sky and mountains and darkened the foreground afterwards in post processing to balance the light values.

Stu from Kyoto, Japan

Really super colours here, esp in the sky. Your processing really brought out the best in this image. I love that you're your own subject too.

8 Apr 2008 2:05pm

@Stu: Thanks Stu - putting myself into the image was just an experiment in composition and mood to see what effect adding this element would have on the 'feel' of the photo.

MadScientist from Düsseldorf, Germany

Super shot, a surreal scene with lots of details to discover. Exactly that moment when the very last daylight disappears and before night has come. Excellent!

8 Apr 2008 3:13pm

@MadScientist: Thanks very was actually darker in real life than this photos is indicating. I exposed for the sky and mountains as this photo would have been pointless without the mountain view and then darkened the foreground to balance the light values across the frame.

Twelvebit from Victoria, United States

Another beautiful night shot. I think your placement in the shot is a good addition. I've also had problems with lens flare in my night shots even after replacing my cheap UV filter was an expensive one (it improved but did not eliminate flare).

8 Apr 2008 3:27pm

@Twelvebit: Thanks John!.....lens flare is really annoying sometimes on these type of street shots where there are point sources of light such as streetlights. I've definitely seen an improvement since removing the filter from this lens.

pierre from athis mons, France

A very nice shot ! Superb colors. I like it.

8 Apr 2008 4:35pm

@pierre: Thanks very much Pierre!

danthro from Suburbia, United States

Great colors, light and composition. and a gorgeous view. is that you in the shot again? you can control the camera from that far away? is it hard to sit so still for 30 seconds?

8 Apr 2008 8:46pm

@danthro: Hi Danthro...thanks very much!

I do have an infra-red remote control but this distance is a bit marginal for it so I used the 10 second timer for this particular shot.

It's actually very easy to stay still enough for the 30 seconds that this frame took although I have to say that my mind was on how wet my trousers were getting....that bench really was soaking wet after all the rain that day :-)

sherri from Little Rock, Arkansas, United States

A lovely spot with a beautiful view and you've captured it superbly.

9 Apr 2008 4:09am

@sherri: Thanks Sherri....Annecy is the most beautiful town of it's size that I've ever visited!

Nataly from Santa Monica, United States

Beautiful colors, Ian! And yes as many people mentioned above your photos are always exceptionally sharp. And this lens seams to make bit a visible difference as well. Under your influence I am considering it as well.
May I ask how dark was it outside? You managed to pick up lots of blue in the sky.

9 Apr 2008 2:54pm

@Nataly: Hi Nataly,

It's difficult to give you a constructive answer to your question about how dark it was.....the only real answer worth having is in the exif at the side of the image - it was full night - an exposure of 30 seconds at f5.6 is one of my darker images but I exposed for the sky and mountain on the original shot and darkened down the foreground in post processing to equalize the values somewhat.

I instantly fell in love with this 10-20 lens when I got it but I've heard others say that they find it difficult to get a good really depends on whether you find yourself more drawn to wide angle photography or telephoto.

amy from Rocky Mountain House, Canada

It's the mountain in the background that just entrances me. Another one of your amazing night shots.

9 Apr 2008 9:26pm

@amy: Thanks very much Amy!

Lorraine from Gatineau, Canada

knowing that only makes the photo better :)

10 Apr 2008 5:09pm

@Lorraine: Thanks Lorraine!

KimberlyC from United States

Ian, what an amazing shot, and a self portrait no less. Excellent!!

12 Apr 2008 2:53am

@KimberlyC: I'm not really one for self portraits but 'beggars can't be chosers' as they say and I was the only willing subject that I had around..... this was photographed rather late at night when the park was deserted.

danny_only from Hong Kong

It is a very nice picture. It is nice to know the details of the making of this picture and the man inside the picture.

I ALSO like your latest 'Rymth of the River' and 'Patterns in the Snow'. The 2 little human figures add life to the picture, I always enjoy seeing, little moon, little birds, little human figures, little bike .... in a picture, espcially when they are in the right place.

It is a very enjoyable thing to do visiting yours and Hugo's blogs.

Have a nice weekend

12 Apr 2008 5:59am

@danny_only: Thanks very much for visiting's great to see that you are posting photos again over at DPReview!

Darin from Seattle, United States

Wonderful capture!

13 Apr 2008 2:36pm

Pouhou from Apeldoorn, Netherlands

nice again

18 Apr 2008 8:09am

30 seconds
ISO 200
15 mm (35mm equiv.)