How I succeeded at event photography the first time

An organization recently asked me to do event photography for a high-profile fundraising event. I accepted, despite never having done it before. It went quite well. Here’s how I went about doing it the first time out.

Fundraiser event photography, Skirball Cultural Center.
Fundraiser event photography, Skirball Cultural Center.

“Can you take some photographs for us?”

The Development Director of a large non-profit organization asked if I wanted to take photos at a large-scale gala fundraising event, awards ceremony and dinner at Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, CA. I was intrigued. I had never tried to do event photography. Almost all my successes as a photographer have been doing long exposure night photography, a completely different genre.

I felt I should try something new. Learning different forms of photography often informs your creativity and keeps you more open to other possibilities. I asked some questions, negotiated a fair price, and it was on.

At this point, you might be thinking, “You accepted a gig to photograph millionaires at a high-profile gala fundraising event with no experience in event photography?” Yes, that’s exactly what I did. I had enough confidence to know that I could pull it off. But now, I had some preparation to do.

Finding out about the light

When doing event photography, it can be good to get different perspectives.
When doing event photography, it can be good to get different perspectives.

First, I determined what sort of lighting there would be. I would photograph from about 6–7:30 p.m. The lighting during that time would be a combination of intense summer sun with shade, later becoming mostly shade. I would need to constantly wander indoors and outdoors. In other words, the lighting was quite variable. This was a worthy puzzle to solve.

Using my night photography background

I did light painting during long exposure night photography, I had a strong foundation of how light shapes and controls an image. I had also done some night portraits using off-camera flash. This too would help. I’d think of it like light painting, only doing it much faster.

Fundraiser event photography, Skirball Cultural Center.
Fundraiser event photography, Skirball Cultural Center.

Flash bracket

After some thought, I purchased an inexpensive Stroboframe Quick Flip 350 Flash Bracket. While I rarely used on-camera flash, I felt this might work. 

Rogue Flashbender, Nikon SB-600 speedlight, Stroboframe flash bracket, Vivitar FCNIK Flash Cord, and Nikon D750.
Rogue FlashbenderNikon SB-600 speedlight, Stroboframe flash bracket, Vivitar FCNIK Flash Cord and Nikon D750.

Why? 

First of all, I received only vague information about the room. During the rare times that I did use flash, I bounced it off a wall or ceiling. This produces a more pleasing light than pointing the flash at people and getting harsh, flat light and unflattering shadows, red-eye, and irritated looks. But could I do that here?

I also needed to walk indoors and outdoors many times. The light would change dramatically.

And finally, I wanted consistency in my lighting. 

I felt the flash bracket— although cumbersome — would provide this.

Balancing ambient light vs. flash

Generally, the concept of using a flash during these varied lighting scenarios is simple. You set the camera to expose for the existing ambient light. We all do this naturally anyway. The only difference is that you then use the flash to fill in the subject more. Hmm. Sounds like night photography with light painting to me, only done much quicker!

The aperture remains the same (more or less)

I knew that I wanted to keep the aperture at similar settings. This would create consistency in how softly the background would be in focus. 

Adjusting shutter speeds while the light from the flash remains constant

What is really fun here is that I could use a slow or quick shutter speed to determine the ambient light. However, my flash setting would light the subject by about the same amount. 1/50s? 1/200s? It didn’t matter. This made everything easy. 

Furthermore, even if I used a slow shutter speed, the instant burst of light from the flash would “freeze” the subject so that they wouldn’t be blurry. Cool!

Shaping the light

I decided I would point the flash straight up to reflect light off the ceiling. This would result in a nice even light from above.

Also, I would use a light modifier called a Rogue Flashbender Reflector to direct the light forward as well. I could bend this back or forward as necessary to determine how much light went forward. This setup gave me flexibility. It would also create catchlights in the eyes in almost any configuration.

Fundraiser event photography, Skirball Cultural Center.
Fundraiser event photography, Skirball Cultural Center.

Developing muscle memory

It’s one thing to know how a flash works conceptually. However, it’s quite another to do it. I wanted to achieve sufficient mastery so I wouldn’t need to think about it. The camera and flash had to be an extension of me.

I photographed items around the house two days before the event. The first day, I photographed some products for a Photofocus article. I photographed dark objects, bright objects and more. And I photographed my wife. I used darker rooms, brighter rooms, photographed near a window or doorway and photographed outside. 

The second day, I did all of the above, but wandered in and out of the house very quickly. I became quicker at adjusting or modifying my settings. I had developed muscle memory.

The day of the event

I arrived two hours early. I love arriving early. I love to walk around, look at where I would photograph, determine the light and take a few photos of décor details. 

Fundraiser event photography, Skirball Cultural Center.
Fundraiser event photography, Skirball Cultural Center.

I spoke to the marketing director. She gave me some advice. “You’re not creating art. If the lighting isn’t perfect, it doesn’t matter. What matters is getting the photos of the people.”

I had already heard this advice. However, I must say, it was reassuring to hear this. This was probably especially true for me since almost all the photography I do is for creating art. She pulled me to photograph some prominent people several times. I made certain they were well-lit but took comfort in the fact that they didn’t need to be.

Creating fun

Fortunately, at gala fundraising events, most people want to have their picture taken to show they were there. They expect it. We as photographers can have fun, engage people, be friendly and act like we belong by being confident and dressing appropriately. This is what I did for the next 90 minutes.

Photobombed at event, Skirball.
Getting photobombed by the CEO. And he enlisted one of his buddies for this one! The combination of very bright light and shadow can make photos like this very challenging. Flash photography helps even out the subjects quite a bit.

In fact, several of us had quite a bit of fun. The CEO kept laughing and photobombing me for fun. Another guest invited me to sit at his table. If I had any more fun, I might have felt guilty for getting paid. And all of this also creates more intimate, fun and memorable images.

Fundraiser event photography, Skirball Cultural Center.
Fundraiser event photography, Skirball Cultural Center.

The day after

I had set the final images’ delivery time and method beforehand. All of this, the hours, the general approach to photography and much more need to be set with the client prior to the event.

I prefer “under promising and over delivering.” The client and I had agreed on a time to deliver the photos. I delivered them 24 hours beforehand, completely finished and professionally processed.

How I processed the photos so quickly

Fundraiser event photography, Skirball Cultural Center.
Fundraiser event photography, Skirball Cultural Center.

I could have still delivered the photographs before the deadline using Adobe Lightroom Classic. However, I had read about Imagen in Photofocus. They describe themselves as being able to dramatically speed up workflow using “AI-powered batch photo editing desktop app for Adobe Lightroom Classic workflows” for both Mac and PC. 

To my utter delight, this worked quite well. I submitted almost 100 photos. In the time I walked to the kitchen to get a drink and return, Imagen had finished editing. More importantly, the photos looked great. Although I would have felt more than comfortable delivering the photos edited by Imagen, I tweaked them a little more. I also cropped and straightened them. But Imagen saved me hours of editing (I wrote about my experiences here). The client was very happy with the quality of the photos and the quick turnaround time.

By the way, Imagen offers free editing on your first 1,000 photos (1,500 if you use this link). 

VISIT ME, VISIT ME!

BOOKS AND PRINTS:
Head on over to the Ken Lee Photography website to purchase books or look at night photography and long exposure prints and more.  My books are available there and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Booktopia, Books A Million, IBS, and Aladin. If you enjoy the book, please leave a nice review, thanks!

NIGHTAXIANS VIDEO YOUTUBE PODCAST:

Night photographers Tim Little, Mike Cooper and I all use Pentax gear. We discuss this, gear, adventures, light painting, lenses, night photography, creativity, and more in this ongoing YouTube podcast. Subscribe and watch to the Nightaxians today!

SOCIAL MEDIA:
Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like)
Instagram

PODCAST:
Behind the Shot video podcast – interview February 2020

VIDEO PRESENTATION:

How We Got the Shots: Five Photographers, Five Stories – Night Photo Summit 2022

VIDEO INTERVIEW:

Ken Lee’s Abandoned Trains Planes and Automobiles with Tim Little of Cape Nights Photography
Conversation about night photography and my book with Lance Keimig of National Park At Night

ARTICLES:
A Photographer Captures Haunting Nighttime Images of Abandoned Buildings, Planes, and Cars in the American Southwest – Business Insider by Erin McDowell
A Photographer Explores Southern California’s Desert Ruins – Los Angeles Magazine article by Chris Nichols

 

Our many challenges photographing a bus graveyard at night

We attempted to photograph a bus graveyard. The night photography gods threw up some hurdles. Some were dangerous. These are some of the challenges thrown our way that night.

Nighttime at a mysterious bus graveyard in the middle of the desert.

“It’s like a parking lot here!”

I met up with night photographer Tony Donofrio at the lively Lemon Festival in Upland, CA. Later that evening, we drove to a mysterious bus graveyard hidden away in the desert. The freeways were clogged. The last of them involved killing our engines for 20 minutes and sitting on a freeway as emergency vehicles kept trying to inch past everyone.

An hour commute became two. Tony and I felt that if we had known about this traffic, we might have hung out the remainder of the evening at the Lemon Festival instead.

Gas station sandwiches

We realized that we would not be able to eat at the restaurant as planned. It was already dark, and we had planned on getting there while there was still light. We grabbed some pre-packaged gas station sandwiches and ate them en route.

“Where’s Tony?”

I arrived at the bus graveyard. I quickly changed my pants before Tony’s headlights would reveal my indecent exposure. However, he didn’t show up. I called. He had stopped about a quarter mile away. He was concerned that his car would get stuck on the rough dirt road. I went back to get him.

Night photo of an abandoned school bus with the emergency door missing.

“My camera’s dead!”

I had just put a battery in my Nikon D750 camera. To my surprise, the screen suddenly showed a message that I had to reset the clock. That was surprising. I had never seen that happen before. Furthermore, none of the buttons worked. The camera was completely unresponsive.

I changed batteries and lenses, all with the same result. After 20 minutes, I gave up and began using my other camera, the Pentax K-1 with the 28-105mm lens. I would not be able to photograph with the fisheye, which was my intent. I was, however, quite disturbed by this because I had to do event photography in a few days.

Night photo of abandoned passenger bus.

Stepping on a nail

The photography gods weren’t quite done with me yet. Right after putting away my non-functioning camera, I walked around a shadowy area. Suddenly, I stepped on a nail. This went through my shoe. I could feel the nail on the bottom of my right foot! I immediately felt that something was wrong, so I stopped. A wooden board was stuck to my shoe! I carefully pried it off with my other foot.

However, because I had not put my weight down, the nail never punctured my skin. I immediately went back to the car and put on boots with steel-shank soles. 

Night photo of abandoned passenger bus.

Meanwhile, on the other side …

While I was having my challenges, Tony’s photoshoot was going well. Mostly. However, he had a near scrape himself. He was lighting the interior of a bus while walking slowly backward down the center aisle. After about 10 feet, he turned around with his light. With a jolt, he realized that the center floor access panel was no longer there! One more step and he would have fallen through!

Night photo of abandoned passenger bus.

Now, the good news

After the nail, I managed to get in a creative flow. Thankfully, that seems to occur quickly and naturally. I was happy with the process and the results.

Furthermore, I was able to resuscitate the unresponsive camera, the Nikon D750. After leaving the battery in for a while, the camera became responsive again. The camera clock is powered by an independent, rechargeable power source. This is charged when the main battery is installed. When I got home, I left the battery in. After this, it seemed to work fine. The camera worked without issue for the event

The continuing mysteries are this. I had only left the main battery out for three days. However, my camera repairman says that this is long enough to create this problem. Strange. And also what I don’t know is why the camera seized up and was completely non-responsive.

VISIT ME, VISIT ME!

BOOKS AND PRINTS:
Head on over to the Ken Lee Photography website to purchase books or look at night photography and long exposure prints and more.  My books are available there and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Booktopia, Books A Million, IBS, and Aladin. If you enjoy the book, please leave a nice review, thanks!

NIGHTAXIANS VIDEO YOUTUBE PODCAST:

Night photographers Tim Little, Mike Cooper and I all use Pentax gear. We discuss this, gear, adventures, light painting, lenses, night photography, creativity, and more in this ongoing YouTube podcast. Subscribe and watch to the Nightaxians today!

SOCIAL MEDIA:
Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like)
Instagram

PODCAST:
Behind the Shot video podcast – interview February 2020

VIDEO PRESENTATION:

How We Got the Shots: Five Photographers, Five Stories – Night Photo Summit 2022

VIDEO INTERVIEW:

Ken Lee’s Abandoned Trains Planes and Automobiles with Tim Little of Cape Nights Photography
Conversation about night photography and my book with Lance Keimig of National Park At Night

ARTICLES:
A Photographer Captures Haunting Nighttime Images of Abandoned Buildings, Planes, and Cars in the American Southwest – Business Insider by Erin McDowell
A Photographer Explores Southern California’s Desert Ruins – Los Angeles Magazine article by Chris Nichols

 

Photographing Jimmy Page and Jack White: Creating your own opportunities

I met and photographed Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and Jack White of … well, all sorts of things. To do this, I had to make it happen. Here’s how I managed to do so.

It never hurts to ask

In 2009, my friend Christal Smith announced on Facebook, “So excited! I am going to be interviewing Jimmy Page and Jack White!” Excited, I mentioned this to my girlfriend. “I’d like to photograph them!”

“She works for The Huffington Post. They have their own photographers. And you just have that little cheap camera.”

“Sure. But I want to photograph them anyway.”

I immediately asked, “Christal, please let me know if you need a photographer. I would love to do this.” She messaged me minutes later. “Actually, I could use a photographer. I don’t have one yet. I can get you in.”

Bam. It was done.

It might get loud

Director Davis Guggenheim filmed a documentary movie, “It Might Get Loud,” featuring Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White hanging out and playing music together. The movie was really, really good.

I’m usually not in fanboy mode. However, this was Jimmy Page, one of my favorite guitarists. Led Zeppelin is one of my favorite bands. Furthermore, Page was notoriously reclusive. But now … now I was going to photograph them at a press conference!

Scotch tape, the diffuser for the rest of us

Davis Guggenheim and Jimmy Page.

I had a very modest camera, a Nikon D50 6.1MP camera I had purchased used in 2005. And I didn’t have a speedlight — only the built-in pop-up flash on the D50. I wondered if I would be able to get decent photos with such a horrible flash. 

I stuck several layers of Scotch tape over the pop-up flash diffuser. Then I taped a piece of white paper on top to bounce more light. It wouldn’t look great, but it would provide a look that was slightly better. I repeatedly checked my camera far too often to make sure it was working.

This was 2009. It would be years before I became obsessed with night photography, before National Geographic, before Smithsonian. Years before I would have any clue of what I was doing. But I was going to make this work somehow.

Hanging out with the other journalists

I got there early and sat with some other journalists. One journalist mentioned that he couldn’t sleep at all the night before. This was incredible. Here were seasoned journalists. And they were nervous! I wasn’t alone!

The journalist asked me if I could take a photo with him and Jimmy if the opportunity arose (it didn’t). Everyone was genuinely excited. The energy was palpable. I was twitching with nervous energy.

The other journalists and I talked about our favorite scenes from “It Might Get Loud.” I especially loved the scene in Jimmy Page’s home where he lovingly took out a Link Wray record from his very large record collection. He put it on the turntable. He then smiled profusely while playing “air guitar” to every strum and tremolo. “Wobbles,” he called them. Page, still ever a music fan. Perfect.

Jack White

I’m too far away!

Jimmy Page

Eventually, the press conference began. We were seated. Jimmy Page, Jack White and Davis Guggenheim came in and sat behind a long table.

However, I was too far away. I was sitting in the fourth row. However, it felt like it was far away. And my wimpy little pop-up flash covered in Scotch tape wasn’t reaching that far. It was woefully underpowered.

Jimmy Page

As a kid, I had learned that if you act like you know what you’re doing, people often do not say anything. I promptly got up, strode over confidently and sat on the floor, right in front as if I did this all the time. 

This was working! My horrible pop-up flash was no longer holding me back. Sure, I was getting shadows in back from my on-camera flash because the wall was very close. However, I didn’t care. I was going to keep photographing until either the press conference was over or security commandeered my camera. I’d get The Huffington Post those photos. 

Wait, there’s more?

After half an hour, the press conference was over. They left. I was elated. I had managed to kneel next to the front row for the entire press conference, shooting photos unimpeded. A big smile crept across my face. This was a good day.

Outside, however, Christal was upset. “We’re not on the list for the one-on-one!” 

“One-on-one? An interview?” I had no idea.

“Yes, we’re supposed to have a one-on-one interview with the three of them, but my name’s not on the list!”

We asked several organizers. “The Huffington Post doesn’t usually do press conferences,” Christal pointed out, “so we won’t be able to do an article.”

Four minutes and forty five seconds

One woman who seemed to know and respect Christal, said, “I’ll get you in for five minutes. But just five minutes!”

“We’ll do it in 4:45,” Christal said, “I’ve been on both sides of this. We’ll be out of there in 4:45.” They knew Christal, and knew that she would be good to her word.

I could not believe my luck. I hadn’t even known about this several minutes ago!

Christal Smith interviewing Jimmy Page one-on-one.

Interviewing Jimmy Page and Jack White

Mere minutes later, we entered the room. Everyone was fussing with the microphones, doing things. “Hello gentlemen,” I said.

Jimmy turned to me and said, “Did ya take a picture?” 

“Yes, yes, I did, thanks.” I had managed to because I had snuck up front.

“I saw you in the fourth row, it didn’t look like you took photos,” he said.  

I was incredulous. How did he notice that? I had indeed been in the fourth row! This was because I had been sitting in front of the first row for almost the entire time until returning to my seat when we were all asked to take photos row by row.

Fanboy mode. Jimmy Page, me and Jack White.

Christal and I couldn’t help ourselves. We took photos with Jimmy and Jack really quickly before Christal got on with the interview. Journalistic professionalism had been cast aside. This was Jimmy Page.

And we were out in 4:45 minutes, just as Christal had promised.

Jimmy Page, Christal Smith and Jack White.

And being ever responsible, I raced back and worked the second half of the day. Sure, I bailed from work that morning. But seriously … wouldn’t you?

Make your own breaks

I had no idea what I was doing, and I had a 6.1MP camera with a pop-up flash. “6.1MP” is not a typo. The images were so small that I had to enlarge one or two portrait-oriented photos for this article. Despite this, I managed to get photos of Jimmy Page and Jack White in The Huffington Post (you can see the article here). I processed them in GIMP using a nine year-old computer running Windows XP with a cheap flat-screen monitor I had gotten for free. 

You may not have high-end equipment. However, you can find a way to make it happen.

If I hadn’t asked, I would have never had the opportunity. If I hadn’t strode up front and plopped myself down, I would have never gotten any photos. If I hadn’t modified my pop-up flash with three layers of Scotch tape and a strip of white lined paper I borrowed from a journalist, the light would have been too harsh.

Sometimes, you need to make your own breaks. I hope you, as a photographer, you as a human being, also seize the moment. We never know if we will have these opportunities again.

VISIT ME, VISIT ME!

BOOKS AND PRINTS:
Head on over to the Ken Lee Photography website to purchase books or look at night photography and long exposure prints and more.  My books are available there and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Booktopia, Books A Million, IBS, and Aladin. If you enjoy the book, please leave a nice review, thanks!

NIGHTAXIANS VIDEO YOUTUBE PODCAST:

Night photographers Tim Little, Mike Cooper and I all use Pentax gear. We discuss this, gear, adventures, light painting, lenses, night photography, creativity, and more in this ongoing YouTube podcast. Subscribe and watch to the Nightaxians today!

SOCIAL MEDIA:
Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like)
Instagram

PODCAST:
Behind the Shot video podcast – interview February 2020

VIDEO PRESENTATION:

How We Got the Shots: Five Photographers, Five Stories – Night Photo Summit 2022

VIDEO INTERVIEW:

Ken Lee’s Abandoned Trains Planes and Automobiles with Tim Little of Cape Nights Photography
Conversation about night photography and my book with Lance Keimig of National Park At Night

ARTICLES:
A Photographer Captures Haunting Nighttime Images of Abandoned Buildings, Planes, and Cars in the American Southwest – Business Insider by Erin McDowell
A Photographer Explores Southern California’s Desert Ruins – Los Angeles Magazine article by Chris Nichols

 

How to fix tilted photos without cropping in Photoshop

Have you ever tried straightening a tilted photo? Typically, you must crop the photo since it leaves empty space. However, Photoshop can fill in those empty spaces realistically. Here’s how to straighten the horizon without cropping.

Drummer of The Convertibles playing at a 4th of July concert at the Nora Ross Bandshell in Woodland Hills, California. I photographed this quickly. It was a little crooked. However, I was able to straighten it without losing the edges or empty spaces, keeping the crop the same.

Content-Aware Crop

Content-Aware Crop automates filling in empty space after cropping. This can occur when you are trying to fix a crooked horizon line in an image.

Ordinarily, you would straighten the horizon line by rotating the image while keeping the same crop. However, this leaves empty spaces. Often, you need to go in manually and fill in these empty spaces via cloning or a content-aware tool.

Content-Aware Crop alleviates that by automatically filling in the empty spaces in the image. This can be a minimal fill. However, if you pulled the edges out, you could fill in more room. More on that later.

Straightening an image using Content-Aware Crop

Step 1: Select the Crop Tool 

Selecting the Crop Tool at left.

The Crop Tool is located on the left side. Then click anywhere in the photo to enable the grid. It typically defaults to thirds, as shown below.

Clicking on the image to produce the grid.

Step 2: Select Content-Aware and Straighten

These are located in the Option menu on the top left corner. 

Step 3: Draw a line across the horizon you want straightened

Selecting the Straighten Icon, you can draw a line across the horizon to let Photoshop know how you want it straightened. It’s intuitive and easy.

Since you selected the Straighten icon, you can draw a line across the horizon. This will let Photoshop know what you want straightened.

Photoshop will straighten your photo. After a few seconds, it will also fill in any empty spaces.

Moments after I release the horizon line I’ve drawn, Photoshop straightens the horizon. A few seconds later, it will fill in the empty spaces as well!
Like magic! Photoshop’s Content-Aware Crop has now filled in the empty spaces. That looks realistic. I chose to clone out the leaves in the upper left corner but left everything else alone. I later decided that it looked good in black and white. Other than that, I was done. And it only took about 10 seconds to straighten the horizon and let Photoshop fill in the empty spaces!

Step 4: Fix anything in the filled areas that looks odd

Often, Photoshop will fill in the corners quite satisfactorily. However, sometimes, it will add something that you don’t want to have. Simply select the Lasso Tool. Draw a line around the area that you want changed. Then use the Clone Stamp or Content-Aware Fill to do the rest.

Bonus tip: Creating more space in a cramped image

If you want the Content-Aware Crop Tool to add a little more space to a cramped image, start out the same way as above. But this time, grab one of the corners or sides and drag it to where you want more space. The Content-Aware Crop Tool will attempt to fill in this space for you.

Remember that Photoshop is generating part of a new image to fill in these empty spaces. The more you drag out the border, the greater the chance that Photoshop begins generating odd graphics. As you might suspect, Photoshop is best when it works in corner areas with consistent colors or patterns. It generally does very well in filling in skies (with or without clouds), grass, sand or continuing patterns. 

Please let me know how this works for you in the comments section. Also, if you have developed a different workflow for straightening horizon lines while filling in the empty spaces, please share that as well!

VISIT ME, VISIT ME!

BOOKS AND PRINTS:
Head on over to the Ken Lee Photography website to purchase books or look at night photography and long exposure prints and more.  My books are available there and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Booktopia, Books A Million, IBS, and Aladin. If you enjoy the book, please leave a nice review, thanks!

NIGHTAXIANS VIDEO YOUTUBE PODCAST:

Night photographers Tim Little, Mike Cooper and I all use Pentax gear. We discuss this, gear, adventures, light painting, lenses, night photography, creativity, and more in this ongoing YouTube podcast. Subscribe and watch to the Nightaxians today!

SOCIAL MEDIA:
Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like)
Instagram

PODCAST:
Behind the Shot video podcast – interview February 2020

VIDEO PRESENTATION:

How We Got the Shots: Five Photographers, Five Stories – Night Photo Summit 2022

VIDEO INTERVIEW:

Ken Lee’s Abandoned Trains Planes and Automobiles with Tim Little of Cape Nights Photography
Conversation about night photography and my book with Lance Keimig of National Park At Night

ARTICLES:
A Photographer Captures Haunting Nighttime Images of Abandoned Buildings, Planes, and Cars in the American Southwest – Business Insider by Erin McDowell
A Photographer Explores Southern California’s Desert Ruins – Los Angeles Magazine article by Chris Nichols

 

Aung San Suu Kyi: The frightening story behind this photo

I photographed Aung San Suu Kyi in summer 2000 in Burma (Myanmar). At the time, it was extremely rare for Westerners to see her, much less meet and photograph her. This is the surprising and frightening story behind the photo.

Who is Aung San Suu Kyi?

Aung San Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, leader of the National League for Democracy, and the democratically elected leader of Myanmar. Her father, General Aung San, was the first leader of Burma’s independence movement and was assassinated in 1947.

Incredibly, she later was elected State Counselor of Myanmar. Since then, she came under fire internationally for her treatment of the Muslim Rohingya minority. She was then deposed by a military coup in 2021 and sentenced to jail.

 A chance meeting in Burma (Myanmar)

Aung San Suu Kyi, Yangon, Burma (Myanmar). Photographed with a Nikon N70 SLR camera, summer 2000. Scanned from 3×5″ print using a Canon Canoscan 8600F.

I traveled to Burma with my girlfriend Lisa and a friend named Paula in summer 2000. We were in the capital city of Yangon. We were returning from the Martyrs Day events at the Arzani Mausoleum commemorating General Aung San’s death. Along the way, we saw a large crowd outside a building adorned with large red banners with Burmese words and English words saying “National League for Democracy.” Intrigued, we wandered over. They told us that Aung San Suu Kyi would be arriving in 15 minutes!

A rare opportunity

Aung San Suu Kyi had previously been under house arrest for six years. At the time we met her, she had limited freedom and could not leave Yangon. 

The crowd enthusiastically waved us in. They led us to some white resin seats just behind ambassadors from the United States, Britain, and Japan. We sat in front of members of the international press. However, we noticed that many cameras warily followed our every move.

Aung San Suu Kyi arrives

“The Lady” arrived to much commotion. Several speakers gave speeches in Burmese. They also handed us some Burmese literature. We managed to talk to Aung San Suu Kyi briefly — an incredible opportunity, given her limited freedom. She scanned all of us and said, “You are very brave for coming here.”

After the meeting, the gravity of our situation continued to sink in. We walked out with one of the U.S. embassy employees to make ourselves feel safer. “I have no control over what happens here,” he had said. “We have no diplomatic relationship with this country.” We knew that, nodding glumly. As we exited the meeting, many people with cameras started taking photos of us. Their cameras followed us ominously as we walked.

“We’re being followed!!”

We quickly flagged down a taxi. However, a man in a white car followed our every turn. We changed directions several times, but the car continued following. Lisa and Paula commented that this was just like some sort of bad movie. However, this was real life. 

Our taxi driver was visibly nervous. We finally asked the terrified driver to drop us off at the U.S. Embassy. We eagerly scrambled inside to report to the Marine on duty that we were being followed. He replied, remaining stoic, telling us that others had reported being followed before.

We sat for a while in the Embassy. I was so nervous that my right leg was jittering, bouncing up and down involuntarily. After some minutes, we left the Embassy. The man in the white car was still there. He rolled behind us on the street slowly, ominously. 

Mixed drinks and burgers to calm our nerves

We decided to walk to an expensive hotel called The Strand. There, we ordered mixed drinks and burgers to calm our nerves. For some reason, we also felt that they might not come in there. And they didn’t.

After feeling calmer, we walked back out, looking around. We no longer saw the white car. Where was he? Why did he drive off? Were others following? We walked the wrong way down one-way streets and traipsed through stores to exit the back side, trying to make certain that we were no longer being followed.

“Surely they’re on to us!”

The next day, Paula left. However, her phone call from Singapore several hours later. We thought the hotel phones might be bugged. Therefore, we had created a sort of “code” so that Paula could impart what had happened. And what she said left us in shock. The airport officials, who had her name on a list, had searched her belongings. They confiscated all her film, books and cassettes. Luckily, she was allowed to go.

We were to leave by plane the following day.

But we thought, “If the Burmese military identified her, surely they’re on to us!”

Hiding our rolls of film

I wanted to leave Burma with at least a few rolls of our film. I purchased 10 rolls of film. Then, I shot one or two pictures in each before rewinding the film. I then placed these rolls in my lead-lined bag as a decoy. Lisa and I hid the rest of the film in every crevice of our backpacks, including dirty socks, aspirin bottles, shirts, shoes, artwork. I even jammed a roll in each of my shoes, which caused great pain as the day wore on. One of the rolls in my shoe contained this photo of Aung San Suu Kyi.

“What if they get really upset that we’re hiding this?” Lisa asked. But still we did it. We had nothing of value, nothing inflammatory, and felt odd to hide such innocuous photos from the military. I locked my backpack several different ways and hoped for the best.

Our nervous wait at the airport

Still completely dark, we arrived early that morning at the dimly-lit airport. We checked our luggage in and sat nervously in the waiting room for two hours watching Bon Jovi videos play on their large screen. We couldn’t relax until the plane had lifted off the ground. This was one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard.

“You have no idea how happy we are to be in India!” I exclaimed to the Indian immigration official.

A short window of time that we could have met her

A month after we left Myanmar, the military prevented Aung San Suu Kyi from going to an NLD youth rally only 30 km from Yangon. Aung San Suu Kyi remained in her car for about 11 days — the fourth such stand-off in the last 10 years — before finally being forced to return to her house. The military then raided the NLD headquarters, carting away documents. We had somehow met her in this small window of time. 

You may find out more about my 2000 trip to Burma and India here.

VISIT ME, VISIT ME!

BOOKS AND PRINTS:
Head on over to the Ken Lee Photography website to purchase books or look at night photography and long exposure prints and more.  My books are available there and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Booktopia, Books A Million, IBS, and Aladin. If you enjoy the book, please leave a nice review, thanks!

NIGHTAXIANS VIDEO YOUTUBE PODCAST:

Night photographers Tim Little, Mike Cooper and I all use Pentax gear. We discuss this, gear, adventures, light painting, lenses, night photography, creativity, and more in this ongoing YouTube podcast. Subscribe and watch to the Nightaxians today!

SOCIAL MEDIA:
Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like)
Instagram

PODCAST:
Behind the Shot video podcast – interview February 2020

VIDEO PRESENTATION:

How We Got the Shots: Five Photographers, Five Stories – Night Photo Summit 2022

VIDEO INTERVIEW:

Ken Lee’s Abandoned Trains Planes and Automobiles with Tim Little of Cape Nights Photography
Conversation about night photography and my book with Lance Keimig of National Park At Night

ARTICLES:
A Photographer Captures Haunting Nighttime Images of Abandoned Buildings, Planes, and Cars in the American Southwest – Business Insider by Erin McDowell
A Photographer Explores Southern California’s Desert Ruins – Los Angeles Magazine article by Chris Nichols

 

Software grab bag: Six post-processing apps that can help you now

What are some software post-processing apps that can help you now? I’ll list a few of the ones I find the most useful. Hopefully they can help you too!

Perspective Efex

Perspective Efex screenshot
Perspective Efex in action, straightening a church.

DxO’s Perspective Efex is part of the fantastic Nik Collection. The collection includes very useful items like Detail, Super Contrast, Tonal Contrast, Viveza, and the gold standard of black and white conversion, Silver Efex Pro

This program also allows you to correct geometric distortion easily. It does so either automatically or manually in an intuitive, powerful, and quick manner. 

Furthermore, it has a very compelling tilt-shift miniaturization effect that I absolutely love. It is capable of producing a very shallow depth of field and beautiful bokeh. Read about Perspective Efex in more detail here.

Night photo of church, straightened by Perspective Efex.
Night photo of church, straightened by Perspective Efex.

Topaz Labs DeNoise AI

Topaz Labs Denoise AI, showing a 4-panel comparison.
Topaz Labs Denoise AI, showing a 4-panel comparison.

I cannot say enough nice things about this magical noise reduction software. Night photographers often have to contend with low-noise high-ISO images. Topaz Labs DeNoise AI tackles this admirably almost all of the time via machine learning. And it always seems to get even more capable with each new version. 

DeNoise AI differentiates between noise and stars or other details well almost all the time. It also has sharpening features that keep details and sharpness intact. This is my go-to plugin for denoising. Read more about Topaz Labs DeNoise AI here.

Lightroom Classic

Lightroom Classic was able to select the automobile in seconds.
Lightroom Classic was able to select the automobile in seconds.

I used Photoshop for years, only using Lightroom in the past few years. But the features that Adobe have rolled out in Lightroom Classic in the last few years are impressive. 

You can choose Select Subject or Select Sky. These do exactly what you think they do, selecting the subject or sky for you. These are extremely quick and useful, saving you quite a bit of time. You may read more about using these selection features in Lightroom Classic here.

Night photo of abandoned vehicle in desert.
Night photo of abandoned vehicle in desert.

Lumenzia

Lumenzia screenshot selecting sky.
Lumenzia creating a luminosity mask of the night sky outside. I can lighten or darken the sky or apply denoising just for the sky if I wish. Being able to select specific areas of the image is powerful, and with Lumenzia, it’s quite easy and fast.

Lumenzia allow you to work with luminosity masks. This gives you selective control quickly and easily, customizing different areas of your image. You may do selective dodging and burning of particular tones or colors.

But you can do much more. You may sharpen, apply noise reduction, or many other things to specific parts of the photo. I sometimes target denoising the sky or shadow areas with Lumenzia

The interface is easy. Greg Benz also provides a lot of free video tutorials, making it so anyone can use this. He also seems to issue quite a few updates that offer additional functionality while still keeping the interface simple. I use Lumenzia on almost every single photo.

The inside of an abandoned historic wooden WWII airplane hangar.
The inside of an abandoned historic wooden World War II airplane hangar.

Luminar Neo

An abandoned jail in a Southwestern ghost town.
An abandoned jail in a Southwestern ghost town.

I use Luminar Neo or sometimes Luminar 4, and, well, I am not sure how to explain why I love it so much. Luminar can add quite a bit of detail with this, and I like the way it handles color. The program also provides the ability to gently adjust skin tone, eyes, and such easily. 

It has several other filters that I find useful. I like the Glow feature, where I can apply a slight Orton effect. The Mystical filter is also useful. This provides a dreamy look by softening luminescence while increasing the contrast and saturation while adding a slight glow. I use this very gently with some photos. I wrote about Luminar Neo, comparing it to LuminarAI.

Imagen

A screenshot allowing you to choose between AI profiles in Imagen.

Imagen, formerly known as ImagenAI, is another software that I will describe as magical. They describe themselves as “AI-powered batch photo editing desktop app for Adobe Lightroom Classic workflows” for both Mac and PC. And they’re not using “one size fits all” presets either, but true processing. And this is exactly what it is, quickly, efficiently, and easily. The quality is phenomenal. 

And yes, you can tweak them more in Lightroom and beyond if you wish. But the results are already extremely professional looking. They saved me many hours of time when I photographed a high-profile event, editing 100 photos in five minutes. What’s more, the first 1,000 edits are free (1,500 free edits if you use this link). 

VISIT ME, VISIT ME!

BOOKS AND PRINTS:
Head on over to the Ken Lee Photography website to purchase books or look at night photography and long exposure prints and more.  My books are available there and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Booktopia, Books A Million, IBS, and Aladin. If you enjoy the book, please leave a nice review, thanks!

NIGHTAXIANS VIDEO YOUTUBE PODCAST:

Night photographers Tim Little, Mike Cooper and I all use Pentax gear. We discuss this, gear, adventures, light painting, lenses, night photography, creativity, and more in this ongoing YouTube podcast. Subscribe and watch to the Nightaxians today!

SOCIAL MEDIA:
Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like)
Instagram

PODCAST:
Behind the Shot video podcast – interview February 2020

VIDEO PRESENTATION:

How We Got the Shots: Five Photographers, Five Stories – Night Photo Summit 2022

VIDEO INTERVIEW:

Ken Lee’s Abandoned Trains Planes and Automobiles with Tim Little of Cape Nights Photography
Conversation about night photography and my book with Lance Keimig of National Park At Night

ARTICLES:
A Photographer Captures Haunting Nighttime Images of Abandoned Buildings, Planes, and Cars in the American Southwest – Business Insider by Erin McDowell
A Photographer Explores Southern California’s Desert Ruins – Los Angeles Magazine article by Chris Nichols

 

Announcing the 2023 Nightscaper Conference!

National Parks at Night has just announced the 2023 Nightscaper Conference. It’s perfect timing for the 2023 Milky Way season! Here’s all the information!

Capitol Reef National Park at night.
Capitol Reef National Park at night.

About the Nightscaper Conference

Nightscaper Conference 2023
Nightscaper Conference 2023

Royce Bair created this community some years ago. National Parks at night began collaborating with him in early 2021. The first conference was held in 2019. The conference became a popular in-person event devoted to astro-landscape photographers, scientists, artists and activists who wish to enjoy and preserve the night skies. 

Arches National Park at night.

The conference features Milky Way photographers, scientists, conservation groups and more. It attracts about 300 enthusiasts of all sorts. Beginning and seasoned photographers alike will be interested in this.

Due to health concerns, the Nightscaper Conference was postponed to May 2023.

Where is the Nightscaper Conference?

The conference will be live and in-person in Kanab, UT, near Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It’s also in reasonably close proximity to Bryce, Capitol Reef and Grand Canyon National Parks and other amazing public lands.

When is the Nightscaper Conference?


Save Our Stars - activism at Nightscaper Conference
Save Our Stars – activism at Nightscaper Conference

The 2023 conference will be held in the heart of the new moon week, May 18-21 2023.

The daytime conference leaves plenty of room for going out at night with speakers, as well as with friends new and old. Several speakers will also be offering local workshops before and after the conference as well! You can immerse yourself in this experience in one of the best dark sky areas to photograph in the world.

The Nightscaper conference lasts for four days. Each day’s activities begin in the late morning to accommodate those who were out shooting the night before. Daily lunches are included, as well as one dinner.

Who are the presenters?

The presenters will of course include Royce Bair. Also, there will be Jess Santos, MaryBeth Kiczenski, Matt Hill, Bryony Richards, Joshua Snow, Tim Cooper, Mike Shaw, Gabriel Biderman, Dr. Kah-Wai Lin, Paul Ziska, Lance Keimig, Chris Nicholson, and many more.

Where is the Nightscaper Conference?

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument at night.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument at night.

The conference will be live and in-person in Kanab, UT, near Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It’s also in reasonably close proximity to Bryce, Capitol Reef and Grand Canyon National Parks and other amazing public lands.

Tickets for the Nightscaper Conference

Tickets are on sale now. Nightscaper Conference is offering Conference (in-person) + Replays tickets for those who can travel or Replays-only for those who cannot travel but still want all that education and inspiration. These are offered as limited-time Early Bird tickets. Click here to register for the conference.

Goblin Valley at night.
Goblin Valley at night.

What is National Parks at Night?

National Parks at Night hold night photography workshops that provide top-shelf education both in the classroom and in the field, and are arguably the best in the world at doing so. Also, they have an extremely informative blog. And they also have held two Night Photo Summit virtual conferences. I am honored to have been a presenter for one of them.

VISIT ME, VISIT ME!

BOOKS AND PRINTS:
Head on over to the Ken Lee Photography website to purchase books or look at night photography and long exposure prints and more.  My books are available there and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Booktopia, Books A Million, IBS, and Aladin. If you enjoy the book, please leave a nice review, thanks!

NIGHTAXIANS VIDEO YOUTUBE PODCAST:

Night photographers Tim Little, Mike Cooper and I all use Pentax gear. We discuss this, gear, adventures, light painting, lenses, night photography, creativity, and more in this ongoing YouTube podcast. Subscribe and watch to the Nightaxians today!

SOCIAL MEDIA:
Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like)
Instagram

PODCAST:
Behind the Shot video podcast – interview February 2020

VIDEO PRESENTATION:

How We Got the Shots: Five Photographers, Five Stories – Night Photo Summit 2022

VIDEO INTERVIEW:

Ken Lee’s Abandoned Trains Planes and Automobiles with Tim Little of Cape Nights Photography
Conversation about night photography and my book with Lance Keimig of National Park At Night

ARTICLES:
A Photographer Captures Haunting Nighttime Images of Abandoned Buildings, Planes, and Cars in the American Southwest – Business Insider by Erin McDowell
A Photographer Explores Southern California’s Desert Ruins – Los Angeles Magazine article by Chris Nichols

 

Light Painting 101: How to light a historic abandoned wooden hangar

After gazing upon this enormous historic abandoned wooden hangar, here’s how I decided to light all these fantastic geometric shapes to create depth and interest. It took a lot of running around!

Historic World War II hangar

Upon driving up to the abandoned wooden hangar, we were in awe. The structure inspired awe despite its decay. The hangar housed B-24 Liberator bombers, two of which crashed within an hour of each other, among other accidents. This led some to believe the airfield to be cursed.

The interior of a World War II hangar

However, this evening was definitely not cursed. We were able to get many photos. This particular photo, however, is a hidden photo I discovered while cleaning out the “digital attic,” so I thought I’d share it with you.

Four steps to light painting the wooden hangar

I felt that the geometric shapes, enormous overhead beams, and windows could create some interesting symmetry. I wanted my light painting to support that and define some of the edges to create interest. Here’s how I did it.

Step one: Creating contrast on the walls

I ran over to camera left. I stood close to the wall and skimmed a warm white light across the wall. 

Step two: Balancing that contrast on the other side

After that, I ran over to the right side of the wall. I basically did the same thing but to the right. I don’t always do this. However, what I was trying to create were shadows converging toward the middle. I also wanted relatively even illumination. This accomplished that.

Step three: Rimming the windows

I thought it would be interesting to rim the upper part of the windows. I ran outside. I used the same warm white light to illuminate everything from far away so that it would create a glow around the top of the windows. This would create more interest and depth.

Step four: Illuminating the large beams

I wanted to create an interesting pattern with the shadows of the immense beams holding the ceiling up. I stepped as far back as I could while still being inside and swept the upper part of the ceiling. This also defined the wooden roof more, as this otherwise would have been completely in shadow as well.

Other approaches to photographing the hangar

Abandoned World War II wooden hangar at night. I used a fisheye and light painted this with a vivid red light. Note the beautiful shadow play on the floor, created by the rising moon.

I photographed this hangar using various other approaches. It was easily one of my favorite structures I’ve photographed, offering inspiration and many interesting lines.

Here are a few more photos from the same evening. You can see how illuminating them with light painting can create many different moods.

The hangar is still abandoned. However, it is no longer accessible to the public in an effort to preserve it from vandals. I feel blessed to have been able to photograph it when I did.

Abandoned World War II wooden hangar at night with the incredible Milky Way overhead, shortly before the moon rose.

I used the above photo to try to describe what the Milky Way really looks like in person.

The back of an abandoned World War II wooden hangar at night.

VISIT ME, VISIT ME!

BOOKS AND PRINTS:
Head on over to the Ken Lee Photography website to purchase books or look at night photography and long exposure prints and more.  My books are available there and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Booktopia, Books A Million, IBS, and Aladin. If you enjoy the book, please leave a nice review, thanks!

NIGHTAXIANS VIDEO YOUTUBE PODCAST:

Night photographers Tim Little, Mike Cooper and I all use Pentax gear. We discuss this, gear, adventures, light painting, lenses, night photography, creativity, and more in this ongoing YouTube podcast. Subscribe and watch to the Nightaxians today!

SOCIAL MEDIA:
Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like)
Instagram

PODCAST:
Behind the Shot video podcast – interview February 2020

VIDEO PRESENTATION:

How We Got the Shots: Five Photographers, Five Stories – Night Photo Summit 2022

VIDEO INTERVIEW:

Ken Lee’s Abandoned Trains Planes and Automobiles with Tim Little of Cape Nights Photography
Conversation about night photography and my book with Lance Keimig of National Park At Night

ARTICLES:
A Photographer Captures Haunting Nighttime Images of Abandoned Buildings, Planes, and Cars in the American Southwest – Business Insider by Erin McDowell
A Photographer Explores Southern California’s Desert Ruins – Los Angeles Magazine article by Chris Nichols

 

ISO made easy: Understanding your ISO settings

ISO allows you to increase the brightness of your image. Let’s help you find out more about ISO.

A handy ISO cheat sheet chart.

What is ISO?

ISO is sort of like volume control for listening to music. If there’s not much signal — in this case, light — you increase the brightness of your image by amplifying the signal.

Film was rated by ISO, too. However, we can now adjust the camera’s sensitivity whenever we want instead of having to change rolls of film! The higher the ISO number, the more sensitive to light our camera is. An ISO of 100 is not very sensitive. An ISO of 6400 is very sensitive.

When should I change my ISO?

We change ISO based on the scene at hand. Generally speaking, the darker the scene, the more we can consider increasing the ISO. If there is a lot of movement in a dark setting, we may want to make our ISO even higher so we can use a higher shutter speed so moving subjects don’t have as much blur. We can also use a flash to help “freeze” the movement.

What ISO setting should I use?

Generally speaking, you want to use the lowest ISO possible. Why? This will give you the “cleanest” images. This means that there is less “noise” in the images. Some might say that a cleaner image looks less “grainy.”  Let’s look at some examples!

Low ISO settings: It’s bright!

It’s bright out! No need for a super-sensitive ISO setting! A low ISO of around 100 or 200 is perfect here.

For bright scenes such as day landscape photos, day portraits, or sports during the day, you would typically use a low ISO settings. This might be ISO 100, 200 or 400, depending on the light and shadow and time of day.

Medium ISO settings

I would choose to use a medium ISO setting of about ISO 800 or so here, although I did manage to use ISO 640 because I had a flash go off.

For scenes that have less light, such as later in the day, in the shade, or in bright indoors settings, we might raise the ISO to a medium ISO setting, such as around ISO 800 or 1000. As with all settings, adjust this until you get a strong exposure with a lot of information.

High ISO settings — not too much light right now!

ISO 4000 during a 20-second exposure at night because starlight is not very bright.

You might use these for very low light settings, such as nighttime, dark indoors, concerts, plays, lower-light sports, and other events. This could be from ISO 1600 and up. 

Remember, the higher the ISO, the more noise you might have in your images. However, I’d rather have a noisy image than a blurry image (unless I want blur, of course). Many modern cameras and even phones can take surprisingly clean photos in low light. There’s also software that can help you lower the amount of noise while still retaining detail.

Concert photography. I would never use a flash this close to a performer here. Since he was moving around, I used ISO 1600, a relatively high ISO setting, to “freeze” him in place and prevent blur.

Should I use Auto ISO?

The short answer is “it depends.” Auto ISO allows the camera to choose the best ISO for a particular situation. It makes this decision for you depending on what lens you are using, how much available light there is, and what your shutter speed is. Conveniently, it does this from picture to picture!

There are some scenarios in which you could consider using Auto ISO. I would consider using it if your light is unpredictable and keeps changing, you are constantly wandering in and out, or you are photographing rapidly and don’t want to keep adjusting. A camera’s Auto ISO options are sophisticated and can do a great job of making these decisions for you. 

“Real photographers don’t use Auto ISO”

You may occasionally hear someone saying that a “real” photographer will not use Auto ISO on your camera. They say that you should be able to adjust everything manually on your camera. While I am a huge proponent of having photographers understand the exposure triangle (shutter speed, aperture, and ISO and their relationship to each other), I also am a realist. If I encounter the scenarios described above, I just might go ahead and use Auto ISO. If I get great results and it’s easier, then I’m happy.

Of course, there are times in which you might not want to use Auto ISO. Sometimes you might want to set your ISO manually for creative purposes. Or sometimes, you might know better than the camera and want to make the decisions. That’s OK too. This is why it’s good to have an understanding of ISO.

You don’t always have to increase ISO when it’s dark

Event photography
I used ISO 400, which has low-sensitivity here, even though it was indoors. Why? I was using a flash, which illuminated the subject. On this particular photo, I kept the room dark with the low sensitivity because I wanted them to pop out. Note that this is not typically how one does indoor event photography, but I wanted to do that because the windows in the back were very bright and distracting otherwise.

If you have a tripod and nothing is moving (or you don’t care if it is moving), you can still use a low ISO. You can use a longer shutter speed to make up the difference. If you are using a flash to illuminate the subject, you might not need to increase your ISO as much either. 

More tweaky stuff

Every time you double your ISO, you increase the camera’s light sensitivity by a full exposure “stop.” Typically, the full-stop ISO scale progresses like this: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12,800 and so on. See how the numbers keep doubling? The light sensitivity doubles. And so does your brightness. For example, ISO 200 is twice as bright as ISO 100. ISO 400 is twice as bright as ISO 200.

VISIT ME, VISIT ME!

BOOKS AND PRINTS:
Head on over to the Ken Lee Photography website to purchase books or look at night photography and long exposure prints and more.  My books are available there and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Booktopia, Books A Million, IBS, and Aladin. If you enjoy the book, please leave a nice review, thanks!

NIGHTAXIANS VIDEO YOUTUBE PODCAST:

Night photographers Tim Little, Mike Cooper and I all use Pentax gear. We discuss this, gear, adventures, light painting, lenses, night photography, creativity, and more in this ongoing YouTube podcast. Subscribe and watch to the Nightaxians today!

SOCIAL MEDIA:
Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like)
Instagram

PODCAST:
Behind the Shot video podcast – interview February 2020

VIDEO PRESENTATION:

How We Got the Shots: Five Photographers, Five Stories – Night Photo Summit 2022

VIDEO INTERVIEW:

Ken Lee’s Abandoned Trains Planes and Automobiles with Tim Little of Cape Nights Photography
Conversation about night photography and my book with Lance Keimig of National Park At Night

ARTICLES:
A Photographer Captures Haunting Nighttime Images of Abandoned Buildings, Planes, and Cars in the American Southwest – Business Insider by Erin McDowell
A Photographer Explores Southern California’s Desert Ruins – Los Angeles Magazine article by Chris Nichols

 

Why the Nightaxians shoot with it: Pentax K-1

The Nightaxians are all night photographers. And they all use Pentax K-1 full frame cameras. What is it about this camera that makes the it so compelling for the Nightaxians?

Night photo of abandoned mine.
Night photo at an abandoned mine in the Mojave Desert. Pentax K-1 camera.

Much of the camera industry has pivoted toward mirrorless cameras. However, there are compelling reasons why the Pentax K-1 an excellent choice. Find out about this unusual high-quality camera that often flies under the radar on the Nightaxians YouTube podcast.

Joshua Tree National Park, CA. Pentax camera.
Joshua Tree National Park, CA. Pentax camera.

VISIT ME, VISIT ME!

BOOKS AND PRINTS:
Head on over to the Ken Lee Photography website to purchase books or look at night photography and long exposure prints and more.  My books are available there and Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Booktopia, Books A Million, IBS, and Aladin. If you enjoy the book, please leave a nice review, thanks!

NIGHTAXIANS VIDEO YOUTUBE PODCAST:

Night photographers Tim Little, Mike Cooper and I all use Pentax gear. We discuss this, gear, adventures, light painting, lenses, night photography, creativity, and more in this ongoing YouTube podcast. Subscribe and watch to the Nightaxians today!

SOCIAL MEDIA:
Ken Lee Photography Facebook Page (poke your head in, say hi, and “like” the page if you would, uh, like)
Instagram

PODCAST:
Behind the Shot video podcast – interview February 2020

VIDEO PRESENTATION:

How We Got the Shots: Five Photographers, Five Stories – Night Photo Summit 2022

VIDEO INTERVIEW:

Ken Lee’s Abandoned Trains Planes and Automobiles with Tim Little of Cape Nights Photography
Conversation about night photography and my book with Lance Keimig of National Park At Night

ARTICLES:
A Photographer Captures Haunting Nighttime Images of Abandoned Buildings, Planes, and Cars in the American Southwest – Business Insider by Erin McDowell
A Photographer Explores Southern California’s Desert Ruins – Los Angeles Magazine article by Chris Nichols