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Night shots come easily with practice

Stephen SetteDucati took this photo in 2001 from on top of the north tower of the not-yet-completed Zakim Bridge after a 20-minute climb. Stephen SetteDucati took this photo in 2001 from on top of the north tower of the not-yet-completed Zakim Bridge after a 20-minute climb.
By Joel Brown
Globe Correspondent / August 14, 2011

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On night shoots, Stephen SetteDucati does things with his camera that most people won’t, pushing it to extreme settings (ISO 6400) and shooting handheld images at 1/50th of a second, as long an exposure as he can take without blurring it.

Still, the advent of the digital camera has hurt business for many, he said, because good equipment is widely accessible and no darkroom is required, so everyone thinks they can do it.

“Clients of 20 years for some photographers say, ‘I can’t afford you anymore, and my daughter’s going to start taking pictures for us. . . . She took a class in college, and she has the same camera you’re using,’ ’’ he said with a rueful chuckle.

“It’s not the size of your camera,’’ he added, “it’s how you use it.’’

He has a few tips, though, for those who want to take better pictures with their digital cameras:

■Turn the flash off and let the camera do the work. People think they’re going to get a better picture of Tom Brady from the upper deck if the flash is on. The flash is meant strictly for between 2 and 5 feet away.

■Experiment with the camera. There are a lot of features in there. Take it off the program [setting]. You don’t have to pay for film and processing anymore. You can delete all the images off the card. So take advantage of that and really experiment.

■Look at the light you have. There are times when I walk outside and see a certain light because of the setting sun or early morning or right after it rains. In Boston after the snow has fallen, the light comes up incredibly, because of all the lights reflecting off the snow, and it lights the whole city up. People don’t notice that because they’re just going about their lives. But pay attention to the light and how it changes through the day and it’ll help your photos tremendously.


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