Masterclass :: Key Camera Controls

Assignment: City Lights

“Find a location that offers a variety of colored lights, such as street furniture, shops, restaurants, and offices.  Choose somewhere safe to walk around so that you can concentrate on capturing the brilliance of city lights.”

— from Digital Photography Masterclass by Tom Ang



For this assignment, my goal was to take photos in the “magic evening hour” (the hour before sunset), and in the dark of night, in a city environment, and notice the effect of varying camera settings, exposures, perspectives, and viewpoints.

I almost talked myself out of venturing into “bustling downtown Naperville” on a soggy January Saturday night, initially not too hopeful due to the uninteresting gray sky light just before sunset.  However, as darkness ensued, I began to “see the light” (pun intended) and the benefits of the dark.

Darkness (and the right ISO and aperture settings) allowed for longer exposures, allowing blurring, zooming, seeing light where it is hidden.

Darkness focused the eye on what light there was, allowing seeing things not noticed before in daylight.

Darkness and wet pavements created backlit landscapes where the sun could not.

Darkness allowed underexposing and darkening out the parts of the frame I did not want to record, to emphasize the parts I did.

Below are 8 more images that show some of these concepts.  Enjoy, especially the last one of ducks whose meditation is being interfered with by a crazy night-wandering photographer!

Keep the Lights On

Keep the Lights On

Naperville Night Mural

Naperville Night Mural

Star Stores

Naperville Night Abstract

Line Up

Line Up

Brick Texture

Brick Texture

Glamour Sticks

Glamour Sticks

Meditating Duck

Meditating Ducks

Keeping my word to myself, continuing these Masterclass assignments — even if it looks like the weather is not up to my “expectations” —  is bringing me lots of unexpected FUN!  And with the miraculous warm weather (46 degrees) to keep my fingers from freezing,  and the shimmering wet pavements and puddles to bring out reflections — it’s as if the universe is conspiring to make me HAPPY!  Who knew?

6 thoughts on “Masterclass :: Key Camera Controls

  1. Namaste Beloved Harry,

    I honor your integrity and self-discipline, keeping your word to yourself to continue these assignments in spite of temporary constraints like the weather and the mind’s quacking its excuses.

    Your exuberance and beautiful images fill me with great Joy. You are blessing us with your enthusiasm and new awarenesses. Thank you for your example!

    All my love,


  2. Love long exposure night shots. The duck shot is my favorite. How long was that exposure? Could be fun to open the shutter, let them sit a moment, then toss a piece of bread in there. You know up near Centenial Beach there is actually a set of rapids. I used to fish there and get in fights there with Harry Jr. 🙂 Could be cool to try and get that blurry water look at night. Keep shootin’!


    • Great ideas, Ryan! The Meditating Ducks were shot with a shutter speed of 2.5 seconds, lens 125mm, aperture f/29, ISO 1600. They were the last shot of the evening. I was heading back to my car when I heard this quacking going on by the river. I guess they were chanting too!


  3. Harry,

    I love it. I have dozens of photos of the Naperville ‘ducks’ and not a one at night. Who knew that they meditated at night. It never crossed my mind to go shoot in the ‘light of the evening’ to see what they are doing. What fun! Thanks for sharing and increasing the happiness factor.



  4. joyous, open, reflective. Thanks for letting your light shine!!!! “Tis rainsnowsleet here after a day of sunshie yesterday. Many thanks, R


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