How to Photograph at Night

December 8th, 2011


Night Landscape Photography Information


To assist anyone that is interested I’ve listed a few tips below on what is required to shoot at night. Should you like to explore this area of landscape photography more I offer Private Landscape Photography Tuition sessions in which you may be interested in.

I’ve been getting a little into night landscape photography of late. Last night I had a lot of fun with some fellow photographs playing with different coloured lights to produce effects that we can’t record with normal human eyesight. Long exposures open-up a world of possibilities and creativity. The image below was taken over the course of 2 minutes whilst my fellow photographer friend Ian Dixon slowly moved his feet 360 degrees around a pivot point whilst spinning a coloured LED light. Whilst it sounds like a simple process in theory it is actually quite trickly to form a perfect sphere as the distance in the swings has to be kept constant. Getting it right makes for an interesting effect and something to add further visual interest to a night time landscape photograph.

Night Landscape Photography Tips:

Please note you’ll need a camera equipped with the Bulb mode
1. Look through the optical view finder – Live View is going to be useless to you when composing an image. Better still try and arrive whilst it is still light to allow you to compose the scene and focus
2. If you have to focus in the dark, use a torch to illuminate the focal point and when you can’t manually focus by illuminating the desired focus point, set the lens to infinity and back it off by just a millimetre or two
3. Set your White Balance to Auto
4. With your camera set to Aperture Priority (AV) mode, set the aperture to f/8 and increase your camera’s ISO to the maximum (i.e. 1600). Depress the shutter button and take note of what the calculated shutter speed is
5. Now switch from the AV mode to the bulb mode – this is the only mode that allows you to capture exposures greater than 30 seconds
6. Finally, decrease the ISO to 100 and adjust the shutter speed to compensate. For example, decreasing the ISO from 1600 down to 100 represents 4 stops (800, 400, 200, 100) where every time you halve the value it equals to one stop. This means that if the shutter speed was 30 seconds previously then it would need to be adjusted to increase by 4 stops which would be 480 secs (8 mins) (60, 120, 240, 480). It is important to change the shutter speed and not the aperture as to preserve depth of field that you want


Bonus Tip: Avoid turning on the camera’s noise reduction as it will result in taking longer for the image to write to the memory card (the same amount of time as required for the exposure) before becoming available for viewing on the LCD screen. Instead reduce any noise that may have been introduced into the image during the Post Production process


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