Night photo tips: how to handle the lights

Night photo tips: how to handle the lights

10 things which you should bear in mind for night photographs

Photographs appear particularly interesting at night. Yet unfortunately images are often greyer at night, because colours cannot be perceived without light. Nevertheless, you don't have to do without good night photographs, provided you use the suitable camera settings. ifolor provides you with 10 tips to put your night photographs in the right light.

1) Use the right light

Even if it is dark at night, it is never totally dark. That is why you should pay attention to which sources of light are available to you for the photograph. Moonlight, for instance, is much harsher than sunlight. You should avoid bright sources of light nearby because of possible reflections in the lens.

2) The right time

You can capture the most beautiful night mood with a camera during the so-called “blue hour”, when the last or first sunlight falls very flat on the earth. However, the stars and the moon can be photographed in total darkness.

3) The best night motif

Moods can be captured much better in darkness than during the daytime, but details can often not be seen. Here you decide more for the perspective than the motif. That is why you should pay attention to lighting effects which you can integrate, like strings of lights or lanterns. The moon and stars or fireworks are always interesting motifs - or try using the time exposure on a busy road so that the headlights become long lines.

Night photo tips: how to handle the lights

4) Select ISO value correctly

Now we come to the camera settings. The ISO value, aperture and shutter speed can hardly be considered as separate entities for a night photograph. They must be well-combined with each other to achieve a perfect result. That is why you should turn off the camera'’s automatic night program and adjust everything manually. The ISO value is an important factor in this sense, because the image sensor’'s light sensitivity is adjusted to it. The higher the ISO value and the more light-sensitive the sensor is, the more image noise appears. That is why even photographs in the dark should preferably be taken with a low ISO value, whereas aperture and shutter speeds compensate for this.

5) Use long shutter speeds

The darker it is outside, the longer the sensor (or formerly the film) has to be exposed. You can achieve time exposure by means of a long shutter speed, i.e. the time in which the image strikes the sensor. Depending on the lighting situation as well as the overall atmosphere of the image, an exposure of around 30 seconds should be taken at night. You absolutely must mount the camera on a tripod so that the image does not blur.

6) Small aperture against disturbances

A long shutter speed increases the likelihood that something in the motif will change during this time. Therefore, it's best to use a small aperture in order to avoid disturbances in the image. The following saying applies among photographers: “photos at night, pay attention to the aperture.”

Night photo tips: how to handle the lights

7) Use the self-timer and mirror lock-up

In addition to the change of motif, the shaking of the camera itself is a major problem with long shutter speeds. It's therefore best if you use the self-timer or remote control. This means that at the start of the photo you don't touch the camera and can't blur the photograph. Many single-lens reflex cameras also provide the so-called “mirror lock-up” as an option, through which the mirror is flipped up before the image is released, because the mirror impact itself is a frequent reason for blurred images with time exposure.

8) Use the RAW format

Night photographs can quickly be underexposed. You should switch your camera– from JPG mode into the RAW mode, and save the images without loss as raw data. This makes subsequent image editing easier.

9) Focusing in the dark

Autofocus is tempting if you can no longer recognise which object you
are focusing on through the viewfinder or in the display at night - but
the autofocus has the same problem with high contrast differences. That
is why the following applies to night photographs: if the autofocus can
adjust to a point, use it. But if this is not possible, try to manually
adjust the focus.

10) Night photos: No flash!

The camera’'s built-in flash is also ideal for use at night, though it only illuminates the immediate environment. Night photographs are characterised by the fact that you can capture distant motifs which the flash cannot reach. Moreover, the camera uses the automatic programmes adjusted by the flash, which leads to the fact that the images often become too dark in the end. It is preferable to omit the flash.

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