You don’t have to be left in the dark when trying to capture photos at night. Here are a few tips to help you capture the magic and allure of nighttime through your camera lens.
- If possible, photograph at dusk or dawn when twilight is lingering, and the sky is midnight blue instead of pitch black. This is usually 45 minutes after sunset or 45 minutes before sunrise.
- Set your camera to a high ISO setting. Most digital cameras have very little digital noise between 800 and 1600 ISO. In fact, many newer camera sensors perform very well at even higher ISO – all the way up to 6400.
- Set your camera’s metering mode to Manual or Shutter priority (TV on Canon). This will allow you to make a long exposure anywhere from three to 15 seconds, depending on the light in the scene you are photographing.
- Use a tripod or camera support, if you have one. If not, turn on the camera or lens feature for vibration reduction, and try to hold the camera as still as possible while pressing the shutter button.
- Taking wide-angle photos rather than using a zoom or telephoto lens will improve the sharpness of your photos.
- To help the camera focus in the dark, point your camera at a subject/scene that includes both light and dark areas. It is easier for the autofocus to work in the dark if scene has some contrast. If you still cannot achieve a good focus, some cameras will allow you to turn off the autofocus and do it manually. Aiming at something bright in your viewfinder that is about the same distance from the camera as the scene you would like to photograph will sometimes help with focusing in the dark.
- Do not use your camera flash. If you are using an automatic setting, you may want to disable the flash so the camera will be forced to take a longer exposure. This allows you to capture all the ambient lighting without the flash illuminating only the foreground or those subjects within a few feet of you.
- If you are using a cell phone turn off the flash, use the night mode setting and hold the camera steady. Some of the advanced iPhones can detect low light scenes and will kick in the night-mode features automatically. If the camera senses you are on a tripod, it will even allow for exposures as long as 10 seconds resulting in beautiful nighttime photos.