After Dark at Our House

Dark But Not Dark

After dark at our house

I had been wanting to try some nighttime long exposures for some time, just to see how those would turn out. Recently, Laura was gone overnight to our church’s Ladies Retreat, so I figured once Jaylin went to bed and I got the horses fed, it would be a good time to give it a try.

I had read some nighttime photography tips from several websites, and so I figured it was time to do some experimenting. The above photo is the result of several attempts and several setting changes. There is lots of room for improvement, and I know of several things I would try in the future. But I was happy with this as a first attempt.

As you might be able to tell, this is the view down our driveway, similar to other Driveway Views I have shared recently. Except that, of course, this time it is dark. But actually, it is not entirely dark, as you can see.

I am always amazed at the amount of light outside, even as far away from the city as we live. The glow at the horizon is the lights of Memphis, well over 30 miles away. And the white blur just behind the trees is some light fog that was rolling in, illuminated slightly by the light on our neighbor’s barn, which is over a half mile away. But you can still get a pretty good view of the stars in the sky, which was what I was going for all along.

Here is another attempt that turned out well, but not quite as well as the photo above:

After dark at our house

The main difference in this photo is the light in the foreground, which was coming from our garage. I was experimenting to see if a little foreground light made the photo better, but I don’t think it did. I still like this version, but not quite as much as the first photo up above, which would really be the second photo because the garage light photo was actually taken first.

Plenty of room for improvement, but these were a good start. What settings did I use? Keep reading to the “About the Photos” section.

Light in the Darkness

As I mentioned, I was surprised at how much light there was at night in our seemingly dark rural area. When we first moved here out of the city, I had been used to the streetlights and other city lights, and I thought it would be nice and dark at night. Imagine my surprise at the first cloudless full moon night that we had, when the moonlight lit up the whole area. As it turns out, a place without many lights is not quite as dark as you might think.

To our eyes, light is somewhat relative. What may seem dark when you are used to a lot of light can actually look rather bright if you are used to the darkness.

In other words, when things are dark, just a little bit of light can look pretty bright.

There is a spiritual application there, as we are told by Jesus in Matthew 5:16 to let our lights shine so that others may see what we do and glorify God. While we should do all that we can, it does not take much light to make a difference in a world full of darkness. In other words, anyone can do it, no special minimum level of spirituality required.

Any small act of light that you do for God will shine in the darkness. And God will be glorified.

Bible Verse

But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God. - John 3:21

About the Photos

As you may have guessed, or as you may have read above, both of these photos were long exposure photos. They were both 20 second exposures, which as you can guess requires a tripod. I had the ISO set to 2000, which was actually lower than my first attempts, and the aperture was as wide open as this particular lens would go, which was f/4.5. A wider aperture would have meant either a shorter shutter speed, or more preferably, a lower ISO. The higher the ISO, the more grain, so that is why a lower ISO would be better than a slower shutter speed. After all, you would still need a tripod either way, so the shutter speed is not that much of an issue.

As always, these photos also received a pretty good amount of processing to give them just the right look. That included a bit of noise removal because of the high ISO setting, too.

While I will try again in the future, perhaps with some different settings, I liked the way that these two photos turned out. And the fog rolling in was just icing on the cake.

Photo: A single Raw exposure, processed in Photoshop. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Sony Alpha A7 II
Lens: Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens
Date: October 6, 2018
Location: Home, Williston, Tennessee

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.