Mike's Night Time Photos

My interest in low light photography stemmed from an earlier interest in colour vision, and a desire to see what I could do with manual exposures. All the photographs on this page were taken using a Nikon-FM camera with manual exposures.

Leonid Meteor Shower

I spent two hours on the morning of November 18, 2001 attempting to photograph the Leonid meteor storm. At the peak of the storm, I counted over 60 metoers in one minute. Unfortunately, by this time, my lens had frosted up.

Meteor Storm
[Orion] [Meteor Shower]

The first photograph is typical of my results. It is a nice picture of the constellation Orion, but fails to show any meteors. The streaking in the pictures in a result of the rotation of the earth during the course of a two-minute exposure, which provides a great opportunity to observe the colour of the stars.

The second photograph was taken when my camera happened to be pointing in exactly the right direction at exactly the right time. Within seconds of the shutter being opened, four meteors passed through the camera's field of view. This pictures reveals four meteors streaking away from the constellation Leo, after which the shower is named. Meteors appear as rainbow streaks that are unaligned with the streaking stars.

Night and Day


This pair of photographs was taken to illustrate the impact that low light has on colour vision. Because rods are more effective than cones under low light conditions, we percieve the night time world in an almost black and white fashion. Since the moon is effectively an enormous mirror reflecting the sun back at us, moonlight has approximately the same spectrum as sunlight. The blue tint we associate with night is just a consequence of the trouble our eyes have adapting to low light.

Midnight over the Ottawa River
[Water] [Islands]

Using a long exposure, in this case about one minute under the full moon, it is possible to see that moonlight contains all the colours we associate with the day. Moonlight photographs are essentially indistinguishable from daylight photographs. In the case of this pair, the water appears unnaturally calm and stars appear as bright specs in the sky.

Night and Day
[Moonlight] [Flash Photo]

These two photos were actually taken within five minutes of each other. The first uses a long exposure and moonlight. In the second, the forground is enhanced using a flash. Colour problems with the first image are a consequence of overexposure.

Other Low Light Photographs

[Pumpkin1] [Pumpkin2]

[Tree reflecting Christmas lights after freezing rain]

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