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Either you are an amateur or expert photographer, you would know how challenging it can be to take pictures at night. Besides the lack of natural light, it is quite tricky to look for ideal sources of light. To achieve excellent photos at night, you have to be knowledgeable in nighttime photography. It requires you to manage the settings of your camera, including the aperture, ISO, and even the shutter speed. You may also need different lenses to capture some particular scenes. When it comes to taking pictures at night, there are several tips that you can consider to get the best shots.
Night photography is one of the most challenging types of photography. However, there are techniques that you can apply to make it easier. If you haven't tried taking pictures at night, then it's time to level up your photography experience. The following can help improve your night photography skills:
1. Be creative using different nighttime techniques. Nighttime photography requires different methods that can help you capture quality photos. For instance, you can use the bokeh by using a large aperture. The subject should also be far enough in front of the background objects. You may also look for leading lines that can help you shoot better images. Another essential technique is to use minimalism. Having a subject and context could be enough to photograph a fantastic shot.
2. Bring a sturdy tripod. Night photography requires long exposures, meaning you have to set the camera in a fixed position. When taking pictures at night, you have to make sure that the camera is steady at all times. Try to use a well-built tripod that can handle your camera. Find something that is made of aluminum or carbon fibre because these materials can guarantee you with durability. Other than ensuring the tripod's durability, you also have to check if it is balanced. You can check the settings in your camera and turn on the device's virtual horizon. It would be better if you have a mini tripod because they can fit in smaller places. Who knows, these spots can give you better angles?
3. Choose a manual focus. When taking pictures, autofocus is helpful. However, this setting can make it harder for the device to adjust in the dark. At night, you may use manual focus because it doesn't randomly focus on any photography subject. You can turn the manual focus to infinity if you want your photographs to be crisp and sharp.
4. Experiment with different shutter speeds. Shooting at night can be hard, but taking pictures of moving objects at nighttime can be harder. As a technique, you can use the Shutter Priority in your camera settings. With this feature, you can capture moving objects, creating incredible light streaks and impressive landscapes. You can also utilize the Shutter Priority when capturing the night skies. Exposing your shot longer can offer you star trails. These are spectacular light streaks that are somehow similar when you photograph moving cars and vehicles.
5. Find an excellent light source. For night time photography, it is also important to consider your light sources. You may use the illumination from the night street lights, shop windows, or even the lights from street vendors' stalls. Remember that your sources of light should shine on the main subject if you like to achieve silhouettes. Try to avoid capturing photos with brights lights on the backgrounds because they can overwhelm the scenes. Choosing darker streets can offer you with compelling outlines.
6. Shoot raw for better image quality. Many photographers know that JPEG is an excellent file format because it doesn't take up too much space on the memory card. Besides, JPEG files can be easily uploaded whenever you need the pictures. You don't have to convert these files to another format because most platforms are compatible with JPEG files. But in spite of that, this format can compress your images drastically, making it harder for you to shoot in dynamic range. Though RAW format can consume much space in your memory card, they can provide you with better image quality, especially when taking pictures at night. Not only that, these files are ideal for avoiding grainy photos.
7. Take some test shots. Photographing at daytime is entirely different when taking photos at night. The latter requires different camera settings, which you need to test before you do the actual shoot. You can manipulate the settings and see if these are ideal for the location. Know that not all sites have the same light source, so it would be better to take test shots. You can experiment on the different levels of ISO and shutter speeds.
8. Use a fast lens. When doing night street photography, try to use a fast lens. It is something that allows light to pass through your camera quickly. A fast lens has a large aperture and a big lens diameter. You can choose among 35mm, 50mm, and 85 mm. For 35 mm, remember that it is ideal if you are struggling with higher shutter speed. If you want different aperture options, then you may opt for a 50mm. For quality portraits at night, try to use 85mm.
9. Use low ISO. Unlike high-end cameras, standard ones have limited light sensitivity range. This feature makes it hard to take photos at night because it increases the noise in the images. To test the limits of ISO levels, you can try some low light test shots to see if the photos look good. Usually, photographers make use of ISO 400, 800 and even 1600. These levels are ideal in most situations.
Although night photography is quite challenging, you will find it exciting once you learn the basics. You can also start experimenting with capturing the best shots possible. Try to be more creative by using essential props that can enhance your photos.