Night Photography tips

December 05, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Night Photography Tips


After writing blogs on Star trails and Panning photography, I am writing a blog on Night photography which is again one of my favorites. There are lot of things that can be done like capturing the City roads at night, capturing light trails of vehicles, night city view as well as night skyscape, capturing fireworks , Light painting etc.


Equipments you need:-

  • Tripod is MUST. If not available, then you need to find a firm base where you can mount the camera for long exposure photos.
  • Wide Angle lens (preferred). If not available, then 18-55 lenses do a good job.
  • Remote cable release (preferred) or IR remotes to shot in BULB mode and to reduce the vibrations. If not available, then camera timer will do the job for you.
  • Torch/Laser lights is required if the light is less and also to paint the subject or do light painting.
  • Lastly Patience and creativity :)


Play with following settings:-

  • Shooting modes:  I use Manual mode (M) which gives the opportunity to change all the settings manually.  Also Shutter priority mode (Tv for Canon or S for Nikon) can be used, where you can adjust the shutter speed of the camera the way you want and camera will do adjustments for other required settings.
  • Shutter Speed: Try shutter speed of anything between 1/8 second to 30 seconds or even BULB mode depending on what you want to capture. BULB mode is very helpful as you can time the shots perfectly. So you can expose the shot for the duration you want rather than the fixed shutter times. For example, you want to start capturing when a car approaches and release the shutter as soon as Car drives past, so in this case bulb mode will give accurate light streaks.
  • Aperture: Use f/8 or more. This will keep more of the subject in focus. But if there is less light, then you can keep the aperture wide like f/4 or f/5.6. 
  • ISO: Keep the ISO low to keep the noise low. ISO of about 200-400 should be fine.
  • Focus: Use automatic focus if there is enough light, but most of the times at night, light is the issue so better use manual focus. One tip which can be followed is, use automatic focus and focus on moon or any far light and once it is focused then turn Manual focus on.
  • White Balance: Mostly I go with auto, tungsten or Daylight. You can experiment it as per your liking. If you click in RAW, you can change the White Balance during post processing as well.  
  • File Type: I almost always shoot in RAW format. The advantages of RAW will not be discussed here, but it gives lot of flexibility during post processing like adjusting the white balance, exposure, noise reduction to name a few.


Things to capture:-

  • Vehicle Light trails
  • City at night
  • Fireworks
  • Moon, planets and Stars
  • Star trails
  • Night landscapes
  • Reflection of buildings on river
  • Creative Bokeh of  street lights 
  • Light painting

 For all of the above, reducing the shutter speed, you can get lots of creative shots. Be creative and have fun :)  


Note:- These steps are written by me based on what worked well for me. Please browse on net to get more details, as there is lot of information available on night photography. 


Do let me know if this note was of any help and do share the blog with your friends as well :)  


Bike light trails and stars in background

EXIF:- f/4.5, 49sec, ISO 800, focal 18mm


Clicked at Sus road, Pune 
EXIF:- f/11, 10 sec, ISO 400, 18mm




Long exposure pic... 8 seconds shutter speed


Long exposure pic.. 3 seconds shutter speed


Long exposure pic.. 4 seconds shutter speed


Long exposure pic.. 4 seconds shutter speed

Long exposure pic.. 20 seconds shutter speed


This is a star trail image of 146 composite shot, each shot clicked with 30 second exposure.

For more details on how to click star trails, click here


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