When it comes to low light night photography, there are a few solid tips you need to take into account to make your endeavor a successful one. These aren’t terribly difficult things to grasp, but you should keep them in mind when it comes to setting up your scenes. Night photography is much like daytime photography in that you’ll be in many of the same locations, but it’s also much different in that the focus of the photographer will change from objects in the scene to the relationship between objects in the scene. Since lighting is scarce, it’s important to see how the different elements of a scene play off one another as opposed to simply being present.
Okay, the first and most obvious tip is that you should know your shutter speeds. Depending on the available light in the surrounding areas and atmosphere, you’re going to most likely need a shutter speed between 30 seconds and a few minutes. Because of this, you’ll need to switch your camera shutter speed to bulb mode. Don’t think you’re going to get away with a 15 second exposure on a normal night. That level of light will require much more time. Obviously, if there’s more than average light in a scene, that shutter speed will change.
Next, try to set objects that are close to you against objects in the distance. Because night photography plays objects off one another, you can get very good results when you make the primary subject of your photo as something up close to you and then continue to show the sky and mountains (or whatever) in the background. You’ll likely need to change your position and shooting angle when engaging in something like this, but that’s to be expected. Even in daylight photography, getting down close to the ground and shooting upwards always adds an interesting perspective that not many of us see too often.
If there was no contrast, you’d have no shot. This is true for normal light situations, but especially true for low light situations. You may only be able to see outlines and glows, so be sure to include those areas in your images. It’s best to photograph at night while there’s still some light in the sky. You’ll need that for the camera sensor to absorb. The darker things are in an absolute sense, the more trouble your camera will have with capturing the scene. Cameras are especially good at absorbing light, but they’ll need something to work with.
And finally, just as you do with normal light photography, you’ll need to section off your scenes. Low light photography is slightly different though in that contrasting edges need to be taken into account much more and objects that you might ignore during the day may be the primary subjects at night. You probably won’t be able to take many big landscape shots, so work with what you have. If that’s something in the foreground and then a glowing mountaintop in the distance, that’s what you’ll need to capture digitally. Take stock of what you can work with angle by angle and place by place. Pretend that you’re a movie director looking for the best place to position your camera and then go with it.
If you have any more photography tips for low light and night night photography, please share them down below. We’re all looking to learn as much as we can. Thanks!