Night photography is one of the less popular fields of photography. It would not be an exaggeration to say that most of the general public or amateurs are even unaware that night photography exists and is quite as exciting as day light photography.
Photography being all about light and capturing images under proper light conditions, nobody typically gives a thought about night photography. The fact is – night photography is quite challenging and wonderful depending on how one perceives the beauty of darkness and faint light. One will surely have a different perception of the world and landscapes when looked through photographs shot at night. Night photography is obviously a class apart from the other types of photography and has its own set of protocols and requirements. Unlike sports photography, night photography involves very slow shutter speeds and longer exposure times. Let us get into the very lesser known facts or untold secrets to master night photography
Comprehend the beauty of darkness – if anyone of you is quite averse or fearful of darkness, night photography is not for you. Night photography is precisely to those who think out-of-the-box and love to adventure. The world as a whole acquires its own enigmatic beauty in darkness and under varying degrees of moonlight. If one doesn’t have an appreciation of this it’s quite tough that you will enjoy night photography. Apart, night photography has different avenues to pursue – you can go shoot landscapes like mountains, plains or anything under moonlight or just get into the city and capture the twinkling city lights in panoramic view – all depends on your taste
Grasp the importance of light – as ever said, light is the key concept of photography, you cannot assume to be taking good photographs of any sort without understanding the relation of light to a scene. So have a basic idea of what differentiates night photography from day time photography – obviously light, isn’t that? So try to contemplate how can you compensate for this loss of light in the dark and still take appealing photographs; and about this I will get into the details in the later points.
Know the science of your camera – yes you have to, else how could you even imagine to take photographs that translate your creativity? So have a good grasp of exposure, shutter speed, focal length and apertures. In fact, these terms should not intimidate you and are very simple when tried to understand with practical application.
Get into the clarity of requirements – once you have thought of the above mentioned points, it’s time to understand the specific requirements of night photography, let’s get deeper into those points now.
The scene – choose the right scene for your night photography; locales can be anything from a barren plain to the busiest of city streets. All depends on what you intend to portray – you could shoot a serene mountain under moonlight, a vast stretch of empty plain or the hustle and bustle of a shopping center – it just depends on your taste and intention!
Get a tripod – tripod is an unavoidable requirement for night photography as you would be exposing for longer time periods and even a little shake of your camera can blur and spoil the quality of the photo. So do buy a good quality tripod or a monopod if you can’t afford a tripod, but any of the ‘pods’ is a must.
Slow lenses – there basically exist two type of lenses for your DSLR – fast and slow. Slow lenses have slow shutter speeds with narrow apertures. Just understand the fact that night photography needs longer exposure and slow shutter speeds for the paucity of light.
Aperture – typically apertures of f/8 and above are preferred for night photography as you would be shooting in a landscape mode – which means you need to capture the whole panoramic view of your subject in finer detail and wide apertures will not help with this. Just get the fact that narrower the aperture sharper will be the whole view and contrarily wider the aperture the more focused is the subject and eventually the background blurs. For clarity, wide apertures are used where light is abundant and you can afford to have very high shutter speeds so apertures of f/1.4 till f/4 are typically used for normal day light photography. The situation in night photography is exactly opposite where you can’t afford faster shutter speeds. So experiment with apertures above f/8 coupled with some slow lenses, you should be able to understand which lenses are working good for you.
Shutter release cable – get a good “shutter release cable” for your camera which you can find with the camera dealer where you bought your DSLR from, the shutter release cable helps you in connecting to your camera and operating it without touching it; this saves you from jerks to your camera while doing long exposures and as mentioned most of the night photography is long exposure photography. So it’s wise to get a good shutter release cable, attach it to your camera and use it to get blur-free photos.
Exposure times – night photography is synonymous with long exposures, the duration of exposure might be anywhere from 5 seconds to 30 seconds on an average and at times go beyond 30 seconds. One point to remember here is that normal photography happens at thousands of a second exposure, so when compared the exposures of night photography are quite long. Importantly you have to test and tweak with your exposure timings while you are starting with night photography. It is always better to have a couple of shots with varying exposure timings when you are shooting your favorite scene – shoot with gradations in your exposure time, start with the lower exposure times and take a couple of longer exposure shots following it. This is to make sure that one of the shots taken has the right exposure and turns out to your satisfaction.
What are your night photography experiences? How tough you found it while shooting any of your favorite scenes at night?
Night Photography | 10 Untold Secrets to Master Night Photography