Photo of the Month with Outwell

June 5, 2014

Our glowing tent

Chuffed to bits that my photo was chosen as ‘Photo of the Month’ in Outwell’s e-cAmp magazine.

You can see it here on page 9 of their magazine: click to view Jun 14 Outwell e-cAmp magazine.

I took this photo of our Outwell Hornet XL, complete with tarp shelter, at the Buzzard’s campsite.

It was a bit of an experiment and I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out, but pleased with the result.

Here’s some tips if you want to try and take a picture like this.

How to take a picture of a glowing tent at night

There are some great photos of tents glowing in amazing landscapes. These are usually one or two man back-packing tents. I wanted to try it with a large family tent.

Unfortunately if you just take a picture with most small digital cameras or phones, you won’t get the full glow effect. And if the flash goes off, you won’t get any effect at all.

The trick I used to get this shot was a long exposure. This is where the camera’s shutter stays open longer to let in more light. On most cameras the ‘click’ when you take a photo happens in under a second. For this shot, the ‘click’ took a few seconds.

During that long photo period, everyone else was inside the tent with lanterns on, and head torches glowing.

I asked them to ‘paint the tent walls with light’. This was basically moving their torches up and down, as if painting the wall.

Because the camera’s shutter was open for longer, instead of a torch beam just being a spot of light, it was blurred creating a much larger area of light.

If you look at the picture closely, there is a spot of light in the middle of the photo. Looking at the height, I think this was our youngest who decided to stand still for the photo (well you do usually, don’t you).

A good experiment on the tent

You’ll also notice that some areas of the tent are darker than others.

We shot this with the blinds down, and the Hornet XL blinds block out light quite well, as you can see.

Outwell have also darkened the sleeping area. Despite having two people in that area with bright head torches (they were using Petzl Tikkina 2 head torches), not much light came out of that part of the tent, which show’s Outwell’s design is working well.

Equipment needed for a ‘glowing’ nighttime photo

Firstly, you need a camera that can take a long exposure. For this sort of photography, the de facto standard is a Digital SLR (DSLR) camera. However, depending on what camera you have, you might find a setting for ‘night time’ photos. This will hold the camera’s shutter open for longer, creating a long exposure, and so you may be able to get the glowing effect without a DSLR. However it might not be long enough to really make your tent glow in the photo, so you could compensate by putting more lights in your tent.

The camera I used in this photo is a Nikon D3200 DSLR.

As camera’s go, this is an expensive camera. As DSLR cameras go, this is not so expensive.

Photography is a bit of a hobby of mine, and this model is one I’ve worked my way up to.

If photography is something you’d like to do but can stretch to a full DSLR, then I can recommend this ‘bridge’ camera, the Nikon COOLPIX L810.  It is called a ‘bridge’ camera as it bridges the gap between a full DSLR and a normal digital camera.

Our daughter, who also likes photography, has the Nikon COOLPIX L810. She has taken some stunning pictures with it. A lot of pictures on this website have been taken by her using this camera.

Whatever camera you use, you will need to place your camera so it doesn’t move. Holding the camera whilst taking the photo won’t work. This is because the camera’s shutter is open longer, so any tiny movement is going to blur the photo.

For this, you need a tripod. A heavy duty one is best as they don’t move as much. Unfortunately I have a lightweight one, which is great when I take it hiking, but is more prone to being moved (even by the wind).

There are of course lots of other tricks and gadgets you can get, but these are the basics.

Whatever camera you use, and whatever shots you take, we’re always glad to see them. You could get pinned to the GOWTK Tribe Wall 😉


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Gav Grayston Contributor

Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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