Can you suggest me what kind of settings would I need to make these kind of pictures.

The scenario will be just like the pictures: Outdoors, lights on the streets, and maybe very small rivers with houses and lights on each side. Just like Venice or Brugge in Belgium.




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    The first scene has had saturation boosted (too much, IMO) in post. It is also possibly an HDR image. In the second, the bright coloured buildings are all lit somehow. The second may or may not be HDR, but either way, is a whole lot more subtle. – Chinmay Kanchi Apr 11 '13 at 12:55
  • +1 that first image of Melbourne looks bizzare. Everythings... glowing.. D: – NULLZ Apr 11 '13 at 15:02
  • It's really screwed up actually with blur varying in oddly. Most like because one exposure was long and the other short but they are combined to fill-in each other so tried have dark parts blurry and bright parts sharp but then the tone-mapping is taken into account, it just looks like splotches of blur. – Itai Apr 11 '13 at 16:01
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    You asked for setting, but especially with the first two pictures, the got the great deep blue sky by taking the picture right after the sun completely set, when the sky is still lit up but not black yet. That is the key here I believe. – dpollitt Apr 12 '13 at 1:37

Long exposure and probably HDR.

Put you camera on a good tripod, set you camera to manual focus and to shoot raw.

Set your aperture for the DOF - that would be a small aperture (high F number) because you want everything in focus

Set your ISO low to minimize noise

Now start with a pretty slow shutter speed (for example 10 seconds) and take a test picture, if your picture is over exposed use a faster shutter, if you don't get a picture as bright as the examples use a slower shutter.

If you get a single picture you like you will have to post-process it, the white balance will most likely be completely wrong (but that's ok because we shot raw) and for such exaggerated colors you will need to play with the saturation and vivid settings.

If you can't get a single well exposed image (if there are lighted and dark area in the image it's likely you will either over expose the light area or under expose the dark one) - than take multiple images from everything under exposed to everything over exposed at 1 or 2 stop differences (changing just shutter speed) and use HDR software to create a single image from the set.

  • can you please explain me what shoot raw is? for dummies? – Luis Valencia Apr 11 '13 at 11:57
  • @LuisValenciaMunoz - in your camera image settings one of the options is "RAW", if you choose this option the camera will save the raw unprocessed data from the sensor. if you post process the raw you get better quality than editing jpeg images, for more details see photo.stackexchange.com/questions/1455/what-is-raw-technically – Nir Apr 11 '13 at 13:08
  • I think this question on raw processing is a good starting point. – mattdm Apr 11 '13 at 21:15
  • Some compact cameras don't have RAW-mode, only JPEG. – Esa Paulasto Apr 11 '13 at 21:37
  • @Nir ,i would like to conflict to your saying when u say "Set your ISO low to minimize noise" . when you are taking long exposure shots, noise will not have significant effects unless it exceeds ISO 3600 or higher. the user "Luis Valencia Munoz" wanted vivid colour. saturation and contrast levels increase when ISO increase, i wouls suggest setting ISO above 800 and below 3200 and narrow down the aperture to get the crisp and colourful shot – pradeep sekar Apr 12 '13 at 5:21

In the case of the first photo, it is two different exposures, you can actually see the gradient between the two along the edge of the tree (look at how the exposure of the sky changes). By overlaying two different exposures, a simple HDR effect can be achieved. HDR is really just a fancy term for using a dark photo to get detail in the bright parts and a bright photo to get detail in the dark parts. This lets you capture a photo that is outside the typical dynamic range (the difference between the darkest and brightest spots that the sensor can measure at any one time) of the camera.

Shooting RAW files also helps because they generally have a larger dynamic range than their JPEG alternatives and provide far better color and exposure control in post production.


Take multiple exposures from a tripod. Save the image as a RAW file. Use the self-timer or a wired or wireless remote to avoid any camera movement between shots. Ideally you want the focus, ISO, and aperture to be the same and the shutter speed to be the value that changes from one shot to the next. The best way to do this is to use manual focus and exposure settings. You can also use AF to focus the lens and then switch the lens to MF so it doesn't change with each shot. Experiment until you've found a good medium exposure level. Take one shot at that exposure, then take one at 2 stops darker and another at 2 stops brighter.

Use one of several methods to combine the three images. HDR software such as Photomatix can do this. The initial result will probably be somewhat flat looking. Use the sliders for things such as contrast and saturation to adjust the image in a process known as tone mapping. There are also other methods to combine parts of multiple images. Exposure Fusion is one method. Manually combining parts of each image using layers in Photoshop is another.

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