What is more beautiful than shots taken at night? All you need to capture good night shots is a good camera and a few tips. If you are especially used to daytime photography, you need a few night photography tips to begin your adventure. It is worth noting that most night photography tricks also apply to low light photography, for pictures taken indoors or after sunset. 

This post is a night photography guide with top tips that you can use to improve this fantastic adventure. 

What is night photography?

Night photography is the activity of capturing objects, outdoor at night when it is dark between dusk and dawn. At night there is little or no light; hence the photographer needs to be creative and discover a way of getting perfect shots. In most cases, the photographer uses artificial lighting or delay exposure to give the image sensor enough time to capture desired objects which otherwise would not have been captured. 

Taking photos during the night is not as straightforward as taking them during daytime. With the challenge of low natural lighting at night, the technique of taking photography varies and different tips are needed. Even though most people find it hard to take perfect pictures at night, it will be a walk in a park if you use these night photography tips. 

Night photography tips

Work with a tripod

It is worth noting that night photography requires long exposure to focus and capture target objects and for quality images, the camera should be stable. It is quite challenging to hold a camera in a stable position for a long time; thus, this necessitates a tripod. Ensure your tripod is level using the tripod bubble spirit for nice night shots.

You can also try out mini-tripods, which are more flexible than the regular ones. The camera position’s flexibility is very important in night photography and this is the reason why you should never miss a tripod. 

Use manual focus

Even though automatic focus works best for digital cameras in the daytime, it is not the case for night photography. The camera struggles to focus at night and automatic focus worsens this condition. Manual focus ensures that the camera will not focus on any other place of the scene but the target objects you photograph. This gives very clear images.

To turn to manual focus, use the infinity symbol on your camera and get the best focus by zooming with the live view mode. Make sure to turn your lens’s barrel when zooming until the object is pin-sharp before you capture the image. 

Utilize raw shoot

Night photography comes with its limitations and one of them is that the JPEG file format compresses the images a lot making it difficult to shoot scenes with high dramatic range (HDR) at night. With raw shoot, the images are not compressed and thus, the quality of pictures is retained and grainy pictures are avoided. After editing, you can convert the raw images into any file format such as JPEG or PNG, which are economical to store or send.

Operate with low ISO

Although many people think that higher ISO numbers are better when doing night photography, it in real sense increases noise in pictures. Since you are using a tripod, it is safer to use low ISO as noiseless images will be captured. It would help if you first understand your camera’s ISO limit by taking low light photo using different settings. You can then examine the pictures to establish at which ISO level the noise becomes too much.

Use bracket exposure

This is a technique where instead of taking a single low light photo, you take three or more. In this technique, all the images are exposed differently, where one is exposed correctly and the others; one is slightly underexposed and the other slightly overexposed. 

Bracket exposure is achieved by first making sure your camera is on manual focus and then positioning it on the tripod. After taking the first shot while still in that position, adjust the exposure compensation or ISO by one stop, then take a second shot. Adjust the parameter you have varied on the second shot by two stops in the opposite direction to take the third shot. With this, you will have varied exposure for identical pictures and get to choose the best.

Take test shots

Doing night photography is not as simple as daytime photography (where you pick your camera and get started) because of low lighting. You need to know precisely the setting that works for your camera best in low light and that’s why you need test shots. As you take your test shots, play around with ISO levels, shutter speed and apertures until you get a perfect image.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, you have learned a few tips about night photography and how to adjust your camera’s settings to get perfect images at night. As you begin your adventure in night photography, buy a camera that can operate well under these conditions and leverage these tips to capture nice low light photos. All the best as you take those perfect night shots!