Shooting Challenge: Lights Out

Illustration for article titled Shooting Challenge: Lights Out

It's Earth Hour this weekend. And no matter how you feel about its message, I think we can all agree that seeing cities blanketed in darkness is chilling. So for this week's Shooting Challenge, photograph the darkness of Earth Hour.


The Challenge

Take a photograph during Earth Hour—March 28 from 8:30-9:30pm—when all the lights are off. (Oh, and go outside! Unless you have some really compelling idea indoors.)

The Technique

You will be taking photographs in virtually no light. That means you'll need to slow down your shutter speed, giving the camera more time to let light in. And that means, you should use a tripod, or you should set your camera somewhere that it's steady.

You might want to take a very long exposure for this challenge—as long as 15 or 30 seconds. It's a great time to try! Nikon has a great interview on how to pull this off. Notably, a lot of people use neutral density filters during long exposure photography. It's paradoxical, since these filters actually cut out light. But the idea is that they can prevent you from getting hot spot blowouts in your images.

The Example

Our lead image is by H.L.I.T. It's of Earth Hour in Soho back in 2009. It's one of the rare photos that I love the digital grain you get from a high ISO.


Notably, not all the lights are off! That's OK! In this case, NYC has a sleepy glow. But also consider searching for a street scene that's totally dark.

The Rules

1. Submissions need to be your own.

2. Photos must be taken this week.

3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.

4. Email submissions to, not me.

5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560px wide image in email. I know that your photo may not fall into those exact high rez dimensions, so whatever native resolution you're using is fine.


6. One submission per person.

7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)

8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.


9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.

Send your best photo by Monday, March 30th at 10 AM Eastern to with "Spring" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameEarthHour.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameEarthHourWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions.



Farquest de Jamal

Cave of Ashabe-Kahf, Jordan, with no flash, in the middle of the night.