Week #33: Night Photography

Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will still be among the stars.
~ Les Brown

As we constantly remind you around here, “photography” literally means “drawing with light.” That right there should be a clue as to why Night Photography can be considered a challenge. There’s less light, and therefore drawing with it can prove more difficult.

But don’t let that deter you! The challenge of shooting at night is what makes it so important. It really forces you to consider the light in your environment, which is a great exercise for taking photos any time of day! In daytime shooting, light floods our camera’s sensors and we think about where and how to place the shadows to create forms. At night, you’re starting with a black canvas and you have to decide where the light goes.

Even beyond the technical benefits, the night holds many wonders and new perspectives. Taking our camera out when the sun goes down affords us the opportunity to see our worlds in a whole new (lack of) light.

Tips and Tuts for this week:

  • Use a tripod! Use a tripod! Use a tripod! This will allow you to keep your shutter open longer, without getting blur from the camera’s movement. Just remember that if your subject is moving, they’ll be blurrier the slower your shutter speed!
  • Speaking of slow shutter speeds, this week is a great opportunity to revisit light painting!
  • Night photography really lends itself to wide-angle photography. Capture the majesty or chaos of your environment by working with a wider lens. Zoom lenses are less helpful at night, because there is less detail for them to find.
  • Pictures still coming out too dark? Remember to boost your camera’s ISO to make the camera’s sensor even more sensitive to light.
  • This article offers some tips on shooting in lots of different nighttime environments. Shooting a cityscape? Try this article.

Looking for more inspiration? Check out the Night album (Week 9, 2013), and of course, the Googles. There are plenty of tips, tutorials, and inspirations all over the web!

Extra Credit: Astrophotography

Look up. Higher. Higher. Hiiiiigher!
For extra credit, let’s engage in some astrophotography – taking pictures of the night skies, stars, and celestial spheres. You’ll definitely want a tripod. Follow along this very thorough tutorial to get you going. And you’ll certainly want to find a dark area, away from all the urban light pollution. Twinkle twinkle!

Remember, it is not necessary to work in this Extra Credit piece. It’s extra credit!

Have a challenge idea for 2016?