How Can I Get The Best Photos Of Halloween Display In Dim Light?
Hi, I am interested in learning how to get the best pictures of our Halloween Display this year. It is 30 feet in length and lit by three flood lamps (roughly evenly spaced) equipped with 60 watt bulbs. The display is dimly lit but not what I would call dark. The pics need to be of sufficient quality to be included in a digital photo album, upload to a personal web page, and to be included in my DVD project. Let's say for the purpose of clarification that the photos need to be decent enough for standard prints (4" x 6") which should meet all of the above criteria. I also need to stitch the pictures for a panorama (but that is for another post).

Now I have a new Nikon Coolpix 5700 (which I bought as soon as the new model hit the shelf and the 5700 went down in price). I have been taking decent pictures using the "point and shoot" setting. However, I shot 90 pictures of the display last evening and I was really disappointed. I had to dump about 30 of the pictures right off the bat (too dark). I have been reading up on "image quality""Normal" seems the right setting all the way around for what I want.

Is that right? Beyond that, well, I am flying blinder than the bats in my display! Any advice at all? I wanted to add a picture but these are large files due to the default color depth I have been using. Thanks in advance for any input. Carole..

Comments (5)

You'll have to do the whole trial and error thing. I heard the camera you have isn't the best for low-light pictures but it is a really good camera. Try this'll be a pro in no time!!

Comment #1

I'd suggest reading the review of the camera on this site found by clicking on the Cameras bar at the top of the page (and then working down through Nikon, etc.) then re-reviewing the manual. You're going to need to get the terms right so you can find your way through the manual, instructions, general advice, etc. The "UXGA" for example, is a resolution setting. While it may be OK for getting small prints and saving memory card space, most people would advise shooting at the highest resolution possible, then resize/rename/resave as needed for specific uses. I'm going to make some assumptions that you are trying to avoid using the flash (and it may be that the area you want to capture in individual shots is too big for the internal flash). So you are going to need longer exposures - this will probably require a tripod.

I'd suggest the Programmed auto exposure mode and auto-bracketing becuase the lighting may be a little difficult to judge. That's where you can be trying "trial and error," the bracketing. If you have a tripod, you can use the lower iso's like 100 and not worry about haing to go to noisier fast iso's and noise reductions, etc. As to the "normal" settings on things like sharpness, etc., that would likely be the best place to start. I'd also suggest leaving the White Balance on auto until you've gottent to where you are happy with exposure results, then tweaking the WB could be tried..

Comment #2

Hi, I want to thank you for your time and for the link. I will certainly follow up. Carole..

Comment #3

I do not want you to think that I am looking for simple answers and am not willing to do my home work. I think part of my problem is that I am trying to learn too much all at once. You see I am trying to learn about uploading my images to hosting sites, resizing the images, using compression until I achieve the correct file size, and learning enough html to author some decent looking auction ads. The Halloween Display is a personal pleasure and I am finding how little I know about resolution (thought I knew that topic pretty well, but not really it seems the more I read), color depth, the difference between scanned images and vector images....well you get the drift.

Yes, I have been playing with deactivating the flash and then setting the exposure controlsgetting decent pictures of the LED lights in my creatures are important for a lot of reasons. The Nikon wants to take it (the display) like it was high noon, and not midnight. Well, enough rattling have been a great help. Thanks for the tips.Sincerely, Carole..

Comment #4

Oh no, wouldn't think that. The advanced digicams are quite complex and can be very confusing when you try to move away from the more automatic functions, especially if you haven't got a lot of experience with photography. My concern was that if you are thinking using one term but the issue or problem was actually called something else, that you'd potentially become lost when trying to look up the solution or got advice from others. Resolution is one of those things that you could probably "set and forget" (at a high setting) in the hierarchy or process of making little steps towards getting the picture you want. High resolution is something that you can always come back to with the picture file and reduce it in size but you can't usually take a low resolution picture and get more out of it. OTOH, when you start working with color balance, saturation, and similar "quality" controls, you don't want to do more than one change at a time because they may work somewhat at cross purposes and if something works for (or moves away from) what you want, you want to know what you changed...

Comment #5

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