Night photography is one of the most interesting types of photography. Some people think it’s difficult, but with a little practice it can be mastered. Unlike daytime photography when the best source of lighting—the sun—is easily available, night photography requires additional creativity.
At night, a mood is created automatically because of the darkness. What that mood will actually be is up to the photographer, and it’s based on available light such as the last glimmers of a setting sun, the moon or city lights, specific lighting techniques, and the subject itself. This is where the creativity comes in.
Here are a few tips:
1) Think about objects that would be great to photograph at night. Picking the right subject to focus on is crucial to your result. Some things photograph better in the dark than others. Cityscapes are a good example.
2) Use a tripod and a timer to take imbalance and unsteadiness out of the equation—it will do wonders for your final result unless your objective is a slightly blurred photo. The timer minimizes contact with the camera.
3) Take advantage of your camera’s preset night mode settings if you’re a beginner. When you get more confident, you can switch to manual. Practice using your camera settings so when the right moment arrives, you’re ready to capture it.
4) Evaluate lighting. Depending on the distance between you and your subject and the source of lighting (street lights, building lights, etc.) a flash may or may not be required. If there’s no source of light, then you might need to use alternative methods of lighting to create that special mood. A flashlight or floodlight could enhance small objects but, for larger objects, your car headlights can illuminate the area quite effectively. Get creative.
5) Adjust your ISO. When light is limited, a longer shutter exposure will capture more light and create sharper images.
6) Take several shots simultaneously. Night shots are fleeting and fade quickly, and you don’t want to miss that perfect shot. This is especially true for sunsets and subjects that move such as illuminated fountains, fireworks, or lightning.
Following some of these simple tips can help you achieve a successful night photo shoot. Remember to plan accordingly, assess the lighting, have the right equipment, be familiar with night settings on your camera, and get creative! With practice, you’ll soon be ready for that perfect night shot.