Night Tripod Photography DSLR Photography Lesson with Mohammad

Long exposure portrait - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/6.3 ISO 200 1sec Nikon SB-800 Speedlight hotshoe mounted in TTL modeEach time we have another DSLR Photography lesson together, Mohammad has a new piece of gear!  After our first lesson (which before he just bought a Canon T2i) he got a Canon 430EX II Speedlite that we used during our second lesson.  Now for out third lesson last night he had bought a nice Manfrotto tripod and joystick grip head.  It was my latest lesson, from 8pm to 10pm.  This allowed us to have a little light left in the sky for ideal night time cityscape shots conditions and to be able to practice portraits outdoors under completely dark skies.

We met at the usual spot in front of the Museum of Fine Arts on Beach Drive then walked toward The Pier.  Along the way we stopped at a few spots to practice low to the ground shots.  A benefit of using a tripod is you can use the legs in their shortest length and get a very low, creative angle and turn an ordinary scene into a photograph.  No one usually lies down on the ground when out sightseeing, thus a shot made from that perspective will show the viewer something that cannot be seen by just standing at the same spot at eye level.  This to me, showing what cannot be seen by just standing somewhere at eye level, is one of the things that makes a photograph a photograph, rather than just a snapshot.

We then made our way up to the top of The Pier, a 5-story open air patio, with a great panoramic view of the St. Petersburg skyline, though marred somewhat by a very high railing forcing one to use the center column on one's tripod thereby reducing stability.  When shooting at night or dusk, manual mode is best as controlling both the aperture and the shutter speed is necessary to produce the exposure one wants.  We mostly used shutter speeds in excess of 15 seconds.  

Our final stop, after riding the trolley from The Pier to North Shore Drive and having an exciting elevator ride with a big group of European tourists, was in front of BayWalk for some long exposure shots of the traffic driving by.  However, the traffic at most consisted of three or four cars, so we did not have much chance to get those cool red and white trail lights from the cars' lights in our shots.  Still, the spot was good for long exposure portraits (see top photo), which we made by keeping our cameras tripod mounted and flashes hotshoe mounted (so they can sync with the long exposures).

I really enjoyed this night lesson as using the tripods allowed for a slower, more methodical lesson pace and of course it was not as hot outside.  Plus Mohammad is a good student asking many questions and an interesting person who travels a lot.

I wonder what piece of gear Mohammad will buy before our fourth lesson, maybe a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens?? 

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