Night time photography is a very exciting, interesting sub genre of photography and is a great way to improve your technical ability as there is little margin for error. For each type of shot such as a photo of the stars in the night sky or of a busy road junction there is a specific ‘recipe’ of camera settings that if not followed will result in just a black picture or a noisy grainy image. Below we take a look at some night time photos and offer some tips on how to take similar images.
Slow shutter not high ISO
This starscape photograph involved the use of an 8mm F2.8 fisheye. Although the picture has come out reasonably well it does however feature quite a lot of noise in the image due to the use of a high ISO number. The image was taken on a 15 second shutter speed with an ISO of 3200. Had say a shutter of 30 seconds been used the ISO could have been reduced to 1600 thus reducing the granular noise in the final image. Be aware that shooting stars with a shutter of longer the 30 seconds will result in star trails due to the rotation of the Earth being recorded.
Shoot in RAW always
Due to setting Sun in this photo taken in Zaragosa, Spain the image could either be exposed for the sky, or for the foreground but not both. With the ability to take Raw photos in modern DSLR cameras where as much visible data is preserved the sky could be post processed in Adobe Lightroom and details such as the clouds could be brought back out to balance the photo. By post processing the photo the true feeling of the photo is restored.
Slow shutter fun
This photo of the Glasgow City ring road was shot using a 4 second shutter speed creating light trails of the passing cars lights. There was some experimentation with both the ISO and the shutter speed to where the city scene was exposed correctly but also the light trails were bright enough and long enough to show the motion of the vehicles. What is very interesting is that due to the mainly dark coloured cars and their speed, they are invisible to the camera whereas their bright head lights and tail lights are not.
Dirty photos can be nice photos
With the use of high resolution cameras with precision optics there is a strong emphasis on perfect quality pictures these days. However there is something very attractive about old photos taken with a traditional 35mm film camera where the captured image contains a lot of grain and artifacts that would render them useless in the modern age. This photo of the Finestone crane in Glasgow was shot on a modern digital camera but the lens is actually an 18mm f2.8 micro lens from the famous early 80’s Pentax 100 micro slr camera. These lenses although a little soft give a great retro feel to photographs and in post processing some film grain effect was added to replicate the feel of some old Kodak Tri-X black and white film.
Night photography is a great subject as it forces you to fully use your cameras manual settings and understand them. It is one type of photography where placing the camera on automatic cannot reproduce the same effects so it is all down to the photographer. By following the simple tips above you can be sure to get the best images out of your night time photography.