Taking pictures during the night can be very trying for amateurs. In fact, night photography is one of the most difficult aspects of photography to master. The focus of the image is hard to find in the dark and shadows add an extra layer of complexity to the shoot. It requires you to control ISO, aperture, and shutter speed among numerous other considerations. However, there are several rules to follow that can help to simplify the process. When you get familiar with the rudiments, you’ll discover that night photography is great fun. Meet the challenges of night photography head on and you will reap the rewards with some stunning images. Here are twelve actionable hints that any beginner can use to master night photography.
1. Safety First
Bearing in mind that you will be shooting pictures at night, consider your safety first and choose the location of the shoot well. You will inevitably have expensive equipment with you and there are some locations, especially in urban areas, that are unsafe during the evening. Personal security is essential and do not conduct a photo shoot at night alone. Whenever possible, carry out the shoot with one or two people. Working with other people can also help with technical aspects of the photography session.
2. Camera Equipment and Spares
The best cameras to use for night work have manual presentation settings, ideally a SLR (single lens reflex). Programmed cameras are not usually recommended, as they lack the technical ability and flexibility to overcome the dark, shadowy conditions. Another necessity is a sturdy, good quality tripod with an extendable leg to limit slippage. A cable release is likewise required as this will empower you to hold open the shutter speed.
Another thing to consider is that batteries regularly run out in cold conditions, so it is a good idea to take an replacement or in the event that you have none, attempt to completely charge your batteries before leaving the house and continuing with the shoot. You ought to likewise bring a sturdy case for your camera as dampness during the night can undoubtedly get through and cause damage to your camera.
3. Shoot RAW for Best Night Photography Results
JPEG is the ideal ideal format for most casual photographers since the files don’t take up a lot of space on your memory card. JPEG files can likewise be copied without being changed over into another document. There is a compromise however, as the image file is compressed which can lead to loss of quality, especially when shooting with a high dynamic range.
When shooting around evening time, switch your picture files to RAW in your camera’s menu options. RAW documents take up a great deal of room on your memory card, and your pictures should be edited a short time later, but the details and quality of the image is maintained.
RAW is the best choice to prevent grainy pictures because of low light and post-editing. As opposed to JPEG images, RAW records keep up their quality even after editing. After undergoing post-processing your picture record, you can generally change over a RAW document to any configuration you need, including JPEG or PNG.
4. Shoot in Low ISO Settings Wherever Possible
Using high ISO settings appears the obvious choice when shooting around evening time, yet doing as such increases the noise present in your pictures. The most up to date top of the line cameras nowadays are so good, they enable you to take noiseless pictures at incredibly high ISO settings (up to ISO at least 3200). Despite this, for most cameras on the market with restricted light sensitivity, adhering to a lower ISO yields the best results.
Take the time to learn your camera’s ISO level limits. To do this, step through some low light test shots with various ISO settings. Look at the photographs and discover at which ISO level produces noise. Use ISO 1600 and if that level produces poor results, then stick to lower settings.
Because your camera can shoot up to ISO 25,000 doesn’t mean you should utilize it. Since you’re using a tripod, you can keep the ISO low. Rather than knocking up the ISO, utilize slower screen speeds and wider apertures. ISO 100 might be unsuitable for night photography, however ISO 400, 800, or even ISO 1600 ought to be sufficient much of the time.
5. Experiment with Test Shots
Taking photographs at night is different from taking photographs in the daytime, night photography requires better organisation. You can’t just press the shutter when you’re shooting in low light conditions. You have to understand the precise settings to use for your camera, and to do that, you have to step through some sample shots.
Stepping through test shots lets you explore different avenues regarding distinctive imaginative shots. In the event that you’re thinking about whether it’s conceivable to capture light streaks, experiment with the settings to make sense of how you can accomplish the shot you need. You can likewise attempt different points of view to make your picture all the more compelling.
Testing enables you to calibrate your camera settings. In the event that your underlying settings created a dull picture, simply alter it until you locate the right presentation. Play around with various ISO levels, aperture, and shutter speeds. To start with, take a normal photo in either aperture or speed priority. Observe the aperture and speed settings, and modify steadily until you locate the perfect exposure. In the event that you need a speedier, progressively refined strategy, you can attempt additionally have a go at bracketing your shots.
6. Use a Solid Tripod
Before setting out on a night time photography session, make sure you have a good, a durable tripod. Taking photos in dark conditions requires long exposures, which implies your camera must be consistently. still Get one that can deal with a heavy camera, ideally made of aluminium (or carbon fibre) since it’s both light and solid.
Utilize your tripod’s spirit level to decide if your tripod is level or not. You can also turn on your camera’s virtual horizon (regularly found in the camera menu) to ensure your gear is levelled.
Likewise, think about purchasing a small scale tripod for tight angles. At times, the best locations for your night shots might be in spots where ordinary tripods can’t fit. With a smaller than normal tripod, you can create professional night shots starting from ground level or even from table tops.
7. Use Manual Focus
Modern cameras boast superb autofocus technology, yet it is not idiot proof or suitable for every situation. Its shortcomings are particularly clear when taking pictures around evening time, where your camera battles against dim conditions. Utilizing manual focus guarantees your camera doesn’t arbitrarily concentrate on any detail of the scene you’re capturing. Turn your manual focus to infinity. To guarantee that the scene you’re capturing is clear, turn on the Live View Mode and press the Zoom-in catch (the one with the magnifying lens symbol). Amplify the subject you need to be in focus, at that point change until it’s crisp clear.
Try not to switch on the autofocus option during the photography shoot. Else, it will supersede anything manual settings. For some, especially beginners, this system may take some getting used to. However, the benefits over autofocus in poor lighting conditions will become apparent.
8. Experiment with Shutter Speeds
If you need to catch moving items like the vehicles, apply Shutter Priority. Simply select the shutter speed, and the camera naturally chooses the aperture.
This mode allows you capture spectacular light streaks and fantastic scenes at night. As ever, test shots are important to accomplish the desired effect. To shoot beautiful light trails, you can set your camera to low shutter speeds (from 1/30 down to 30 seconds). Simply remember that the slower the shutter speed, the more extended the light trails.
Utilizing the largest aperture setting for long exposures isn’t always required. In some situations, the mix of slow shutter speeds and wide aperture can overexpose a picture. You’d be astonished how much light your camera accumulates even in faintly lit situations. When you’re in Shutter Priority Mode, simply take a look at your camera’s chosen aperture, and you’ll see that it tends to be as little as f/22 for an exposure of a couple of moments long.
Shutter Priority is ideal for shooting the night sky. Common exposure times for shooting stars is between 10 seconds to 30 seconds. Keep in mind that the stars move over the sky, so if you get the exposure settings right and expose the shot for sufficiently long, you’ll see begin seeing star trails.
9. Choose Aperture Priority Mode When Shooting Static Subjects
If you are struggling to get to grips with manual mode, use Aperture Priority. Shooting in this mode gives you the chance to pick the aperture you need and consequently chooses the shutter speed.
Aperture Priority is the fastest method to take pictures during the evening. When you set your camera to this mode and pick a wide aperture, you’re good to go. As long as you’re not shooting moving subjects, this is the most secure approach to night photography.
It’s also ideal for shooting static scenes like architecture and landscapes. Be aware, however, since it doesn’t give you a chance to change the shutter speed physically, it’s difficult to gauge whether moving subjects in your photograph will be blurred or sharp. If you need more control when shooting moving items, then change to Manual Mode or Speed Priority Mode.
10. Implement Bracket Exposures
One critical thing that a beginner must realise in order to master night photography is the way that more drawn out exposures are required for black and white photographs contrasted with shooting in well lit conditions. Shooting in colour will produce shifts in colour.
It can be a real challenge to find the perfect exposure when shooting images in the dark. Try bracketing your shots to take some of the guesswork out of the process. This strategy includes taking a range of photos at various exposures. Each image you take gradually gets more lighter or darker. Usually, one of those photographs will give you the presentation that you need.
You can bracket your exposure automatically or by using manual settings. Take one standard photograph, at that point utilize the Exposure Compensation button in the consequent pictures to change the exposure. The Programmed Bracketing setting is found in your camera’s Shooting Menu.
Aside from giving you a range of exposures in-camera, you can likewise utilise the bracketed pictures to make High Dynamic Range (HDR) images. By consolidating a few pictures in an editing facility, this procedure reproduces the exposure scope and the subtleties that a standard camera can’t reach.
11. Try Different Settings with Bulb Mode
With low light from the moon, most photographers will enhance the light with hand-held flashes, a system known as “painting with light.” Others may likewise utilise motion picture lights and torches as extra lights.
The longest shutter speed for most cameras is around 30 seconds. Be that as it may, some of the time you’ll wind up in circumstances where 30 seconds isn’t sufficient to make a good exposure. That is when Bulb Mode comes in. This capacity enables you to open the shutter as long as you press the camera switch.
Utilising Bulb Mode successfully supersedes any programmed capacities set by the camera, so you must be happy with Manual Mode to utilise it.
Since you’ll be opening the shutter for over 30 seconds, select a bigger f-stop like f/8, f/11, or even f/22 for exposures that last a couple of minutes. Utilising a smaller gap diminishes the odds of overexposing your shot. For really long exposure times, you can utilise the most reduced ISO feasible for your camera. Step through some sample shots and modify until you get the shot that you need.
It takes confidence to use bulb mode but enables you to fully explore the capabilities of your camera. Since it gives you a chance to expose a picture with no time limits, it’s ideal for “light painting” where you can “scrawl” or “draw” utilising light sources, for example, a glimmer light.
12. Consider Studying Night Photography
Night photography requires a more sophisticated approach than simply pointing, shooting and hoping that the picture turns out well. Planning, practice and a study of the technical aspects is required. The points outlined in this article will provide a good grounding but beginners will benefit from taking a course in night photography. Digital Photography School offer an excellent course in night photography. You can find out about it by clicking the link below: