Tips for Shooting Night Photography
Many digital photography beginners tend to stick to daytime shots, apprehensive about their night shooting skills. If you're looking to take the leap into night photography, or just don't seem to take that many night time photographs, here are a few simple tips to help you on your way. If you need a reason to start, check out my post 5 Reasons to Start Shooting Night Photography.
USE A TRIPOD
A tripod is an absolute must if you're shooting nightscapes because you will be using a slow shutter speed and want to avoid camera shake. Even the slightest movement will result in a blurred image. Furthermore using a remote shutter release while shooting night photography will help ensure your images are sharp.
Industrial Architecture is a favorite subject of mine to shoot at night. These are usually lit up beautifully at night with various towers and levels that help to create a captivating composition.
USE LIVE VIEW
If your camera supports live view, I suggest using it to focus. It can be difficult to focus on a dark object, so turn on live view and test your image sharpness to see where your focus point is.
TRY TO SHOOT IN THE FIRST HOUR BEFORE SUNRISE OR AFTER SUNSET
This is necessary to prevent streetlights from stopping you capturing detail or colors in the sky. It also can provide a stunning background of soft blues, oranges, pinks, and yellows in the sky to add interest to your image. The image below was taken just before sunrise to capture the color in the sky while still taking advantage of the building's lighting.
To learn more about shooting during the blue hour, go to my article A Helpful Guide for Shooting Blue Hour Photography.
TAKE A TEST SHOT AT A HIGH ISO
When shooting night photography, you don't want to sit around for 30 seconds or even minutes to see if your test shot is going to work out. The best way to get a test, without wasting a lot of time, is to take one at a much higher ISO than you would ordinarily use. I usually jack my ISO up to 10,000 just to make sure my image is composed correctly, then dial it back to where I want it and take the picture. Always keep your ISO at the lowest setting possible to avoid unwanted noise.
View more of my architectural photography work by visiting my page Architectural Exteriors.
- BRING A FLASHLIGHT
A flashlight will come in handy often with night photography since you will be out after dark. Using a flashlight to light your subject while focusing on your scene will help with image sharpness. Just remember to turn off the flashlight before you click the shutter.
TRY SETTING YOUR CAMERA TO BULB MODE
Bulb mode is the only setting you can use to get exposures longer than 30 seconds. Most times 30 seconds is a long enough exposure, but other shots may require keeping the shutter open longer. On Bulb mode the shutter stays open for as long as the shutter is depressed. This is another point for using a remote shutter release. It allows you to lock the shutter open without having to hold it down on your camera, possibly causing camera shake and blurry images.
Night photography really isn't that complicated. You just need to get out there and start shooting! That's the beauty of digital photography, practicing is easy and you can keep at it until you're pleased with the results. To learn how to get better images with a wide angle lens, read my article Wide Angle Photography Tips.
I hope this article has inspired you to go out into the night and see how beautiful our world can be under the lights and the moon. I’d love to hear your thoughts and techniques in the comments.
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