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Photo taken at night with black strips

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hello there! 

I'm new to photography. I was out taking photos at night today and stumbled upon a well-lit cafe restaurant taking photos of it. But the photos turned out like this - with strips of black appearing. Could someone explain how this had happened? Thanks in advance!

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This is a guess based on your image, but from the light color and type of lights, it looks like those are LED / CFL lights, which are not constantly on but actually flicker rather rapidly, The LED lights can use a controller to change the brightness that changes how long the bulb is turned on and off. The flashes from these kinds of lifhts happens too fast for our eyes to detect and we see them as being on all the time.

Many digital cameras use what is called a rolling shutter rather than a global or leaf shutter which means the pixels are not read all at once but are read a line at a time or a pixel at a time into the buffer that “makes” the image — this is very similar to the way old crt televisions work.

Combine the light cycle time with the camera read cycle time and some lighted scenes give you sweeping dark strips in your images.

Some folks get around this by changing the aperture, others by lowering the shutter speed — may need to use a tripod with these two approaches, some by only using the mechanical shutter (mechanical shutter is said to be less affected than electronic shutter).


p.s. Welcome to the forum.

Edited by jerryy
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Try using 1/30, 1/60, 1/125 shutter speeds (assuming this is in the U.S. — which uses the 60hz a.c. electrical frequency, other places in the world use 50hz a.c. frequency rate, so try 1/25, 1/50, 1/100 if this is there).

But note, this is just something to try, the oscillator in the lighting controllers may not be keyed into the a.c. line frequency, and may just be low cost versions that run non-standard rates. If that is so, then you will need to experiment to find the timing rate and then use similar types of shutters speeds as I listed above.

If that does not work, try shining a low powered flashlight on the scene, preferably one that has a not-led bulb. Or, pop the scene with a flash to over-power the lighting. Keep in mind these last two options can affect the white balance.

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