Friday, May 27, 2011

Night Photography Tips

Photography at night can yield amazing results if done right, but it is also a major hurdle for beginners in photography. Instead of blaming the equipment, let’s look at refining our technique. In this article I will suggest a few settings for night photography.


Fireworks Photography

The fireworks picture below was taken with a technique involving holding a black card in front of an open shutter. In manual exposure mode, set the shutter speed to 20-30 seconds (or use bulb mode), an aperture of F11 to F16 and an ISO setting of 100 or 200. Using the bulb mode on your DSLR, you can get the shutter to stay open as long as required. If you are using the bulb mode, a remote shutter release is very useful to avoid getting camera shake (yes it can happen even on a sturdy tripod). 

Timing is Crucial
The single most important tip I can give you regarding night photography is to get a good tripod. With a sturdy tripod, you can use the most basic camera and lens and come out with a winning shot. Armed with a tripod, the next thing to do is to scout for a good location where you can set up your tripod and wait for the twilight hour when the amount of ambient light matches the amount of artificial light. This creates pictures where the sky is a deep blue color, perfect for offsetting the man-made lights in the scene. If you are shooting a low ISO setting like 100 at this time, and your aperture in the F11-F16 range, your shutter speed will drop to a level where it is not possible to hold your camera steady. That is why you need a tripod.
Shooting Light Trails
Use a small aperture (which means a big F-number like F16) to get starburst effects on street lamps like in the picture below, taken in Ubud, Bali. Not only does a small aperture give you more depth-of-field (which means objects are sharp from front to back), it also enables you to get longer shutter speeds, which contribute to the long red lines created by the tail-lights of passing motorists. Or white lines created by their headlights. The easiest mode to shoot this is Aperture Priority.


55 comments:

  1. Awesome tips! I will be sure to keep them in mind next time i shoot in the night.

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  2. Very inspiring, I love night photography.

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  3. Wow great info and amazing pictures! I especially like the second one, because of the sky.

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  4. Awesome, I loved the second pic! Gotta love small aperture, it's great how it captures light, take care!

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  5. It looks really cool, especially the lights.

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  6. Wow man! I'v never managed to get such good night pics. I need to read into this!

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  7. Great blog man. help me too :)

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  8. Have you ever tried light painting. not the one where you set the aperture to forever and go write stuff with light on the film. but setting the aperture to like 15 second and then have a flash light and just kinda use quick burst of light to "paint" paint the object on the film

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  9. @Grant I will blog about Light Painting soon, I love that technique

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  10. Thanks for the tips; you're awesome!

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  11. 2nd pic is downright gorgeous. Great tips.

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  12. Do you have an online portfolio where we can watch all your photos?

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  13. you should make a post of some of your own work, i'd be interested in seeing that

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  14. Please keep making these guides! It's a wonderful resource. Do you have a recommendation for model/brand of a cheap digital camera? I'd love to start documenting work and life seriously

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  15. Excellent photography tips!

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  16. wow these pictures are so good

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  17. The Ubud pictures is surreal.

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  18. nice tips and nice blog nice one following

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  19. Where do you get all these amazing pictures?

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  20. always wanted a photo camera mayby one day I will buy and I'll surely use your tips

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  21. Great tips! and nice pictures! love light trail pictures

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  22. Long shutter speeds are the thing when photographing city life at night.

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  23. Thanks! my night shots usually never turn out well. Ill use some of these tips next time

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  24. Some amazing pics/tips! always very informative ;D

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  25. Wonderful pictures, like always :) I love your tips, they're easy to understand, good for n00bs like me :P

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  26. I've always found those smooth light trails look kind of futuristic. Nice work, man!

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  27. Very nice exposure on the second one, good work!

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  28. Thank you so much for the tut on firework photography, recently i was trying it w/out a tripod and a fast shutter speed. some pics turned out okay. :)

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  29. I wish I had read this about a month ago, my shots turned out very bad.

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  30. my photos are always blurry. the ones i take with my phone. meh. there's no way around it methinks. :/

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  31. great tips as allways! i like you ^^

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  32. Thanks for all the awesome tips! =D

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  33. These pictures always want to make me start saving for a nice camera. Thanks for the tips.

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  34. Damn, I don't have a tripod, I need one ;P

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  35. Those three are just beautiful.

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  36. Love the trails, despite being just a compact I picked up the Canon SX230 HS because it has more control like this and it was way cheaper than jumping into a Dslr which I wouldn't use properly anyways!

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  37. Really good tips. I take photos now and again.

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  38. Nice. I've held white cards up to cameras to set the whites, but I've never tried it with the darks

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  39. how do you feel about aperture science

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  40. Yeah man! love night photography! me and mates back at home used to go light painting every week!

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  41. Nice post. I love light painting at night. And long-exposure photos at night. Very cool

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  42. my fav is using a timer (2secs is enough) on the camera so there is no shake from depressing the button when taking a picture

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  43. thank you so much for the tips!

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