Night time in Florida

by Tom
(Opelika, AL)

Sea Towers condos - Madeira Bch, FL

Nikon D40
2008/02/15 19:11:32.6
JPEG (8-bit) Normal
Image Size: Large (3008 x 2000)
Lens: 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 G
Focal Length: 19mm
Exposure Mode: Shutter Priority
Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern
1 sec - F/3.5
Exposure Comp.: 0 EV
Sensitivity: ISO 200
Optimize Image: Normal
White Balance: Auto
AF Mode: AF-A
Flash Sync Mode:
Flash Mode:

(For convenience, all links below open in new windows)
Night time photography can yield stunning results. There’s something special about all those lights twinkling against a darkened sky.

Let’s have a look through Tom’s shot and see what’s good, and what could be improved.

First the good. Night time photos often look better during those moments when it isn’t quite dark yet, when there’s still a little colour left in the sky. Tom’s taken his photo at the right moment – there’s deep yellows near the horizon, stretching into blues, then violets. We’ve also get a few high level clouds in there to help liven the sky up a bit.

Then there is the shooting position. Tom has positioned himself across from a lake so that the lights are reflected in the water. Remove the water, and the reflection goes, and with it a lot of the impact of the photo.

And the preparation – Tom either took a tripod with him to take this photo, or found a sturdy surface to rest his camera on. We can tell this because the metadata shows us that this photo was a one second exposure – too slow to get a good hand-held photo. You can read more about understanding exposure here.

And so we move onto improvements . . . the one thing that I am itching to correct in this photo is the angle. The photo is on a slant, and it looks like all that water is draining away to the right!

There is an easy fix for this – the crop tool. The crop tool doesn’t just crop photos, it can also be used to straighten them. Click here to read a digital photography tutorial on using the crop tool.

All in all, this is a decent enough photo, and I hope I’ve outlined some of the reasons why it’s good; and please Tom, dig out that crop tool!

Click for more digital night photography tips.


Want more tips? Get our recommended eBook.
Read a hands on review here.

Comments for Night time in Florida

Average Rating starstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Mar 04, 2008
Comments to reviewers
by: Tom

Thanks for your suggestions - I went back and straightened the photo and moved it off center. It is remarkable how just these 2 things improved the picture.

Kris - I'm not sure how I could have eliminated the metal railing on the right side w/o photo editing. It was a lagoon with the railing all around.

Thanks for the suggestion of the faster shutter speed - I see your point


Feb 28, 2008
by: KRIS

Dear Friends,

I would like to add a few more improvements. It is only my opinion and what could have been done to produce a better image. I understand time and circumstances almost always go against the Photographers.

1. Horizon is almost at the Middle. We could have seen more of the sky and less of the Dark waters at the lower end of the picture.

2. The Metal railing on the Left hand side does not have any real value.

3. The reflections show that the water was moving, may be due to the wind. Since the exposure is perfectly OK, we could have used a slightly faster shutter speed, and there could have been more substance in the reflections.

These are just my opinions about the Photo.

Do let me know if I am right.


Feb 27, 2008
by: Steph

Hi Tom, like the editor I would crop this shot, but I would use the left side of the shot cropping at an equal distance on the first building.

I would crop just below the reflection in the water but keep the big sky which I feel looks more dramatic on this side of the shot. But hey thats just my view its a really good shot. I rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

Feb 26, 2008
by: João

That´s a great photo, I love night time photography.

But besides correcting the inclination, I think that the horizon is too much in the middle. I think that putting the horizon a little lower, trying to follow the rule of thirds (not too much, just a little) would give an even better result, getting rid of the black empty space below.

That's my opinion. Thanks for posting!


Click here to add your own comments

Return to Digital photography tutorials - submissions, February 2008.