Night photography is a subject many people shy away from, but there are some fantastic opportunities for pictures when the sun goes down. Some photographers believe that night photography is only possible with specialist equipment, but getting great shots is more about taking the right approach than having fancy gear.
Taking night shots is easier than most people think. If you have a camera, a tripod, and a subject you can take some great night shots. With a creative approach, you can produce some amazing night shots with a very basic camera, such as one on a smartphone. The light that’s the foundation of your pictures can be artificial light, moonlight, or ambient light from the atmosphere just after sunset.
City skylines are an obvious choice for night photography, and these are a great place to start. Modern cities are lit with a variety of colors, and they take on a different atmosphere as the sun sets. The lights from shops, offices and restaurants can be incorporated to capture a city in a new and exciting way. It’s important to consider the time of day when taking this type of photographs, and a mix of daylight and artificial light works really well. Rather than waiting until it’s completely dark, experiment with some shots at dusk. The ambient light around sunset mixed with the artificial lights from buildings can produce amazing photographs.
A digital SLR camera is the ideal choice of night photography. The flexibility to adjust the camera’s settings manually gives many more creative choices. Longer exposure times and wide apertures are needed for night shots, and a digital SLR’s settings can be changed to select these. Fitting the camera to a tripod means you can take very long exposures without the image blurring. Using a tripod means you can capture the movement of traffic as light trails, and these make fantastic shots.
Digital compact cameras can also be used to take night pictures. Many of these cameras have a night setting which will adjust settings to allow the sensor to absorb more light. Smartphones area another option, and these can produce great night shots with a little creative thought. If using a more basic camera, experiment using flash to light the foreground of a picture. Abstract pictures are a further option if you have limited technical control over the images.
Whatever type of camera you are using, it’s important to experiment and to take lots of shots at different settings. Look at shots on the camera’s screen as you take them, and adjust the exposure settings if pictures appear too dark. If you are using a digital SLR camera, work with wide-angle lenses or zooms which allow you to take wide shots. These lenses are generally faster, and allow more light to enter the camera’s sensor.
Let your creativity flow, and be prepared to break the normal rules of photography. Night photography is challenging and you will experience disappointments, but as you become more experienced your results will improve. Once in a while you will produce a truly amazing picture.