I'll be a little blunter in the interest of helping.
Don't spend an extra cent on gear for a while, that would not make the least improvement to those shots (which is all technique related) and wouldn't fit with your financial circumstances either.
Find a scene that looks interesting to your eye without any light trails in it (eg looking down a street with pretty building lights and a road in it), that way when you add the light trails it will look interesting plus light trails.
Get the horizon straight.
The scenes above would take a car roughly 10 seconds to pass through so use that as your starting point for shutter speed.
Set the cam on manual, shutter speed 10 sec, apperture try F7.1 and take the shot then judge if the exposure is ok, if it's too dark and your lens allows it open it up a bit more, if too light close the apperture slightly.
For 10+ second exposure you don't need to worry about the tiny bit of shake in pressing the shutter at the start ie no remote required.
To give an example what I mean here is one of my early shots with cheap photography gear using method above. I know it's reasonably bad but at the time I was very happy to get it.
My inclination is to pretty much echo what Dread Pirate said but I'm intrigued by your comment..
"I do weddings, christenings and other occasions"
Is this paid work and if so how do you manage with the 230 which seems far from ideal?
Thanks for the advice Dead Pirate. I've already been out and tried what you've said and I'm much more understanding of the topic; thanks :)
As for the shot, I wouldn't say it's at all "bad" - I'd be proud of it! Saying that, you did mention cheap equipment. I'd like to see some more of your recent shots if that's the case though :)
Peekayoh: I do it as a favour for family members. However, I'm getting paid for a wedding in August based on a recommendation from a family member. I wouldn't know any different to the a230; in my eyes it's still brilliant as I'm still new to DSLR photography.
Thanks for the tips guys; it's really helped!
my suggestion/comment... did you use a tripod and a remote shutter control? the building is a bit wobbly, manually pressing and releasing the shutter button can shake the camera, while a wireless remote removes that shake.
Using a remote release whilst on a tripod is good practice however, with shutter speeds in the 8/10 sec. bracket, that's unlikely to be an issue and shaking from the passing traffic is a more likely culprit. If the tripod is at all flimsy you may even find that adding downward pressure with your own bodyweight can improve stability.
I notice you were using f/22 and whilst diffusion is not an issue for light trails it is elsewhere. Remember a CP filter (if you have one) will give you one stop or you can simply hold an ND8 filter sheet in front of the lens for a 3 stop shift.
No pressure, but taking on a paid wedding is a big responsibility. Clearly, with it's 10MP CCD Sensor, the A230 is not best suited to a Wedding shoot; you may get away with 10MP but the highISO capability stinks.
As you're not fussed about video, you may be better off with the A580 rather than the A55; same sensor but better colour depth, dynamic range, highISO but frame rate is limited to 5fps. Knowing you can go to ISO 1250/1600 without a qualm is reassuring when you're shooting in the Church/Reception and iso3200 is still doable; August may not give you much in the way of Sun either.
I'd be intersted to know what lenses you propose using; a Wedding photog would normally rely mainly on two zooms in the range of 24-70mm (16-50mm equiv.) and 70-210mm (45-140mm equiv). That's not written in stone of course and I know of Photogs who shoot mainy with primes but they are using at least two bodies.
You're going to need flash at the reception so you need to brush up your technique on bounce/diffused flash and have a pretty clear idea of how you will tackle things in terms of balancing flash and ambient.
I'd definitely advise an assistant even if only to carry gear and offer moral support.
I've recently purchased a remote control and I was using a tripod. Thanks for the weight tip. I'll make sure to put it into practice.
I've done weddings before as I've had experience working for wedding photographers. However, I was using their cameras which were high end Nikons (I can't remember models).
The lenses I own are...
Sony SAL1855 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 zoom lens
Sony 50mm AF f/1.8 prime lens
Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di LD (Waiting for a postage dispute with this one)
I also own a Metz Mecablitz 36 flash gun with a diffuser and I'm in the process of getting to know more about light, bouncing flash and diffusing the former. I am a right "noob" when it comes to photography gear as I've been using my kit lens and nothing else since I got my camera (truth is I've never been able to afford to buy anything or be overly enthusiastic about spending hundreds of pounds)
I appreciate your advice Peekayoh. I'll be wanting to buy the a65 before August considering the limited ISO performance of the a230.
I remember that night!!!
Originally Posted by Dread Pirate Roberts
Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk