how to get better at night photography

How to Get Better at Night Photography

Photography becomes quite tricky when shooting at night or in other low light situations.

So the question then is:

Can I still get great shots at night or in low light?

The answer, of course, is yes!

Here’s how to get better at Night Photography – courtesy of FringeFX!

How to Get Better at Night Photography

Aperture

One of the things to consider when shooting in a low light situation is the aperture. Depending on the lens you have, it would behoove you to open the aperture to allow the most amount of light into your camera.

Because there isn’t a lot of light, to begin with, the light that is faintly there becomes restricted as you set the aperture higher.

A word of caution: opening up the aperture creates a shallow depth of field and makes it more difficult to get sharp images. If I’m trying to shoot a portrait in low light, I would probably open my lens up to f/2. Any lower than that risks a blurry image. And nobody likes blurry!

Manual Focus

Speaking of blurry images, I’d have to recommend working with a manual focus when shooting at night or in low light.

Cameras may not have an easy time picking up your subject in the photo when in auto-focus. To ensure crispy sharp images, use manual focus.

It does take getting used to, but it is not impossible! If it helps, take a reliable tripod with you as an insurance for sharp images. It will allow you to focus on focusing (ba dam pshh!), rather than carrying the camera and all that.

ISO

ISO is one of the “three pillars” of photography. While you will be letting a good amount of light in by opening up your aperture, you will also want to set your camera’s sensitivity to light higher during low light shooting.

By opening up your aperture, you will be able to avoid setting your ISO too high. Yes, that can be a bad thing!

Setting ISO too high can cause noise in your images. Unless you are purposefully going for that look, try to keep your ISO below the 1600 range.

Shoot RAW

RAW vs JPEG! These two camps will always be at war with each other.

Though JPEG images take less space in your memory card, I’d have to recommend ALWAYS shooting RAW – especially in low light situations.

By shooting in RAW, you will be able to get away with underexposing your images. Most of the time, you can gain back all of the details in your photos in post-processing. You definitely cannot do this with JPEG.

The photo is recoverable in ‘post’ because RAW images are not compressed like JPEG files are. Be careful not to underexpose too much, though, and lose your image entirely.

You can overdo it, even with RAW!

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is one of the three pillars of photography that allows you to control how much light comes into your camera (just like aperture!).

Unlike the aperture, however, you don’t have to worry about depth of field. You do, however, have to worry about the type of subject you will be shooting in low light (i.e building, model, animal, product, etc.).

In order to allow the most amount of light into the camera (which you want in low light situations), you will need to slow down your shutter speed.

The problem with this is that if you are trying to capture moving targets (i.e models, animals, etc.), then your image WILL be blurry. The enormous amount of light you are letting in by slowing down your shutter speed will be too fast for your camera to capture; causing blurs.

If you are shooting landscape, however, then knock yourself out! Just be sure to have your camera on a tripod. The slightest of nudges will cause havoc in your images.

Ending Notes

Remember to always have fun with your art. Experiment with different exposures and see what you get. That’s truly how to better at Night Photography – or any Photography for that matter!

Take tons of test shots, have fun with different types of lights, and just know that there isn’t one way of doing things.

Photography is art, and art is subjective. Enjoy it!

Until next time, friend.