Photographing at night
As a photographer you will sooner or later find out what type of motives, or “genre” of photography, that you find the most enjoyable to shoot. There’s rarely any shortcuts in life, and photography is no exception. I’ve changed “niche” a couple of times, leaving me with a wide knowledge, but with a somewhat dark hole in my photographic heart.
That was until I found out that long-exposures at night was my jam. Often combining my love for landscape-photography with the silent joy of nights, this turned out to be just the thing I’d searched for. So today I’m going to share with you what I’ve learnt so far about taking long exposures at night, both good and bad.
If you’re now considering getting yourself into this type of photography, the first advice I would give you is to invest in a good tripod. You will be dealing with long exposures, for my part often around 30 seconds, that are impossible to pull off else wise.
You could of course search for stationary objects around you to serve as improvised tripods, but by just buying one you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle and less limitations.
The second advice is to get comfortable with shooting manually, as you’re now will be doing this a lot. Even as auto focusing systems keeps improving each year, you’re almost always better off by setting your focus yourself. By shooting manually (the option marked as M in your cameras program-settings) you’ll get full control over the shutter speed and aperture, and you’ll soon learn what do work and what don’t.
Regarding lenses, I choose to shoot with primes since that’s what I use 99% of the time. This is partly because my primes have way better aperture(2,8) than my zooms (3,5-4,5), but it also forces you to move towards your subject and don’t just stand in one place zooming in.
The aperture also plays a big role since we’re dealing with a very limited amount of light for the camera to pick up at scenes during night. However, what aperture you chose depends a lot on your motive: a landscape photo will look better if shot with a higher aperture, day or night, while if your aiming for some sweet moonlight bokeh, you will have a harder time doing so with a f.3,5 than with a 1,8 or 2,8.Surely you could bump up the ISO, and thereby get good exposures, but despite the progress of the moderns sensors, a high ISO is rarely advisable.
My last advice for shooting at night is to dress accordingly to the weather. This might seem like a silly point since it seems so obvious, but you might end up standing out in the cold for a long time, and we don’t want you to get sick! ;-)
There’s a lot more to say about this type of photography, but i’ll save that for another day. Leave a comment in case you would like to read more posts like this, or if you have any questions.
Down below is a gallery with some of my latest low light shots taken during evening and nights, so that you can see a few examples of how it might look.
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