Photographing Wet Surfaces At Night

Illuminated fountain at night, Southbank, Melbourne, Australia

This picture goes back a few years and was made with my original Canon 5D camera. The subject is an illuminated water fountain which spurts straight from the stone pavement adjacent to Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia. The Yarra River, Melbourne Aquarium and an elevated railway bridge can be seen in the background. Walk into this area unaware and you might well cop a spray, as they say.

Processing the Photo

As you can see the colors produced by the artificial light are really quite striking. In fact I've had to desaturate quite a bit of the most saturated colors so that, hopefully, they won't blow out on your screen.

High ISO and Noise

As the photo was made with the original Canon 5D, at ISO 800, and includes a number of near black areas it displays a fair amount of noise. The good news is that by pushing those shadows into black and utilizing Adobe Lightroom to reduce noise the final result is very acceptable.

Nowadays ISO 800 is not to be feared when using modern DSLR cameras, particularly when they are of the full frame variety and you're able to produce idea exposures as part of a RAW workflow. But don't worry, even JPEG shooters benefit from the improved ISO performance of modern cameras.

Wet Surfaces Glow

Notice how the wet pavement glows. Wet surfaces reflect the light and color that reach them. And that's one of the reasons why wet nights provide great opportunities for night photography.

As the image was primarily about color and light I decided to employ my Canon 85mm f1.2 lens, at its maximum aperture of f1.2, to blur any extraneous details. I hope you enjoy the final result.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru