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How to take nighttime photos

13th May 2013. Photography has many areas and one of my favorites is nighttime photography. There are numerous elements to taking nighttime photos. For those who like extra long exposure time, there is star trail photography. If you like city scape, almost every city looks great during nighttime. In addition you can create great moody pictures in streets and parks. In addition there is light painting.

From BHPhoto video - This is a great instruction video for someone just getting into nighttime photography.
The video is mostly about city landscapes and don't give too much concrete advice, but it is an easy watch:

To take nighttime photos does not require any particular equipment. There is certain basic elements that can enhance your evening shots.

The first that can help you with low light photography is lenses with large aperture. There are many disadvantages with these kind of lenses. They tend to more expensive, particularly if you want to get a zoom lens. You can get quite cheap and good prime lenses with f/1,8. Another disadvantage is that they will only help in low light situations, not when it is completely dark. If you are taking pictures in complete darkness, the problem is not lens speed. It is lack of light or too short shutter speed.

The solution when you need longer exposure compensation is to get a proper tripod. Well technically you only need a steady surface so you don't need a tripod. A tripod is however a central element in nighttime photography. You don't need an expensive one. Many give the advice that you should get a proper tripod instead of buying many cheap ones. You should buy a strong tripod, because it is essential that your camera don't keel over. As a hobby shooter myself I'm not so convinced about buying an expensive tripod because it will "last you a lifetime".

A third option is flash or other kind of lighting. This option is far from ideal as it takes away a lot of the charm with nighttime photography. A good flash can, however, freeze the motion if you have a moving subject.

A picture I took in Manaus (Brazil) shortly after sunset.
You see the blue sky that appear in the picture appear natural in the picture even though it cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Nighttime in Manaus
A nighttime photograph can have a lot of mood if you choose to do so during post processing.
This can particularly be true if you take pictures in areas with a lot of artificial lighting.
The particular image above is made quite bright, but it could be made darker with light only from the light posts.

One technique in nighttime photography is light painting. Because exposure time is very long you can use different light in the frame.
This technique can create some very cool effects and you should search for more videos on youtube. One instruction video for light painting in nighttime photography is below.

I will not write a longer list of night photography. It is important to remember that this kind of photography really can differentiate you from other photographers.

With light painting you can be almost litmitless creative. With city images you can create a huge number of various effects. In addition, there are small number of photographers in the area. Meaning you more easily can be unique.

Keywords: nighttime photography, pictures, photography, how to take nighttime pictures