Night photography is fun because in the day time we only have one light source, that is our sun but in the night, there are different lights like neon signs, led boards, street lights and traffic lights. These lights have different colors and intensity and due to this, everything looks different and extraordinary.
Most of the photographers are scared of night photography. They believe it’s very difficult but if you know about your camera and with some practice, it’s as easy as day time photography. Today let’s talk about some tips and tricks for night photography.
Equipment: No special equipment required for night photography, the only must-have gear is a tripod. It’s an essential as light is low so we need to set a lower shutter speed and to prevent camera shake, it’s necessary that your camera is on a sturdy tripod.
If you have a full frame camera, it’s an advantage for you because it produces fewer grains compare to a crop sensor camera. A fast lens like f/1.8 or f1.4 is again good for night photography. A fast lens lets you shoot at higher shutter speed. If you don’t have these, don’t worry. We can click in a way that it produces fewer grains and we always reduce that using the software.
A remote shutter release cable is also handy as it’ll prevent camera shake.
What to shoot: Now we have all the required equipment, so the second question is what to shoot in the night time. Well, you have many options.
Cityscape: Cityscape is the favorite topic for many photographers. In the night all the buildings have different color lights and capturing those buildings is very satisfying for a photographer. If your city is near some water body, try to capture the reflection of the city in that water.
Buildings and Monuments: Every city has some famous buildings and monuments. In the day time, it looks ordinary but in the night it starts looking fabulous due to lighting and also there are fewer tourists at night.
Portraits: If you are shooting portraits in the daytime only, you are missing the fun of night-time portraits. In the night we have different color lights around our subject, we can capture entirely different looking portraits.
Star Trails and Milky Way Galaxy: You can also shoot star trails and Milky Way galaxy but you have to go far from that city where there is no air and light pollution.
Other than that light trails are a very interesting subject for night photography, you can also go to the local markets and capture city life.
How to shoot: There are two kinds of subjects. First still subjects like buildings and monuments and second moving subjects like portraits or city life. In case of still subject, set the ISO to the lowest number so your picture doesn’t have grains and set a narrow aperture like f/8 or f/11 to get end to end sharpness in the frame. Make sure your camera is on a tripod and connected with shutter release cable. Now no matter if your shutter speed is one second or even more, you will always get a sharp picture because that building is still.
But if you are capturing a moving subject, you need to use high ISO and wider aperture so that you can get enough shutter speed to freeze your subject. As per the rule, your shutter speed should be equivalent to the focal length of your lens. It means if you are shooting at 100mm, your minimum shutter speed should be 1/100 seconds. If you are on crop sensor camera, add the crop factor in the above calculation. If you are not familiar with the crop factor, just multiply with 1.5. So if you are using 100 mm lens on a crop body, your minimum shutter speed should be 1/150 seconds.
Now there is a third situation where your subject is moving but still, you want to use slow shutter speed and that is light trails. In this case, you want to show the movements, and again a tripod and shutter release cable is a must.
Things to remember: There are a few points which you need to remember while doing night photography.
1. Shoot in RAW: Always shoot in raw because low light produces more grains. With a RAW image, it’s easier to reduce grains compare to jpg. Also if you lost some details, it’s easy to recover with RAW files.
2. Use a tripod and remote cable: A tripod is a must for night photography because most of the time shutter speed comes very low. It’s not possible to capture a one-second exposure handheld without shaking the camera. So use a tripod and don’t forget to use a remote shutter cable to prevent camera shake.
3. Don’t afraid to increase ISO wherever required: When you are shooting handheld or your subject is moving and you need high shutter speed, don’t afraid to increase ISO. It’s easy to reduce the grains using the software but it’s not possible to fix a blurry photo due to camera shake.
4. Go for Manual Exposure: Always shoot in manual mode so you have more control over exposure and always expose for highlights. If you lose the details in highlights, it’s impossible to bring it back.
5. Bring an artificial light: If you are planning to shoot portraits it’s a good idea to bring a flash. With a flash, you can expose your subject properly. If you have a wireless flash, it would be even better. And always carry a torch so if you have to change the lens or change settings of your camera in dark place, you can easily do it.
6. Use lens hood: Use a lens hood to prevent lens flare and safety of your lens.
7. Get creative: Use your imagination to click more creative shots like if you find a water puddle, get low and use it to capture the reflection of some monument. Or use your mobile screen in front of your camera to capture the reflection. In the case of portraits, you may use gels with your flash to create moody portraits.
So let’s bring your camera and click some amazing photos tonight. All the best.
Related Article: How to shoot car light trails with MIOPS Mobile Remote?
About the Author
Ramakant Sharda is an author, iOS App publisher, passionate photographer and a MIOPS Ambassador based in the beautiful “Pink City” of India, known as Jaipur. His work has been published in various magazines, newspapers, and blogs. He has published three Coffee Table Books, he writes about photography and also teaches photography in his workshops. Check out his website http://ClickManic.com to see the masterpieces created by him or download his free app for iPhone and iPad “30 Days to an Ace Photographer“.