Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Northeastern BC
Those pictures came out pretty good, and I'd say you're definitely on the right track.
I'm not an expert, either, but I can tell you what works for me. You've already got the two biggest things covered, by using a tripod and the shutter delay. But, you guessed right, to improve on your shots, you'll have to check your instruction book, and get into the manual settings. Here's basically what you want for a good night shot:
- Low ISO setting
The lower the number, the less sensitive the camera sensor. You probably want a setting of ISO 80. The reason is that the more sensitive (higher number), the grainier the image will turn out. Since the sensitivity is low, you compensate by using longer shutter times.
- Very long shutter speed
Some of my better night pictures have shutter speeds lasting several minutes - because by using a low ISO setting, you make the camera less sensitive to light.
- Small aperature (F-stop)
Bigger number = smaller aperature --> gives better "depth of field" (foreground and background in focus).
- Disable auto-focus
Auto-focus needs some kind of light to work. Even though most cameras have a built-in "focus assist" light, but that's useless over a long distance. Manually focus for infinity (or whatever distance is appropriate).
You may be limited by what your camera allows for settings. For example, my Canon camera didn't allow shutter times of more than 15 seconds, originally. I had to get around this by using higher ISO settings or a larger aperature. Since then I found some different firmware that allows you tweak all the settings as you like.
I hope some of that helps. The best thing with a digital camera is that you can try all sorts of different things, and see what works best for you. But keep those pictures coming -- they're looking good!
If Princess Auto were a real girl, I'd ask her to marry me.