I love night photographs they give you the chance to be a little creative and try something without necessarily knowing what the outcome will be. For me the most important thing is to go out try something different and have some fun. Your subject can be anything from the excitement of a firework display to a quiet stretch of road.
Here are a few little tips to help you get started, but like everything in photography, try these then try it differently you might just love what you get.
- ‘Use a tripod’ – how many times have you heard this one? If you have a tripod and you have it with you then fine ‘use it’ if you don’t then find a surface to rest your camera on, a table, a wall or even the floor. Or just find somewhere you can lean, I have managed to hand hold for several seconds leaning against a lamp post. Hand hold and move the camera during the exposure, my daughter has a loverly picture she took of street lights while she was moving the camera slowly from left to right while making loops. Tripods are good but think outside the box.
- ‘Use a cable release’ – I generally keep one in my bag because they are light and don’t take up much space but like the tripod if you don’t have one, then don’t worry, almost all cameras have a delayed/timed shutter release so don’t worry if you don’t have one. If you are using an slr find out if there is a mirror lock up mode to reduce vibration from mirror slap.
- ‘Shoot Manual’ – if possible, it just gives you so much more control and consistency, and it isn’t as hard as some people make out and once you get used to it I promise you will not go back. Don’t forget you are (almost certainly) shooting digital so if you get it wrong you can always hit delete and it has cost you nothing and you will probably have leaned how not to take a good picture which gets you another step closer to knowing how to take a good picture.
- ‘Aperture’ – this will depend on what you are shooting, how much light is available and what effect you want to achieve. If for instance you are photographing light trails a large aperture like f2.8 will make the light thinker and of course a small aperture like f22 will make them thinner. If you are shooting a scene with street lamps a small aperture like f16 or above will create that star effect with the light.
- ‘Exposure time’ – again very dependent on what you are shooting and what action happens in what time. When shooting fireworks I tend to shoot in 1 – 4 second exposures, timing the shot to capture the full firework, sometimes I’ll shoot 30 seconds and fill the frame with lots of explosions. When shooting light trails on a road I tend to shoot at least 30 second exposures and up to 10 minutes depending on what I want to achieve. If you have a cable release I suggest setting the camera to ‘bulb’ mode and controlling the exposure time with the cable, that way you can respond to what is happening within the frame.
- ‘ISO’ – as a rule of thumb I try to stay as low as I can and if at all possible I’ll shoot at 100 but I use iso to balance exposure and aperture; for instance if I want to shoot at f22 to give good street lights but I want to gather lots of ambient light and still have good light trails from passing cars in a short exposure time I will have to crank up my iso to allow me to get the shot quickly this can be more relevant is you are without your tripod.
- ‘Chimp’ – as you play with different settings look in you lcd, again you are probably shooting digital so you don’t need to wait for the shots to come back from the lab to know if you need more or less light. Even if you are shooting film, do a few test shots with a digital camera so you know how to set your ‘fslr’.
- ‘Experiment & have fun’ – try something different and every image to take that you don’t like is an opportunity to learn how not to take that shot and the more bad photographs you take the quicker you will learn.
You can see more of my work on our web site at: www.bryanfarrell.co.uk or find examples of some of my other work including other wedding work on Facebook just search Photography by Bryan Farrell.
Feel free to get in touch: 07955 888 761, firstname.lastname@example.org
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