Personally I prefer shooting at night however a lot of photographers don’t venture out to try this genre of photography. åÊWhether this is due to lack of time in the evenings or simply that a lot of people feel that night photography is too difficult to get right and achieve great images….. well, it’s not! åÊWith the right planning and a bit ofåÊingenuityåÊ(if needed), night photography is a great way to capture images which show how different the world is after dark. Equipment It is desirable to own (or borrow) the following for a night photography shoot;
- DSLR Camera
- Remote Release
- Map or pre planned location for the shoot
- Spare batteries
- Spare memory
White balance settings are a tricky one at night as there is a lot of artificial light about (street lamps, illuminated signs etc). åÊAlthough this light can be used to great effect within reflections and as ambient lighting effects, it can also be adjusted in post processing if you shoot in RAW. Make sure that you bracket your shots when shooting at night, this gives you varying images based on your initial settings, as shot, slightly underexposed and slightly overexposed (aim to bracket at about 3 stops), most DSLR’s will have the ability to automatically bracket shots for you rather than you having to change the setting manually. åÊDuring post processing you then have a choice of which of the images to use or you can combine them into 1 HDR image. Take loads of shots as the lighting conditions change, the more shots you have, the more likely it will be that you will capture the perfect shot of the evening. I find that taking loads of long exposure shots tends to wear the battery down quicker than usual due to the amount of processing that the camera has to cope with. åÊIt is a good idea not to use the preview screen as this will also wear the battery down (I never use this anyway out of personal preference).
Possibly the most important element during night photography is the ability to ensure that the camera is completely still during exposure. åÊUsing the camera’s mirror lock setting will also help to reduce vibration. åÊMost DSLR’s use a mirror to allow you to see what you are taking a photo of, just before the exposure starts when you take the photo the mirror flips up and this can cause vibration and as such a blurred image (this is usually a tiny amount of blur). åÊMirror Lock stops this from happening by flipping the mirror up earlier and therefore giving more time for the vibrations to stop before the exposure starts. You can also employ your cameras illuminated screen at night to easily see the settings you currently have for the next shot, if you do not have this option then just grab a torch before heading out. A sturdy tripod will help to achieve this but is not the only consideration when making sure that there isåÊabsolutelyåÊno movement during the shot. Image Stabilisation is also a feature that many DSLR’s include and this should be used during night time shooting although if you do not have this feature then the combination of a tripod and mirror lock should suffice. åÊIf you do not have a tripod then you can use a variety of other tools and aids to keep the camera still, using a bean bag or even a coat or jumper ‘can’ be enough for medium length exposures.
Remote releases are another great tool for night photography as they allow you to control the camera without physically having to depress the shutter button on the camera body and therefore causing movement. åÊDecent remotes also offer the choice of exposure times which are not available on the camera itself as you can select anything using second, minutes and even hours. åÊRemotes can also offer settings to shoot repeatedly at set intervals for time lapse photography. åÊIf you do not have a remote then you can use the cameras self timer, these vary from camera to camera (mine can be either 10 or 2 seconds). You can use the ‘Bulb’ setting on your camera to give you freedom regarding your choice of exposure time however this may involve having to depress the shutter at the start of the exposure and then again at the end or even having to hold the shutter down consistently during the exposure, both of these will increase the chance of camera shake and blur.
Night photography doesn’t only start when the light has completely disappeared, 20 minutes to 1/2 hour either side of sunset offer varying light conditions and in turn various opportunities for great photos, full of golden natural light mixed with the emerging artificial light from the city/town. åÊThe sky during this time turns from the light blue of the daytime, through golden, red and yellow to a dark blue just before the light completely fades. Be careful to check for strong light sources which although not actually in the frame can cause flare which could ruin your photograph. åÊAvoid these by repositioning yourself so that the light is not a factor or, if your feeling steady handed, you can block the light source for the duration of the exposure with a black card or similar. åÊIf you want to include areas of bright light then you should really try and capture these before the light has completely gone (dusk) as the contrast between their light and the surrounding darker areas will be less of an issue. Night Photography Ideas Light Streaks – Any traffic at night will cause åÊlight streaks due to the headlights and the exposure of the image. åÊUse the settings described above and you will capture light streaks, the tick is where to go to get great images rather than just a black photo with red and white streaks through it (unless this is what you want?!). åÊRoads surrounded by other ambient light is a good start as this will enable you to capture other interest and create an overall mood, objects such as coloured lit signs and office blocks with hundreds of lit windows are a great backdrop for urban night shots.Cityscapes - As per the main article. For more example see my previous gallery posts;
- London Skyline And Canary Wharf
- Millennium Bridge, London Town