Thursday, September 06, 2007

Taking night pictures with a cell phone camera

In my explorations of what you can do with a cellphone camera, the most interesting challenge is night pictures. I find brightly colored lights at night to be really beautiful, but the cell camera doesn't capture it well. Here's a snapshot of what was a brilliant traffic light my last night living in Denver:

white traffic signal

You can see some redness in the "don't walk" sign across the street, but the traffic signal just shows up white next to the streetlight. I think it was green at the time, but it's hard to tell here. Should I photoshop it to fix the color to what I remember seeing?

Here's a photo of the Man and the moon from Burning Man last week. The man was bright green -- here he shows up white. The green canopy under it shows up as green though. Must be something about intense green getting washed out more than other colors.

burning man and moon

Also the moon is a lot less dramatic. I took several moon pictures and they always look tiny. Why is that? Must be related to the effect that makes the moon look bigger on the horizon. I don't think I'll bother with moonshots any more without a telephoto lens.

Here are our water bottles: we put glow sticks in them so we can carry them around and not lose them and not get hit by bikes. The green looks fine here.

blue and green glowing water bottles

One final example: I tried to get a picture of the Thunderdome; this is a huge geodesic dome where the audience climbs on the outside and people fight inside hanging on bungee swings. I was trying to just get a straightforward snapshot of the fighters with audience in the fore- and background, but obviously the shutter speed had to be too slow for all the motion and my unsteady hand (snapping at arms length over my head). Plus my aim sucked. But I kinda like it anyway; it captures a sense of anarchy and chaos. I guess night photos with a cell phone have to be either still lifes or lomographic motion shots like this.


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