The Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo, shot from Shinagawa Futo
© 2013 Alfie Goodrich. All rights reserved.

Down by the Rainbow Bridge: Night Photography in Tokyo

After finishing a shoot for Mazda the other day I took the wife and kids out for a drive down to the coast. It was raining most of the time but by 10pm the rain had stopped, so I dropped the family at home and headed out by myself for a bit of night photography.

Large [1920pixels wide] version available on my Google Plus page.

There are a lot of interesting places in Tokyo, especially down by the water, where it really pays to have your own wheels. I don't really miss owning a car here but sometimes, especially late at night, it's just much more convenient to drive. Especially when tripods and other heavy gear are involved.

I know some nice spots down around the Bay to get shots and headed around a bunch of them the other night: Tsubasa Park has great views of the planes on final approach to Haneda; Shinagawa Futo is good for looking across to the Rainbow Bridge - and that's where I took this.

Trouble is, there is a high fence between me and the view and there is no way of getting past the fence. Cue the car......

I'm only 64kgs in weight, which helps when you want to use the roof of the car as a platform for yourself and the tripod. With the tripod at full extension [about 7ft high] and the height of the car taken into account, I guess I had the camera about 12ft in the air - which was perfect for getting most of the fence out of the equation and elevating the super-wide lens to a point where it wasn't just seeing loads of low-level foreground.

I put the tripod on the roof of the car, framed up the shot and then used the self-timer to take it:

Self-timer set to fires 20secs after I pushed the shutter button [giving me enough time to climb down off of the car roof and for the car to be still] shoot 3 shots, fired 0.5 seconds apart from each other, bracketed 1stop apart.

This is not an HDR. I just wanted three shots at slightly different exposures so i could choose the most well-exposed. Plus, getting up and down off of the roof of the car was kind of annoying... so getting three shots each time was a bit more sensible.

I took an iPhone photo of the setup, which I will post later....

Techs and Specs?
Nikon D800E
14mm f/2.8
ISO 100

Why not 50ISO or a smaller aperture and longer speed?

The wind was strong.. and I wanted to minimize any effect of the car being blown around.


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  1. This looks great +Alfie Goodrich! I love that bridge and that loop. We'll have to get together for a shoot out there one time.

  2. Excellent, I haven't seen this angle before.

  3. Beautiful job. Good idea getting on top of the car – came out great!

  4. omg really very amazing all things, it is fantastic view from great phtographer history will tell of his works. We happy to be of his circle.

  5. Love the scenery with the lights forms and textures . Nice idea with the car to get in a higher position ! A question if you´ve got the time ? At my latest photo trip to the sea I used 25 sek shuttertime in some photos but a lot of colornoise appeared in the darker parts.. A liitle bit better with photoshop but not the hole whay !  What to do is it the camera ,Canon 5D mark III ? Big stopper was used also. Would be nice of you if I could get an advise from you ! Have a nice day Alfie ! Ronnie

  6. +Ronnie Isacsson Constant battle with this issue myself, in terms of exploring the various issues with noise on long exposures. 

    1. Worth experimenting with the various settings for in-camera long exposure noise reduction. 

    2. Lightroom has very good NR tools. I tend to use Imagenomic's 'NoiseWare' plugin through Photoshop. Pretty good at getting rid of noise and keeping sharpness.

    3. That said, didn't do any NR on this and, now I checked, see that long exposure NR was also turned off in the camera. It's a little noisy but not bad at all. 

    4. Were you shooting at low ISO? Best to always do that. Lowest it can go. Mine goes to 50 but I didn't use that as explained above, but used 100 instead.

    5. Camera sensor on for a long time during long exposures generates a lot of heat, which translates to signal-noise ratio going up and noise in the photo. Nikon is experimenting with cooling the sensor. Expect to see that tech in newer cameras from all manufacturers. 

    6. Go check out the people shooting star-trails.. some great advice online from some of them including advice on NR.

  7. That's gorgeous! I haven't been down by the Rainbow Bridge yet, but it just shot up on my list of places to see.

  8. +Alfie Goodrich Thank you for your time Alfie ! Well the ISO was 100 and f 14 I´m not sure if the noise reduction was actived in the camera but then you loose some detail or ? Thank you also for all your tip among them the plug-in tip ! Have a great day !

  9. +Ronnie Isacsson It would be worth just shooting three or four test frames with the in-camera NR in different settings. In my Nikon that would be OFF, LOW, NORMAL and HIGH.

  10. +Alfie Goodrich I think its the similar settings in my mark III . Will test your advise , thanks again , appreciate it !

  11. Their intersection is terrific…

  12. Great job!! Beautiful shot! like the contrast of the sky and water color! I don't remember the bridge looking so pretty!

  13. So much better than a HDR, if ambient lighting is sufficient.

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