Any tips would be useful, thanks :)
Here's some good photo sites which what have what you are looking for:
I found that with my digital, the lower the ISO speed the less noisy the photos turn out.
I don't keep exact notes, but if my memory serves me correctly, this shot was on ISO 400 film at f/22 with a 4 second exposure on a tripod with a cable release. (the nice thing about Dorney is that in May you can lug a tripod around the park and not be in anyone's way :) )
My personal tastes/opinion is that this is still the one place that digital does not look as good in the end as film. As always, YMMV.
(or maybe I should reword that to say film is much more forgiving if your exposure is slightly off than digital is)
In the end there is no 'right' answer. If you're really serious, learn about photography and get out there with your camera and figure out what works and what doesn't.
First off, the camera shutter needs to stay open for a certain period in order for the limited amount of light available to "collect" within the sensors. Your mileage may vary, but depending on the brightness of the scene you're photographing, you'll probably need 2-3 seconds for a well-lit coaster to upwards of 10-20 second or more in a very dark setting (the lens aperture also plays a role in this, but I'll let someone else complicate things if they want). If you can, set your ISO setting as low as possible to minimize noise, and enable a noise-reduction feature if your camera has one. More technobabble: Lower ISO means longer exposure time because the sensors are less sensitive to light, so if you're trying to capture a train with motion blur, you may have to increase your ISO setting or lower your F-stop.
Secondly, the camera MUST remain absolutely still -- even the most minute movement will result in blurry images. The ideal setup is to have a tripod with an external manual-release shutter cable, but budget-conscious/lazy photographers can compensate by using common midway things like garbage cans, sidewalks, and anything else that's flat and won't move. If you don't have a shutter cable, try to set the exposure for a set amount of time if the camera supports it; if you need to hold down the shutter though, I hope you don't have shaky hands.
Other things to be careful about: really bright coasters can ruin the rest of a photo's background; Dragster, for instance, is almost as bright at nighttime as it is during the day -- thus if the structure looks good, the background is probably too dark. Get the background right, and the track will be quite overexposed. Different settings will bring about a happy medium, or if you're really daring, composite two pictures together in Photoshop! (that's tomorrow's lesson :)
Lastly, try to avoid people walking in front of the camera during a long exposure -- very annoying.
Don't just stop at roller coasters -- night shots of nicely lit flat rides -- especially those of the spinning variety -- often lend to really fantastic shots with cool blurring effects. It'll take a lot of experimenting to really nail down some good scenes since it's not just point-and-click, but the results are often worth it!
-Skydiving "I take pictures too!" Jeff
This one I took with a tripod:
This one while holding the camera against a post:
I agree in the end there is no "right" answer. If you are shooting digital I suggest taking lots of photos, especially at night. Some may look sharp on your camera but when you get home and look at them on your computer or print them, they can be blurry.
Oops..I think I should get some rest...
Understanding Exposure is a great book that was recently updated. Well worth a read for all areas of photography.
*** Edited 4/29/2005 10:43:32 AM UTC by Gemini***
Again, thank you to all of those who have commented. I got a lot of good stuff from y'all that I will look into. I knew a bit about playing with the ISO and stuff, but some of these terms are new to me. Those photos that y'all posted all look great, and I hope I can build up to that level. Fortunatley, I have an SLR which seems to be a bit better than your garden variety camera.
Now, about tripods, someone mentioned ones that can actually fit into your camera bag? That would be preferred (though I can't recall ever seeing one that small, but I'm sure they are out there), but does it make any difference between mini tripods and full-sized ones?
Again, I thank you all :)
*** Edited 4/29/2005 3:05:38 AM UTC by Jophish***
I was stuck just holding it against my chest and trying to be very, very still. If I had brought my tripod I wouldve been set! :(
One more tip, The purpose of using a manual/cable release in conjunction with a tripod is so you don't jiggle the camera when you hit the button. Another way around this if you don't have one or your camera doesn't support it is just to use the timed (delay) shutter feature, the one you'd normally use to take a portrait of yourself. By the time the shutter goes off the camera has stopped shaking.
This is also a good tip if you're trying to take photos with a long zoom, which can be sensitive to camera shake.
It was a really sunny day, so I had to play with my settings. I wound up snapping that on ISO 100 (maybe a little less...) and F/8.
You just need to play with your camera's settings to see what works best for you/it. If you can do it, go to your home park for a strictly "photo day". Bring your manual, a tripod, and patience.
If you want, even bring a pad of paper and write down your settings and compare them with the photos later.
While you're doing that, don't trust your LCD screen when judging between 2 pictures. If you're having trouble trying to decide which settings you like best, compare the 2 pictures on a real monitor or prints.
Hope this helps.
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