Night for Day

On Sunday we went for a hike on Point Reyes with our friends Mark and Amy. This was a get-away-from-the-kids that we’d been looking forward to, with Rachel prepared to babysit all three boys until whenever we got back.

Unfortunately, the weather was sloppy. By the time we got out to Inverness on the Point Reyes peninsula, the rain was coming down steadily. We had a long lunch, and by the time lunch was over it looked like the rain was letting up.

What was a little rain, anyway? We decided to go for our hike even in the wet weather. Luckily, by the time we reached the trailhead parking lot for the Estero Trail, the rain had stopped completely.

We had a nice hike, with some good photo opportunities. By the time we got back to the parking lot it was dark. This was my last photo of the day, taken in almost complete night. As I released the shutter, a few drops of rain had started to fall. By the time I packed camera and tripod up, and ran to the parking lot, cold rain was coming down hard.

If you look at the Exif data for this image, you can verify for yourself that this was a long exposure, thirty seconds, with the 10.5mm digital fisheye lens wide open at f/2.8. But it really doesn’t look like a long exposure in almost complete darkness should look. In fact, I bet if you were shown this photo and didn’t know any better, you would think it was taken in the daytime, perhaps the late afternoon (with the incoming storm).

In cinematography, there’s a technique called Day for night, which uses lighting and filtration to make a scene shot during the day appear to take place at night. The effect shown in this image, of converting night to apparent day, strikes me as a kind of opposite Night for Day (hence the title of this story).

The fact is that digital sensors are far more sensitive to light beyond the visible spectrum than we are (and far more so than film). Do long exposures when IR and UV radiation is bouncing around, and weird things start to happen as in the image that illustrates this story, this moonlight vista of the Golden Gate, and this photo by star light in the High Sierras.

Related story: Xrays, Photograms, and Cross-Processing, Oh My!

This entry was posted in Digital Night, Landscape, Photography, Point Reyes.

16 Trackbacks

  1. […] igital Photographs and Techniques from Harold Davis

    « Night for Day

    Drakes Estero

    .flickr-photo { border: solid 2px #00000 […]

  2. […] oto sharing”> Estero Crossing, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger. The Estero Trail crosses Drakes Estero on the causeway and bridge shown here.


  3. […] ain clouds hover, and the moon lights the trail towards home. Another long time exposure, digitally turning night to day.

    This entry was posted

    on […]

  4. […] r wide for a good long time exposure, let the white of the waves form a ghostly solid, and digitally turn night to day. In some cases, this turned out like I planned, and I’ll post more im […]

  5. By Photoblog 2.0: » Photoblog 2.0 Archive: » Night on December 8, 2006 at 11:28 am

    […] t bridge span, due to be finished around the time my kids start college. Like some of the images of Point Reyes that I posted recently, this one is a thirty second time exposure (view the Exif […]

  6. […] age larger. The bridge lights glow and the surf turns into an eerily solid mist in this time exposure from Baker Beach that is not a camera toss!

    This entry was […]

  7. […] /a> Marin Headlands at Dusk, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger. Like some earlier photos taken on Point Reyes, these captures of the Marin coast (above) and the open Pacific wit […]

  8. […] en Gate at the sunset lights of South San Francisco. My last image of the session, it is a long time exposure (25 seconds, view the EXIF data). As I finished the exposure, I glanced out towards […]

  9. […] bit like an expressionistic water color. Some other interesting low-light time exposures: Approaching Rain, Marin Headlands at Dusk, Starry Night, and Beyond the Visible.


  10. […] interested in what happens to long digital exposures at night time. Some related stories: Night for Day, Winter Sea.

    This entry was posted

    on Sunda […]

  11. […] have been turned mellow by the length of the time exposure. In digital photography’s day for night effect, the cliffs actually look much brighter than they did in “real life.” […]

  12. […] to San Pablo Bay. This was a one minute exposure with my lens wide open. Related story: Night for Day.

    This entry was posted

    on Wednesday, April […]

  13. […] lly checking depth-of-field! (You can view this image’s EXIF data here.) These were long time exposures. Fortunately, everything did stay very still. There was not a breath of wind. It w […]

  14. […] , put the camera on tripod and snapped these time exposures. The unpredictable effects of long exposures at night on digital captures are amazing. In these I like the dreamy, watercolor effect […]

  15. […] 10.5mm digital fisheye at ISO 100, 330 seconds and f/3.5 (wide open). Related stories: Night for Day; Digital Darkness; On Night Photography.

    This entry was po […]

  16. […] nd the lighthouse in the distance. With a three minute exposure at f/3.5 and ISO 400, this night scene appears as bright as day. Related site: Digital Night.

    This […]

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