Tag Archives: Camera

Pentax K-5 longest automatic exposure

To those that follow my blog, I was sick for about a month and did not have the energy to do much. I am feeling much better now and am resuming posting information and updates to here.

I was reviewing the stats and noticed that people are searching about long exposures with the Pentax K-5.  The current firmware allows up to a 30 second exposure in the modes that will allow you to change settings that affect the shutter speed.  It is important to remember that this camera also provides a “B” or bulb mode and when set here the shutter is open as long as you hold down the shutter release.  When using “B” mode a remote is almost mandatory to avoid camera shake induced by the photographer touching the camera during the exposure.

Here is an exposure made in “B” mode and a remote.

Time Exposure

Time Exposure ISO 100 F/11 97.0 sec

Night Cityscape photography tutorial

I have done some research into this and there several approaches to this type of photography.  The following is the way that I do it with my current equipment.

Start by scouting locations in daylight and selecting the areas you wish to shoot from for the composition that you desire; determine if you can legally access the location at night.  Be sure to survey the area for lights nearby that will basically blind the camera to the actual scene that you are looking at.  Take several shots from the area to review for details and potential problems.  Once you have the location, think about the moon and the phase that you wish to have in your image, if any.

Once you have the location and the date for the moon phase you wish, be ready with your equipment and practice setting it up, at the time of the shoot it may be necessary to set up everything in the dark.   Plan the schedule for that night out ahead of time, i.e. arrive at parking area at 9:30pm, setup by 10:00pm, etc.  Use a flashlight as little as possible for two reasons:

1. It takes time for your night vision to work, the light resets that process.

2. Flashlights in areas that normally do not have lights will draw the attention of the local law enforcement and you will have to explain what you are doing.  They may ask you to leave even if you have every right to be there.  If this happens, just do what they ask, otherwise you could end up facing some sort of charges based on local laws.

Once on site and set up, it is time to select the settings for you camera.  My personal choice is to go for good depth of field in the images.  This means a small aperture (the smaller the better), a long exposure and a low ISO for best detail.  Think of it like taking a landscape that needs the close grass in focus as well as the mountains, only at night.  This is where you may need a remote control or a cable release if your camera will not automatically do exposure times that are long enough.  Use your handheld light meter to determine the correct exposure and then bracket as many stops as you feel you need to get the effect you desire.   Note: It is possible to do this without an external meter; however you will be restricted to the programmed limits of time for your exposures.

Spend some time there, wait for the moon to be in different positions, watch the traffic flows; it may be possible to get an image without light trails from cars if you wish.  Do not rush the process and miss the shot you wish because you did not have the patience to wait for the correct conditions.  If you do not get the results you wanted, review the images and determine what to try next trip out.

Once you are back at the computer with the images, remember; work on copies of the images not the original files.  It is easier to start the correction process over from another clean copy of the image than to try to undo everything you did.

These are not processes for the impatient and remember to enjoy what you are doing.  If you are not enjoying it, why are you doing it?

I have a couple of shots I am in the process with and when I am happy with them I will post copies of them here.

Night photography basic equipment

The Camera

The selected camera needs to have a manual mode that allows control of shutter speed, aperture (f-stop), and ISO (sensitivity).  Some cameras automatic systems can handle the exposure settings or at least start the photographer in the correct direction. An accurate preview system can also be a big help in seeing what you are getting.        A delay timer or a remote release is required to help eliminate camera shake.  It can be surprising what you can capture even the point and shoot digital cameras.  I have taken some very nice shots with my Canon A720IS.


If you are fortunate enough to have a dslr, experiment with your lenses.  This is like other landscape and cityscape photography, look for your shot and think about lens choice.

A Tripod

A solid tripod or another way to stabilize a camera is required.  If you try to hand hold the camera the shots will be blurry, some of the exposure times can exceed 1/10 of a second and it is a very rare person that can hand hold a camera for that long – even with image stabilization.

I will end this post with a couple of images I captured earlier this evening. Both of these were taken with my Pentax K-5 and my 55-200mm lens.

Cross northwest of UNR

Cross northwest of UNR

Downtown Reno from near the National Basque Monument

Downtown Reno from near the National Basque Monument.

Night photography

I am still exploring the abilities of my Pentax K-5 and did a couple of handheld night shots of downtown Reno from near TMCC.  The same general area as this image.

Reno skyline from the North
Reno skyline from the North

I will post one of them as soon as I get them into my laptop and check them out.  It looks good on the camera display, especially considering that it was taken without a tripod.

I will be going out in the next week or so at night with a tripod and explore just how well the camera will do with night-time shots. 

First Set of Images from my new camera

I have been getting to know my new camera and what it can do. The following 5 images are some of the results of this time.

The first image is of Reno, Nv from one of the parking lots at TMCC and is a High Dynamic Range image done by the in camera software automatically.

Reno skyline from the North

Reno skyline from the North

 The second is a test of the low light capabilities of the camera, this image is without a flash in a room light by three compact fluorescent bulbs.

One of the cats

available light photo at night in the house.


The next image is a highly cropped image of an owl in a nearby park.  The kit lens is to short for wildlife photography.

Sleeping Owl

Sleeping owl in the top of a cottonwood tree.


A path

an area in the same park


The last image for now is a picture of some moving water.

Evans Creek

a section of Evans Creek, north of downtown Reno, NV


So far I am impressed with the capabilities of this camera and the results I am getting with it.