Night photography can be a little tricky for beginners because the settings used are the complete opposite of what we use to shoot in the daytime. In the daytime we have plenty of natural light coming from the sky via the sun. However, with nighttime photography we have to work with other sources of light because the moon just didn’t give off the same amount of light as the sun. Here are some tips for capturing great natural light images at night.
What You Need:
A tripod is a must for night photography because of the settings and slow shutter speeds you will be using.
A camera that allows you to shoot in manual mode is also essential.
A lens with a wide aperture is ideal for night photography in order to get enough light into your images.
A remote will also come in handy to help avoid camera shake using long exposures. When shooting with long exposures your camera can be very sensitive to any movement, even when on a tripod. A simple push of a button could cause just enough movement to take away from the sharpness of your image.
Your settings, just like in any lighting situation, will depend on exactly how much light you are working with. If you are shooting a lit up scene from a distance, your camera needs to be able to pick up on that light. Likewise, if you are in the center of a well-lit area, your settings wouldn’t need to be as sensitive to light.
Chances are you will need to shoot at a higher ISO to allow your sensor to be more sensitive to light. Keep in mind that shooting at higher ISO settings means you run the chance of getting more “noise” in your images.
Your Aperture settings will also need to be as wide as you can get away with. Aperture determines the size of the opening at the end of your lens. This means the wider it is, the more light you will be allowing in.
Shutter Speed settings will need to be much slower than you typically shoot with. That is why you need a tripod and remote. Slower shutter speeds can also capture motion with moving vehicles, etc. This can give interesting and visually appealing life to your night images.
Each of these settings will need to be adjusted according to the scene you are shooting. The best thing to do is to set up your shot, and adjust them all accordingly and take several different shots until you get the exposure just right.
What To Shoot At Night:
Lighting storms can allow you to capture interesting images. Use very slow shutter speeds to allow time to capture the strikes rather than trying to time it just right. The longer your shutter is open, the better chance you have of possibly capturing more than one strike per image.
City scenes also make for great photo opportunities at night. The lights from buildings, street lights, traffic lights, etc. can give you a lot of great colors to pick up on leaving you with visually appealing photos.
When shooting with the natural lights provided in a night scene, remember exposure is key. This requires you to think differently than you do when shooting during the day.
One huge advantage of night photography is that it really gives beginners an idea of the three main exposure settings (ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed) and how they work together.
Be patient, take the time to set up your shots and get your settings just right, and take advantage of the night scenes around you. With the right equipment and a little knowledge you can begin to capture stunning nighttime images!