Low light photography

Night photography in the city

Night photography


Night photography in the city always throws up many many options for creative image making, using the artificial light and movement to enhance your photographs.
Shooting night photography in the city or in the landscape at night requires a few special disciplines.
First of all your exposures need to be spot on. It’s quite easy to over expose your photos in the nightime. Make sure you know how to control your exposures. I recommend working in Manual Mode, this will allow you full control over your exposures.
Use of a tripod is also recommended so that you do not introduce any camera shake into the picture. It is of course possible to shoot night scenes hand held and I do frequently do this.
For example I know that I can hadn’t hold at 1/30s or even less sometimes but this might require using a high ISO, typically something like 1600 or 3200. I might typically aim for an aperture of f5.6 and a shutter speed of 1/30s depending on the situation.
Of course it all depends on how bright your scene is. In a large city like Las Vegas where I shot this image of the palm trees there is usually a reasonable amount of artificial light.That said the image was shot with settings of 1/4s shutter speed and aperture of f4 with an ISO setting of 1600.
As I did not have a tripod with me at the time I rested the camera up against another tree holding ti as firmly as possible, this allowed the slow shutter speed to be used without the introduction of any camera shake.
However you need to be quite experienced and I’ll go back to my point about exposures.
But the crucial point I will make is to know our ISO settings! Using this kind of high ISO rating will start to introduce grain or noise. This is usually easily removed in post-production but you should aim to keep your ISO as low as possible.
Of course with the use of a tripod this is easily achieved. You can really use any combination of shutter speed aperture and ISO.
When using a tripod you might try using ams ISO of 400. This will keep noise or grain to a minimum. However with a lower ISO setting you will need to use longer shutter speeds maybe 1-second or longer so be careful about subject blur. When anything in the frame moves during a longer exposure it will record as a blur or a streak.
This can of course be used creatively e.g. when photographing cars moving along a road at night the lights will record as streams of light as long as you camera is mounted on a tripod.
Any buildings will remain perfectly in focus creating a pleasing effect of lights running along the road like a river of colour.
I find night photography can be very productive, you often see things (quite literally) in different light to the daytime. Often the daytime subjects that might seem quite mundane take on a new appearance with moving lights, floodlit scenes and glowing skies.
So just experiment and find your favourite effect by changing shutter speeds and altering your ISO settings.

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