Well, if you ask me, Night Photography is one of the toughest when it comes to taking pictures. Especially for amateur photographers, it may get really irritating to capture some really good looking nights. But, when you know the trick, it’s quite easy to handle them shots effectively.
What’s the trick?
The trick is simple…. Slow shutter speed!! There cant be much argument in this. There are other methods as well but this one always work! Before we continue, let me tell you how lowering the shutter speed increases the brightness (exposure) in your pictures.
In low shutter speed, the shutter is kept open for a long time (lesser the speed = longer the exposure) and the camera is allowed to see as much details as possible. it’s same like we humans! if I ask you to blink at this post and asked you to reproduce, you can recall only a few words but if I allow you to see this post for 1 minute, you can recall more data. simple 🙂
In night times, we dont have natural light and the artificial lights may vary in brightness and that’s why I mentioned night photography is kinda hard to capture. the pictures may either go too bright (long exposures) or too dark (less exposure/less ISO combo) or blurry (absence of tripod)
What gear you may need to capture nights
- Shutter Release button
- DSLR with Aperture Priority
- ND Filters
Please note that all the above listed are not must-haves! You can always find an alternative method to resolve the problem. Tripods are needed to avoid camera shake and its not really possible to hold the camera in hand during long exposures. Alternatively, place the camera in a stable surface (beware, don’t lose your DSLR by placing it on the cliffs and dodgy surfaces) 😉
Shutter release button is needed only if your are planning to keep the shutter open for more than 30secs (its an auto limit in most of the DSLR makes). Try to use ‘A’ / ‘Av’ mode in your DSLR to compensate the shutter speed with the aperture you set or use ND filters if the image is too bright (alternative method is to bring the ISO value down).
Points to remember
Is the picture too dark?
- Increase the Aperture (Less f number)
- Lower the shutter speed (jump to ‘S’ mode if you have to)
- Increase the ISO value (noise may appear in higher ISO values)
Is the image too bright?
- Decrease the Aperture (Higher f number)
- Increase the shutter speed.
- Decrease the ISO value.
- Use ND filter if you have one.
- Attach the lens hood if you have not.
General note: Shoot more than 1 picture especially if capturing traffic trails because some bright light may dominate the whole scene.
Ideas for Night Photography
Night Traffic – With slow shutter speed, let the vehicle lights to paint streaks of bright lines.
Busy City spots – Major shopping areas of a city usually decorated with lotta neon billboards and shops giving you a chance to capture gorgeous mix of bright colors.
Buildings skyline – nothing is more beautiful than capturing tall lit skyscrapers! Cheery on top if you able to capture the reflection as well in any water surface 😉
Silhouettes – Place the subject before a light source to produce a moody outline of the subject (try not to make the subject pitch black)
Fireworks – Nothing much will match the interest in the picture brought by colorful fireworks. (start the shot during the early explosion to capture the streaks)
Wandering the city in the middle of a night with a camera in hand will definitely look dodgy but some of the brightest shots were taken in the dark! it’s fun! give it a try 🙂
Any more ideas? Please post it below for our readers….