Taking dramatic pictures of the night with your digital SLR camera is easier than you might think! With a bit of patience, practice, and some tips, you can take spectacular photos throughout the night.
Turn off the flash for night photography
If you leave the camera in auto mode, you will attempt to shoot the pop-up flash to compensate for the low light. All this will be achieved is an “over-lighted” in the foreground, with a background that has been immersed in the dark. Using any of the other camera modes will override this issue.
Use a tripod
You will have to use long exposures to get great shots at night and this means that you will need a tripod.
If the tripod is a bit fragile, hang a heavy bag from the middle section to prevent it blowing through the wind. Even the slightest amount of wind can shake the tripod during exposure and may not be able to see a soft blur on the LCD screen. ERR on the caution side.
Use the self-timer
Simply pressing the shutter button can cause the camera to shake even with a tripod. Use the camera’s self-timer feature, in combination with the mirror lock feature (if you have this in your DSLR) to avoid blurry photos.
A remote shooting or shooting is another option and a good investment for any photographer who takes long exposures regularly. Make sure you buy one that is dedicated to your camera model.
Use a long exposure
To create great shots at night, you need to let the light dim environment to reach the image sensor and this will require a long exposure.
A minimum of 30 seconds is a good starting point and the exposure can be extended from there if necessary. At 30 seconds, any moving object illuminated in its grip, like cars, will turn into light-style paths.
If the exposure is very long then it may be out of the camera shutter speed range. Many DSLRs can go up to 30 seconds, but it can be. If you need longer exposure, use the BULB setting (B). This will allow you to keep the shutter open until the shutter button is pressed. A shot is essential for this and usually include a block so you don’t have to really hold the button all the time (just don’t lose it in the dark!).
It should be taken into consideration that the camera will take longer to process and process these long exposures. Be patient and let him process an image before attempting to take the next one. Night photography is a slow process and you also want to see the screenshot on the LCD screen so you can adjust the next exposure to perfect the shot.
Switch to Manual focus
Even the best cameras and lenses have a hard time with auto focus on low light and it’s probably going to be better to change your lens to manual focus.
If you also have trouble finding something to focus on in the dark, use the distance scale on the target. Calculate to what extent a subject is standing or meters, then use a flashlight to see and correct that measure on the target.
If the only subject is too far away, set the target to infinity and stop until the target is gone (a minimum of f/16) and everything should fall into focus. You can always check on the LCD screen and adjust the next shot accordingly.
Increase the depth of field
A great depth of field is the best for night shots, especially when photographing buildings and illuminated structures. A minimum of F/11 should be used, even if f/16 and above are even better.
Remember that this also means that less light is allowed on the target and you will need to adjust the shutter speed accordingly.
For every f/stop move you make, your exposure will double. If you’ve shot at F/11 for 30 seconds, then you’ll need to expose for a full minute while shooting at F/16. If you want to go to F/22, then your exposure would be 2 minutes. Use the phone timer if the camera does not reach these times.
Watch your ISO
If you have set the shutter speed and aperture, and still don’t have enough light in the picture, you may want to consider the ISO setting. This will allow you to shoot in lower light conditions.
Remember, however, that a higher ISO will also add noise to your image. The noise makes its greatest appearance in the Shadows and the night photography is full of shadows. Use the lowest ISO you can get away with!
Have spare batteries available
Long exposures can quickly drain the camera’s batteries. Be sure to bring spare batteries if you are going to do a lot of night shots.
Experiment with shutter and aperture mode priority
If you want to help you learn how you go along, consider experimenting with these two modes. AV (or a-priority aperture mode) allows you to choose the aperture, and the TV (or S-shutter priority mode) allows you to choose the shutter speed. The camera fix the rest.
This is a great way to learn the camera exposes the images, and will help you achieve the correct exposure.