There is something magical about the dark of the night – the mysterious lights from office windows floating in the middle of the night, the flickering neon lights, the sleepy lamp post on a deserted and dark street. Night photography is an exciting but demanding endeavor. The challenge of capturing scintillating images depends on whether your camera is designed for night photography and on some simple techniques.
Is your camera night photography capable?
Your life will depend on your camera if you want to venture in night photography. For great night photos, you need a digital camera that enables you to keep the shutter open for a longer time. Anywhere between 3 and 30 seconds will do. When buying a digital camera, check the shutter speed.
If you want to get serious with night photography, buy a camera with the longest shutter speed possible. But before you rush to the nearest store for that camera, you need to check more features: shooting modes, self timer and remote controller.
A and P shooting modes
The image sensor of your digital camera must be exposed to light to capture an image. There is a big problem: we do not have enough light at night. Too often, if you select an Auto (A) or Program Auto (P) shooting mode, night photos always come out very dark (underexposed). But why does that happen – if you have shutter speed ranges of, for example, 10 sec. to 1/2,000 sec.?
Check your digital camera’s User’s Manual and see if all the shutter speeds are available in Auto or P mode. The whole shutter speed range is not available in both modes in many digital cameras. Perhaps the slowest shutter speed available is 1/3 sec, not long enough for night photography. In order to access longer shutter speeds, select another shooting mode (for example, Shutter-Priority). You may even switch to full Manual mode.
Self-timer and remote controller
A self-timer or a remote controller is an essential feature that your digital camera must have. With these features, you can depress the shutter release button minus the camera shake. However, not all cameras come with a remote controller or even have it available optionally. The good news is that most cameras have a self-timer, which often counts down from 10 sec.
Buy a tripod
You may want to buy a sturdy tripod if you still do not have this camera accessory. You will need it as the digital camera must be kept rock steady when the shutter stays open for a long time. Otherwise, the camera will shake and you end up with blurry images.