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When is the best time to shoot?
Just before and after the sun goes down. Changing light gives more possibilities. Same applies to sunrise.
What equipment do I need?
- A digital camera capable of long exposures and a sturdy tripod.
- Noise reduction systems are found on recent cameras so be sure to enable it.
- An extra battery may be required as long exposures drain batteries quickly. A small torch or led headtorch is essential.
What camera settings?
- Try and set up you camera before venturing out of doors especially in winter.
- Set to manual exposure mode.
- Chose an f stop around mid range.
- Shutter speed is a matter of trial and error, start with 1 sec. and go up depending on results.
- Set the ISO speed to minimum to reduce noise.
- Use manual focus if your auto focus is struggling.
What about location?
- City centre and tourist attractions with lots of reflective surfaces are ideal After rain provides excellent opportunities and waterfronts or rivers banks are ideal.
- Moving traffic leaves a trail of light and can be spectacular.
- For country shoots try for a full moon shot. The moon can give off a surprising amount of light.
What subjects are suitable?
- Look for interesting features such as buildings, sculptures, natural features such as trees.
- Or perhaps less recognisable structures taken from odd angles.
- People tend not to show up if moving through the shot and if static will not be sharp and clear.
- Try for backlighting or even an off camera flash to highlight a feature.
How to start?
- Long exposures are the key to great results.Exposure time is your friend in night photography.
- Try a one second exposure and review the result.
- If underexposed increase the exposure time and open up a stop.
- If overexposed reduce the exposure time and close down a stop.
- Review and adapt until you get the result you want.
- If you run out of options with exposure time and aperture you can increase the iso speed.
What about composition?
- Bear in mind the digital camera will pick up more colour strength than your eyes at night so be ambitious when it comes to colour.
- Perspective is also our friend so take account of it and make use of it to give depth to the shot.
- Look for lines that lead the eye into the picture, diagonals are useful.
- Textures can be useful when strong but don't expect the same dramatic effects you would expect in daylight.
- Prepare beforehand by getting to know your camera modes.
- Study images produced by other night photographers.
- Get to know what images appeal to you and grab your imagination.
- Look for the unusual, the unexpected occurence.
- Blocks of coloured light, decorative dynamic lighting such as neon as well as traffic trails. Weave them into your image.
- Look for symmetry especially where reflections and water are involved.
- Movement brings an image to life, use it.