Beautiful, Interesting and Ooo Shiny! Images From Various Places

A Shot in the Dark: Night Photography

Location: Austria
Camera info: Fuji Finepix A303 • Automatic Point & Shoot
ISO 100 • f 2.8 • 1/60 sec

Night photography is one of the more difficult techniques to learn. This picture of Vienna’s town hall (the Rathaus) came after several blurry or underexposed attempts I threw out. Mostly that is because you need light to take photographs, and at night, it can be hard to come by! Here are some simple tricks to help get you started, so you don’t have to be afraid of the dark.

  • Know the weather forecast, sun and moon rise & set times, and any other factors (such as light pollution from cities) that can affect your photos and plan accordingly.
  • Know this: flash is evil and it won’t help you in this setting. Turn it off.
  • The key to night photos is long exposures, so learn how to adjust your shutter speed down or use a bulb (some pictures take 1/2 sec up to an hour or two). You will also need a higher aperture (11+) to keep your depth of field sharp as well as a higher ISO setting to let more light in (here’s an explanation of some of these settings). When in doubt, bracket your photos (most DSLRs will take 3 photos with different exposures in a range, so you can pick your favorite or combine them later). And yes, I know I broke these rules in this week’s photo. But hey, sometimes you just get lucky!
  • Next, DON’T MOVE! Or at least, don’t allow your camera to move. Use a tripod, and don’t press the shutter button to take pictures. Instead, use the camera’s self-timer, a remote control, or a cable release. Also, if using a DSLR camera, set the mirror lock-up function to further prevent internal camera shake.
  • Don’t forget battery backup, warm clothes, and a flashlight! It will make your life a lot easier.
  • Manual focus is helpful here, since autofocus typically won’t work at night. Set it to infinity for buildings and landscapes. The same goes for your automatic white balance settings. Manually set it to “Daylight” to get the correct colors.
  • There is a lot of discussion on timing. Some photographers advocate shooting right after sunset to maintain colors and avoid streetlights, while others prefer the night sky around 2 am. Figure out what works best for you and try it!
  • Finally, if you want to get REALLY technical, try light painting.

What, besides fireworks, looks so cool at night that you really would like a picture of it?

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One response

  1. Pingback: Shutter Speed: Photography in Motion « Pictures Around the World

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