Even though night photography falls into landscape/cityscape area, it has some particularities that are in place purely due to darkness of the environment. And majority of the night photos look amazing due to the very same reason. Night photography definitely has some magic to it.
Some may find a bit hard to master this area of photo art, however, it’s well worth spending time on. Once you get your head around those differences between day and night photography, you will be able to shoot photos that really stand out. Below we have put together a few tips for beginners to consider.
Your own safety
It may sound a bit like a cliché, but before you move out of the house in the middle of the night with an expensive piece of equipment, please make sure that you know the area well. Not all places on our gorgeous planet are equally safe. It’d be even better if you could talk some of your friends or other photographers to join you for this session. After all photo walks with likeminded people are even more fun. Stay safe.
Unless you are shooting in a very warm climate, please note that batteries run out faster in cold night temperatures. Also long exposure shots help drain those a bit quicker. So, charge everything chargeable to their fullest. And grab a jacket for yourself too – you may not need it in the beginning, but standing near some water body trying to take a Moon reflection photo when you are shivering from cold is no fun.
Tripod is a necessary tool for taking night photos. Long exposure images are never shot hand held. The only exception would be night portraits, where you use faster shutter speeds and a flash. But even then a tripod would come handy. Another thing you might grab with you to prevent any camera shake is a remote shutter trigger. If you don’t have one at hand, then a workaround for you is setting your shutter to a 2sec timer. This way you press the shutter button and before it acts you can take your hands off the camera. Other thing that you may need is some sort of rain cover or a plastic bag. It may not be raining but moisture condensation on your equipment is really the thing to avoid.
Night landscape/cityscape photography means long exposures. Even though higher ISO numbers are meant to shoot in low light, we advise setting your ISO to the lowest possible and decrease shutter speed instead to compensate this. With a tripod it doesn’t really matter if you keep your shutter open for one more second, but lower ISO would produce less noise, so – less work in post-processing.
Using a flash
It really depends on what you are shooting. If it’s a cityscape/landscape then you can leave your flash at home. It won’t lighten up the entire scene no matter how powerful your flash is. However, if you are getting creative with night portraits or with a technique called “light-painting” then take your flash and maybe a pocket torch with you.
Light-painting technique is worth special attention, so we will talk about it in one of our upcoming posts. Happy shooting!