night shot using Canon60D w/ Tamron 28-300 at f/16 and 2 min exposure

I took this picture using a Canon 60D with a Tamron 28 – 300mm lens at f/16 and 2 minute exposure time using a tripod.

I am wondering why the lights are not sharp on the right side, and what should the settings be to get it right?

  • Hi Ram, and welcome to Photo.se Could you perhaps explain why you chose the settings that you used? That would make it easier to understand what your end goal is and what sort of answer you're looking for. Oct 27, 2016 at 8:26
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    Please edit the title of this question to describe your specific problem.
    – mattdm
    Oct 27, 2016 at 10:36
  • Is there a water feature on the right side of that building? Feels misty.
    – Hart CO
    Jan 18, 2017 at 4:38

3 Answers 3


I agree with @mick's assessment that a dirty lens is the likely culprit, but another possibility is some sort of atmospheric issue. For example, if the shot was taken with a barbecue pit or a large vehicle just below the frame on the right, then smoke or warm air could easily cause light to scatter more on that side of the image.

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    The more that I look at the image, the more I think that you are right.
    – Mick
    Oct 27, 2016 at 15:58
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    I've taken wide angle night sky images that had specific areas that were just awful. After analyzing them I realized the areas of sky affected were directly over my neighbor's HVAC external unit.
    – Michael C
    Oct 27, 2016 at 23:53
  • @MichaelClark I wonder if the stars twinkle noticeably more in that part of the sky.
    – Caleb
    Oct 28, 2016 at 0:54

Since some parts of the image are sharp and others are diffuse, I am wondering if your lens was dirty. In daylight conditions, it doesn't matter too much if your lens is not spotlessly clean, but with night-time photography, even the slightest finger mark can cause the partial blurring that you have in your photo. Stopping your lens right down makes it even worse since each element of the image is only receiving light from the corresponding area of the front surface of the lens (and filter).

Clean up and open up, and you'll be fine.


  • Make sure that the rear surface of the lens is clean as well as the front surface. It's just as important.

  • Remember to shield your lens from rain and moisture. That's just as bad as dirt. Use the biggest lens hood that you can lay your hands on.

Why are you using f/16, for heaven's sake? What are you trying to achieve? Open your lens wide and set the focus to infinity. You should be far enough away from the building that it makes no difference.

I would recommend using a prime lens (if you have one) for this type of photography, although others may disagree. Prime lenses will have fewer internal elements than zoom lenses, and there should be less risk of lens flare and other distortions.

  • Thanks so much for all your comments.. To the question, what was I trying to achieve.. nothing special.. just to capture the wonderfully lit building in the night. I was atleast 50m away from the building and the camera was set on a tripod.
    – Ram
    Oct 28, 2016 at 8:11

I agree the likely cause is a smudge on the lens either front or rear, however another possibility is a smudge on the sensor. Either way when you have that happening while it may be atmospheric (you'll know if it's in the same spot on two different compositions), or you have a smudge or moisture droplet diffusing the light somewhere inline from the end of your lens/filter to your sensor itself.

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