nine Night Photography Tips for Nailing Your Exposure (Every Time)

9 Night Photography Tips for Nailing Your Direct exposure (Every Time)

9 night photography tips for nailing your exposure every time

In this article, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about getting attractive night photography exposures.

As a longtime night photographer, I’m well-equipped to share with you the best night publicity techniques – so that you can produce stunning shots every time you take out your camera .

Specifically, I’m going to talk about:

  • the best exposure mode for night photography
  • the very best night photography shutter speed, aperture, and ISO configurations
  • a quick method to check your night exposures
  • much, much more!

So if you are ready to become a night pictures master, then let’s get started!

Notice: If you’re seriously interested in night photography and want to actually take your night photos to the next level, check out my night photography training course . It offers easy-to-follow night photography tutorials with hours of helpful videos and case studies.

1 . Work in Manual mode

Here’s your first night photography tip, plus it’s a big one:

Make sure you’re shooting in Manual mode .

In Manual setting, you will set the shutter speed , aperture , and INTERNATIONALE ORGANISATION FÜR STANDARDISIERUNG .   This gives you complete control over your camera.

When shooting at night, your camera is going to be on a tripod , and you will be working slowly. So there is no need to use any kind of automatic mode; even if you are not totally comfortable with digital camera settings, you can take your time, carefully dialing in your aperture plus shutter speed and checking out your exposure.

Further, there might be a little trial and error with the exposure configurations (the camera can be fooled by the large differences in shiny and dark areas of the picture), and you want to make be certain to have plenty of control over this process.

Guide mode gives you that control.

night photography tips exposure - Millenium Bridge example
4s | f/5. 6 | ISO four hundred

2 . Make sure you are comfortable with Bulb mode

Manual mode only works for exposures up to thirty seconds.

So if you need a shutter quickness that is longer than thirty seconds, the only option is Bulb mode . Therefore , while you should generally shoot in Guide, you should also get comfortable with Light bulb.

In Light bulb mode, the shutter remains open as long as you hold throughout the shutter button. When you strike the button, the shutter opens. When you release the particular button, the shutter shuts.

(Of course, to avoid introducing any kind of shake or movement in to the exposure, you must use a remote shutter release when doing work in Bulb mode. )

With Bulb mode, you can make your exposure various minutes long. If your remote control shutter release doesn’t have the built-in timer, make sure you keep another timer handy (e. g., on your phone).

Also, in case your remote does not have a timer, make sure it  has a fastening feature, so you don’t have to hold the shutter button during the entire exposure.

Proper Exposure at Night - Pigeon Point example
6s | f/5. 6 | ISO 1600

3. Shoot in RAW

When shooting at night, it really is particularly important to make sure you are usually shooting in RAW format .

RAW files coming out of most cameras are usually 14 bits, whereas JPEGS are only 8-bit files. The greater bits, the higher the range of available colors and the softer the transitions between  them.

(In various other words: RAW files look better. )

Plus, most of the colors the camera can capture are in the top (bright) end of the scale. The range of accessible colors at the low (dark) end of the scale is extremely limited. At night, your photos will almost always include a large dark portion. A JPEG file, with its reduced color options, will likely display (very ugly) banding.

So always, always, always shoot in RAW.

4. Bring a flashlight

Understanding your camera controls takes care of at night. You can make changes towards the settings without being able to notice everything.

Nevertheless, a small flashlight can be tremendously useful. Keep 1 handy to make sure you can see every thing on your camera and tripod.

(It occasionally comes in handy intended for lighting areas of your image, as well! )

Brooklyn Bridge

5. Choose proper settings

Proper settings will always depend on the situation. Nevertheless, there are some helpful guidelines for choosing settings at night:

  • Aperture : Open up your aperture a lot more at night than you would in the daytime (i. e., use a lower f-number). Most night photographs tend to require less depth of field than photos during the day. Plus, the background plus sky will be black. The bigger aperture also has the benefit of letting more light into your camera.
  • ISO : Keep your ISO setting as low as you can. Night photography always has dark areas, and these dark areas inevitably lead to digital noise . Raising the ISO may compound the problem.
  • Shutter acceleration : Whereas shutter speed might be the very first exposure setting you be worried about during the day, it should generally become the last one you think about during the night. Since you will be shooting from a tripod, you can let the shutter stay open as long as you need. If you have traffic (streaking lights), a fountain, or running water in your picture, the longer shutter speed will create a very cool effect. (Note, however , that if you’re shooting within high winds or when the ground is unstable, you will need to boost your shutter velocity to prevent blur. )

One other setting to check is Long Exposure Noise Reduction, which will be inside your camera’s menu. If you enable this option, the camera is going to take two exposures, one normal and one with the shutter shut. Your camera will then use the second image to filter noise from the normal image.

Of course , photos shot with this option enabled will take twice as long to expose, but they’ll also be less noisy.

6. Meter for the shows

Determining the proper exposure level can be challenging at night, and each metering mode presents its own challenges.

If you use evaluative metering, the camera will probably be confused. If you use spot or even partial metering, the meter will jump around, depending on whether you’ve aimed at a bright light or a dark history.

One response to this problem is to use spot metering and expose for the shows. So meter off the illustrates, then set your publicity between +1 and +2. The +1/+2 setting can keep your highlights looking shiny but will also keep the highlights within the dynamic range of your camera.

Do not worry as much regarding the dark portions of your picture. If the dark areas happen to turn black, it is nighttime, so there is said to be some black. But you can always take test shots plus adjust as necessary.

Dallas night photography
5s | f/16 | ISO 400

7. Have a test shot at a higher ISO

You need to make liberal use of test shots when shooting at night.

Nevertheless , you generally don’t wish to sit around for thirty seconds, a minute, or even longer, just waiting to see if the test shot is going to workout.

Therefore the best way to create a test document without wasting a lot of time would be to take a shot at a much higher ISO than you will ordinarily use.

Let’s say you think the proper exposure settings for a provided shot are 30 seconds at f/5. 6 with an ISO of 400. Rather than taking that shot plus waiting around 30 seconds for the exposure, just crank up the ISO, then boost the shutter speed by the same number of stops. The exposure will stay the same, but it will take a lot less time to capture the test picture.

For your above example, I would raise the ISO to 6400. Precisely why? Well, raising the INTERNATIONALE ORGANISATION FÜR STANDARDISIERUNG by one stop requires it to ISO 800, two stops increases this to ISO 1600, three stops to ISO 3200, and four stops gets you to ISO 6400.

Once you have set your ISO in order to 6400, you can reduce your shutter speed by four prevents to 2 seconds. In fact, reducing the shutter velocity by one stop reduces the length of it to 15 seconds, two stops shortens it in order to 8 seconds, three prevents to 4 seconds, and four stops takes the shutter speed down to 2 seconds.

After that, when you are satisfied with your publicity, just decrease the INTERNATIONALE ORGANISATION FÜR STANDARDISIERUNG and lengthen the shutter speed by a comparable amount to get back to the final settings.

8. Bracket your own photos

Evening photography is one area where you will want to bracket your photos . Blending and HDR can work miracles at night, but even if you don’t like to use those procedures, bracket your photos anyhow. Think of it as exposure insurance.

After all, if you overexpose or underexpose your document, having a bracket on hand would be the difference between a failed and a successful photoshoot.

San Antonio riverwalk night photography tips exposure
30s | f/11 | ISO 200

9. Verify the exposure with the histogram

After you have taken your exposures, you should always verify them on your camera’s back LCD.

However , while the picture in the LCD will show you if the publicity is  close to correct, you should also check the histogram .

Precisely why?

Because a histogram is more accurate than your own camera’s LCD. You can use it to carefully determine whether the particular exposure is within your camera’s dynamic range.

Specifically, make sure to keep your highlights on the right aspect of the histogram, but prevent a spike on the much right. If the dark places spike on the left part of the histogram, that’s alright; parts of your picture are supposed to be black.

In general, however , maintain as much of the image as possible within the range of the histogram, even though err on the side of maintaining the highlights from throwing out.

night photography tips exposure - Louvre example
4s | f/11 | ISO 400

Night photography exposure: last words

Simply following the night photography exposure tips I’ve given above,   you are likely to get some great pictures. Every city lights up its major attractions, bridges, and museums – often in colorful ways. So a scene that might be boring throughout the day can offer great photos during the night.

Because of the effects of the lights, you will often be surprised by what you end up with (in a great way! ). Taking your time and applying these tips to toenail the exposure will help you increase the experience.

Please remember:

If you need to improve your night photography skills fast , then check out my night photography program . It’ll teach you all you need to know about night photography by means of hours of helpful video clips and case studies!

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Jim Hamel

John Hamel

shows aspiring photographers simple, useful steps for improving their particular photos. Check out his totally free photography guides and digital photography tutorials at Outdoor Photo Academy . The free tips, explanations, and video tutorials he provides are sure to take your photography to another level. In addition , check out their brand new Lightroom Course exactly where Digital Photography School readers can use the Promo Code “DPS25” to get 25% off!

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