In the Northern Hemisphere of LomoLand winter is upon us. This means that the days are shorter, and when the sun is up, it will often spend a significant amount of time behind the clouds. Does that mean we should put our cameras away until spring arrives and everything around us thaws out?
Absolutely not. Does that mean that we should only get our cameras out on the days that it snows? Not even close. Does that mean we should carry our ColorSplash flash with us everywhere we go? Yes, but that’s not the point of this tipster, just a handy suggestion. Winter is a perfect time to experiment with long exposure night shots since there is so much extra “night” to work with. It’s also a great excuse to get bundled up and get out of the house, Lomography.com will be here when you get back, I promise.
The first and most important thing to remember when shooting at night is to keep your camera steady. The second most important thing to remember when shooting at night is to KEEP YOUR CAMERA STEADY! You have the ability to create simply amazing night shots with any camera that has a bulb setting, and something to KEEP YOUR CAMERA STEADY. The camera needs a bulb setting to allow the shutter to stay open as long as possible and suck in all the light you wish to feed it for photo dinner. Having a shutter release cable really helps you keep from moving the camera when you choose to snap your shot. Finally, you need something to KEEP YOUR CAMERA STEADY, such as a tripod, a brick, your friends head, or your friends brick, the options are endless as long as it doesn’t move around much.
Most of the Lomography cameras have a bulb setting, if not, there is normally a way available to “trick” the camera into keeping the shutter open. My shots were created with an LC-A+, which requires you to cover the light meter and trick the camera into thinking that it is in a very, very low light situation. If you have a bulb setting available, you can hold the shutter open for as long or as short as you wish.
There are a a multitude of options available when it comes to shutter release cables depending on the camera you are working with. This little miracle worker depresses your shutter release button via an attached cable. This attached cable keeps you from creating any unnecessary movement in your shot that would result from you pushing the button down with your own dirty little finger. I know that there are a number of times in which we want, or even wish for unnecessary movement in our shots just to see what might happen, but this is not one of those times.
The benefit of owning a tripod will pay for itself over time by giving you great shots that would not have been possible otherwise. The benefit of being a Lomographer is that you are creative enough to come up with ANY idea on your own to keep your camera steady if your don’t own a tripod yet. Regardless the key is to, and yes it’s that time again, KEEP YOUR CAMERA STEADY! As long as whatever you choose to use is steady for the few seconds you keep the shutter open, it will work just fine.
This is not a lesson in what films to use, what ISO setting your LC-A should be switched to or if your Diana F+ should be on “sunny” or “cloudy”. For those things there are no rules, only impartial suggestions. Just remember that the lower the ISO of the film the more light you will need to let reach the film for proper exposure. Film eats light, the lower the ISO setting of your roll, the more hungry your film is. For multiple exposures, feed it half as much as it wants and it will still be hungry for more.
You still have several months of winter left, which means that there is still a large amount of darkness available for you to enjoy. Take advantage of the darkness and embrace it as an opportunity to experiment on what combination of variables works best for you. I still have several rolls of film to go through, and I can’t wait to see what will be created next. Grab some coffee or hot chocolate, your camera and a few rolls of film, bundle yourself up and get out there….because the night time is the right time for long exposure experiments.