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Tips for Capturing Stunning Photos at Night

December 8, 2016

Many photographers will complete most of their work during the daylight hours, whether they specialize in portraiture, landscapes, action photography and more. Therefore, it’s understandable that some might get a little nervous about shooting images when the sun disappears for the day and the darkness begins to settle around them.

If you consider yourself to be a nighttime photography newbie, then don’t fear! You’ll be pleased to hear that today we’ll be covering the top tips for capturing photos at night.

Be prepared

Before you set out for some incredible after-hours shots, it’s best to be prepared. You’ll want to ensure you have all of the equipment you require, as well as the previous knowledge of how to operate it. After all, no one wants to be flipping through a camera manual in little light!

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Pack a tripod

When its dark, you’ll want to use a slower shutter speed or even a long exposure to try and capture as much light as possible. Because of this though, you don’t want to be relying solely on holding your camera with your hands to capture images, as chances are you’ll be left with a shaky and blurry mess! This is why a tripod is essential when shooting at night and it will become something that you very much depend on having around.

Utilize your self-timer or remote release

As mentioned previously, when taking photos at night you are definitely at a higher risk of capturing blurry images due to any movement with the camera. Therefore, even the split second where you use your finger to press the shutter release can leave you with a less-than-impressive image.

The remedy to this solution is quite simple though: use your self-timer instead. This will allow you to set-up your image and then give it a few seconds between pressing the button and capturing that all-important photo. If you’ve got a remote release, then you can also use this instead – whichever works best for you!

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Bring a flashlight

This probably goes without saying, but if you’re shooting at night then you’re going to have limited visibility. You don’t want to trip over things or put yourself in danger, so it’s important that you bring a light source, such as a flashlight, with you. Some photographers also enjoy using this flashlight as a light-painting tool to further enhance specific parts of the scene they wish to capture.

Shoot in manual, not auto

When capturing photos at night, you’ll want to have complete control over both your shutter speed and aperture. Therefore, it’s vital that you embrace manual mode, as opposed to automatic shooting. Depending on what time you’re shooting at, the light will constantly be changing, and you’ll want to make manual adjustments regularly.

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Shoot in RAW

Shooting in RAW will allow you to capture your night shots in the best available quality and this is important when a natural light source isn’t available. RAW allows your photos to retain the most ‘data’ as possible, giving you even greater room for further enhancing them in raw-processing software. It gives you additional flexibility when changing elements such as color, white balance, and exposures.

Pack an extra power source

Night photography usually means shooting in long exposure, however this can drain your battery a lot faster than you might initially think. In order to avoid a dreaded case of a flat camera battery, it’s best to pack an extra or two just in case! If you have any other equipment that requires power, don’t forget to bring back-up power sources for them too. You’d hate for your only source of light to falter, only to leave you unable to see in the dark!

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You don’t have to do it alone

It’s understandable for some that the one thing that might be preventing them from wanting to pursue night photography is the feeling of not wanting to do it alone. Perhaps you feel as though you’re not skilled enough yet, or maybe you’re a very social person who doesn’t like to do too many things alone – either way, you don’t have to fret. There’s sure to be at least one night photography group in your local area which plans regular nighttime expeditions to pursue the medium in a group environment. If not, why not create your own? It might be fun to round-up some of your photography friends and plan weekly or fortnightly photo sessions. Plus, you all get to learn the art of nighttime photography together!

Practice makes perfect

As with everything, practice makes perfect. The more you experiment with capturing photos at night, the better and more experienced you will become. After a little while, you’ll start to develop intuition and will know what settings to use in different situations. You’ll also begin to build up knowledge of perfect locations that you can shoot as soon as the sun goes down.

We hope this article has not only provided you with vital tips for capturing stunning photos at night, but that it has also encouraged you to get out there when the sun goes down and give it a go!

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