Brenda and I went to Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens (www.stanhywet.org) in Akron yesterday to see their holiday lights and decorations. We took our cameras because we thought there might be some photo ops.
We started our tour at the conservatory where there were lots of beautiful lights and plants. Brenda got this gorgeous shot (handheld at a shutter speed of only 1/13!) of a waterfall, lights and mimosa flowers.
When we went back outside, it was dusk. Photographing lighted buildings and grounds near and after dark presents some challenges. Generally, the camera is going to over expose the image due the relatively high amount of darkness in the scenes. The camera thinks it needs to properly expose these dark areas when, in reality, the dark areas usually should just be black. To compensate for this, I set the camera to under expose by 2 stops, causing it to think it needs 4 times less light than what it would otherwise (you may recall from our exposure training at recent club meetings that each stop changes the light needs by a factor of 2). I was shooting aperture priority at f8.
This is the manor house. When photographing, pay attention to the details of your scenes. You’ll be happier with your results if you do. For example, for this shot I moved to where the whole “PEACE ON EARTH” could be seen in the doorway, and I waited until no people were walking along the path leading to the doorway.
This is the conservatory, with the Gingerbread Land children’s area to the left. Note how the 2 stops under exposure made the sky and grounds completely black, causing the lighted building and grounds to really stand out.
When it was time for the gingerbread man to light the Christmas tree, I was certain there was not enough light in that area and that flash would be needed. To avoid the flash being too harsh, causing over exposed areas on the tree, lights or gingerbread man, I backed up about 20 feet. Here’s the shot I got. I was still shooting at -2 stops.
We enjoyed our visit to Stan Hywet and will probably go back sometime in a different season.