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  • March 06, 2018
  • 9 min to read

8 Night Photography Tips & Ideas

8 Night Photography Tips & Ideas

For many photographers, the ideal time to take photos is during the twilight hours. However, there's something to be said for pictures snapped soon after. Nighttime images - when done right - can convey an incredible atmosphere that's impossible to duplicate at any other time during the day.

Here are some essential tips on taking the perfect shots at night.

1. Use a Tripod, Set a Timer

Long exposures are necessary to create an impressive nighttime shot. For this, you'll need to use a tripod which allows you the flexibility to get the angles you want.

To avoid a slight blur often associated with using a tripod, use your camera's self-timer. Depending on the conditions on the ground, this simple act of not touching your camera could be the difference between taking a good shot and a great one.

You should also consider using a lens hood to minimize lens flares and went a flashlight. The latter can help you draw attention to or lighten up an essential part of your foreground when it's too dark with ease.

As professional photographer Jay Siegel notes, having a tripod or some other way to steady the camera is essential. "Patience. Trial and error on exposure time (and) willingness to experiment with angles and locations" are also necessary.

2. Manual Focus

Though Auto Focus keeps getting better with each generation of cameras, Manual Focus is still the best way to go to get more precise control over your shots. Auto Focus, especially in low light, is difficult to pull off making Manual Focus the ideal solution.

When using Manual Focus at night, be sure to hold the camera steady, however.

3. Increase the Depth of Field

Work with a large depth of field, especially when dealing with large structures such as buildings when lights are involved. The depth of field is the area that stretches in the front and behind your main focal point. It has an impact on both the aesthetic and technical quality of a photograph.

4. Up Your ISO Settings

You might need to increase your ISO settings during nighttime shots. However, just remember that increasing your ISO will inevitably lead to more noise on your images. Therefore, set your ISO the highest you can while still avoiding this noise.

According to Heather Necessary of Blue Dog Imaging, this is extremely important.

"For night time shots you need a tripod or a camera with a very high ISO rating. The shutter will be open too long to hand hold if you don't have a high ISO. And you need patience since you might need to do a few shots to get the image you are looking for," she explains.

5. Remove the Flash

You can avoid an "over-lit" nighttime scenario by turning off the flash when taking a photo. Make sure to turn off Auto mode, and you're on the right track.

6. Use a Long Exposure

During the night, you'll want to allow the dim ambient light to sufficiently reach the image sensor, thereby requiring a prolonged exposure. Start with 30 seconds and go from there, depending on your preferences.

Please note that the longer the exposure, the longer it will take for the camera to render and process your images. Take a deep breathe and relax; you've got this.

7. Bring Extra Batteries

Because nighttime shots require a more extended exposure, your camera's battery is going to get a workout. Therefore, be sure to carry plenty of spare batteries to get the job done. If you don't, you're doing to miss the opportunity and have to come back the next night.

8. Location, Location, Location

You should always look for a nighttime location with an eye-catching landscape. Ideally, the farther away from the city, the better. Doing so will help you to avoid that nasty light pollution.

If you can't avoid taking nighttime photos in the city, Siegel advises looking for reflections to add interest. "Wet roads really bring that out if it has been raining," he explains.

You should also watch the weather forecast. Cloud cover is not your friend at night. Avoid it at all costs.

Getting the perfect nighttime shot requires following a few simple rules, trial and error, and plenty of patience. Once you get it down, however, you can expect lots of praise and kudos.  

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