Friday, April 3, 2009

Celebrating Earth Hour - Focusing on different points

We celebrated Earth Hour with an ulterior motive - let those light-loving insects dwell on our neighbors' for an hour! I'm guessing that now I have my OWN home, I've been having this funny obsession to try keep things clean. Still everyday I reach home I can find some 'dirty spot'. What's worse, things gets dirty faster then I can ever clean them!

So while waiting for the hour to pass, Dennis decided to teach me more night photography with our Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 or as we called it Lumi. In a night shot, everything may look pitch black on the photo (like the ones below and also the cactus photos). But if you use those photo editing softwares to increase the brightness and contrast, you'll get a slight glimpse of the background. Try download the Cactus Flower number 5 and you might catch the ceiling lights of my home at the background on the right. Plus on the left you might just make out the window grills and the air condition out door unit.

According to Dennis, to create different views (like the ones above shows the entire candle, the floor tiles and the tuna can, compared to the ones below that shows only the top part of the candle and everything else is black) is due to the focus point. The thing about cheap point and shoot (PNS) camera, the settings options are limited compared to their expensive counter-part or DSLRs. So to get professional-like images, we've got to do a little cheating - that is to cheat the camera. In a dim-lit area, the PNS will automatically decrease the shutter speed giving the picture more expose time. While in brightly lit areas will cause the PNS to automatically increase the shutter speed thus giving the picture less exposure time. The first picture above is done at 1 second exposure time while the seond picture is 1/15 seconds. Both pictures are taken with the camera's focus point pointing at the darker parts of the candle (the body part right below the flames)

The picture above here is taken at 1/640 seconds. The one below is 1/10 seconds while the last picture is 1/125 seconds. All three pictures are taken with the focus point pointing AT the flames. So when the camera's focus point is pointing at the flames, the system will detect as a 'bright' image, so it will automatically set the camera's shutter speed so not to over expose the image.
Taking pictures of candle flames are really really unique. The image below is taken using a much higher ISO (400 instead of the previous pictures at only 80). However taking pictures at high ISO does have it's risk, for instance over exposure. Or the picture turns out purple-ish-pink-ish - somewhat like the first picture.


  1. I just came home from my parents in law and got very excited when I saw your post. I have been missing you! But I know what you mean by getting the house cleaned. I have been thinking a lot about your night photography posts at Earth Hour. If you have read my post, you know why ;). This post here is great information for me. Could you please explain me more about the exposure time? Thank you. Have a great week.

  2. Hello Rosidah,
    Yes I saw your blog post but I have to say that not all cameras can take good quality night pictures. For example, Sony Ericson hand phone cameras may take good pictures, but the Nokia N95 yields better results when taking night pictures.
    I think I've just got another idea for my next post - exposure time.

    Thank you!

  3. eh not bad wert.. i used to take the photographing class back at UM last time.. but now, i have forgotten most of the skills being learnt that time.. sigh...

  4. Hahaha... thank you Hayley,
    But when skills are not in use, its sure easily forgotten. Like my programming skills are now collecting dust or worse turning into bad sectors!


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