5 Simple tips on Night Photography! by Felix Ng

Night photographs express a special something that cannot be seen in normal daytime photography. Whether it is a photograph of a moon and starlit sky over a windy deserted beach, the excitement of a downtown cityscape when the lights go on, or just a picture of you and some friends in front of a favourite hangout, nighttime photos, when done right, are sure to attract attention.

However, even for experienced photographers, nighttime photography can be a tricky situation. Photos often look unfocused, blurry, or lacking crucial details, and many may not come out at all. There are some tricks, though, to taking spectacular nighttime photos with your digital camera, tricks that can be explained yet only completely learned through practice.

Tip 1: Use Long Exposures

The key to successful night photography lies in a long exposure. I am talking about exposures measured in seconds. When a long exposure is used, more light is allowed into the camera, allowing the details in your night photo to be captured.

The problem with using long exposures is that you may shake the camera, resulting in poor pictures. To prevent this you need to use a tripod. I prefer to set the camera on timer mode to minimise the amount of vibration or movement on the camera when I press the shuttle release.

Tip 2: Try to Capture Motion

Photography with a long exposure can always give you many creative options. This includes capturing motion. For example, have you ever wondered how those professional photographers shoot pictures of trails of car lights as they zoom down the highway at night? It’s all due to long exposures. Try to keep this in mind the next time you’re taking a night photo – you don’t have to restrict yourself to still objects.

Tip 3: Play with the Aperture

In addition to shutter speed (which determines exposure time), you can play around with the aperture size of your digital camera. There are two basic and simple scenarios here; with a long exposure, try to use a small aperture to avoid overexposing any stationary lights in the frame. On the other hand, if you set a short exposure, try using a larger aperture to avoid any motion in your shot.

Tip 4: How to Use the Flash

As a general rule, I turn the flash off when taking night photos. There are some exceptions though – one specific example I can think of is trying to shoot a subject in the foreground, with motion trails of car lights in the background. In this case, bring along an external flash unit and shine it on your subject manually. Set a long exposure, then have your subject wait until the picture is taken.

Tip 5: When to Take Night Photos

When’s the best time to take night photos? I usually like to take them during dusk when colours and details are easier to capture. I’d recommend that you do some research on the evening before the photo shoot. Decide on the location, then come back the next day to take the photo at dusk.

Hopefully, this article has taught you some tips on taking better night photos. The important concept to remember is that a long exposure is need for good night photos. This means you need to keep you digital camera really, really still. Once you understand that, the quality of your night photos will definitely improve.


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