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6 Tips for Night Photography
Lighting, Manual Mode Tips, Photography Ideas

All too often we put our cameras away when the sunsets. I know I am guilty of this because I use natural light in 99% of my photos. However, I encourage you to take some time this week to practice night photography.

night photography tips

There are so many different type of photos you can capture at night time.

  • No.
    01

    Play with lights to paint images or use the tail lights of cars to show movement.

    ISO 100, f/22, SS 6 seconds

    ISO 800, f/32, SS 20 seconds

  • No.
    02
    Use different light to illuminate your subject.

    It’s really fun to use different types of light in your images during night photography. When shooting at night you have the option to use all sorts of lights to add a dramatic look. You can use electronics, light from another room, or even light from the refrigerator.

    ISO 3200, f/2.8, SS 1/100


    ISO 6400, f/3.2, SS 1/100


    ISO 1600, f/3.5, SS 1/80

  • No.
    03
    Use a tripod and keep your ISO low.

    When you are not shooting a moving subject get your tripod out. This will allow you to keep your ISO as low as possible and decrease your chances of noise. I have a fantastic travel tripod that is light weight and has a ball head. If you don’t have a tripod available, rest your camera on something sturdy. If you are using the side of the bridge like I have before make sure the strap is around your neck incase you drop your camera. :O) However, if you are photographing people or moving objects please bump up your ISO so your photo is properly exposed.

    Tokyo Disney does not allow tripods, used a bush and a back pack. ISO 250, f/32, SS 25 sec.

  • No.
    04
    Capture the activity that goes on at night.

    If you are out you can still capture the activity of a festival or the quiet of a street.

    ISo 800, f/3.2, SS 1/100


    ISO 100, f/4, SS 0.6 seconds

  • No.
    05
    Use your imagination.

    Have you thought of an emotional picture that would only enhance the image if taken at night with dramatic lighting??

    ISO 6400, f/2.8, SS 1/160

  • No.
    06
    Change your metering mode to evaluative (Canon) or matrix (Nikon).

    Since you probably shoot on spot metering 99% of the time you want to change your night time shots to this setting. Unlike spot metering, this mode takes all the light and dark into consideration when figuring out your exposure.

    ISO 200, f/4.5, SS 4 seconds

I challenge you to keep your camera out after the sunset this week. What will you capture? Will you step outside your comfort zone??

43 Comments
  • September 27, 2011 at 8:23 AM

    Guilty as charged! I do tend to put my camera away after sunset. Great post and great reminders!

  • September 27, 2011 at 8:34 AM

    I’ve been meaning to do this ..thanks for the final push to get myself out tomorrow evening!

  • Christina
    September 27, 2011 at 8:47 AM

    I’ve been dying to get a shot of traffic like that! Too bad I live in a small town. I think I might try some light painting tonight :)

  • September 27, 2011 at 8:49 AM

    I am TOTALLY dying to do one of those traffic shots. Especially living in the New York I really want one of those shots & am looking forward to going into the city to see if I can do it but tomorrow I will be out & will take your challenge around my neighborhood!

  • September 27, 2011 at 9:05 AM

    Thank you! I have yet to experiment with night photography, but I’ve always been a bit timid – I don’t quite know what to do. I’ll keep these ideas in mind when I start playing with my new tripod :)

  • September 27, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    Been doing it and loving it!!

  • September 27, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    I am so glad you did this post! I am way guilty of putting my camera away when it starts getting dark. And I have been wanting to try some night shots and light painting. Thanks for all these tips. I can’t wait to try it some more.

  • September 27, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    Love your shots! Great tips as well!

  • September 27, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    Love. Great tip on the evaluative metering. Never would have thought of that!

  • September 27, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    Wonderful shots. I shared my tips here. http://naptimemomtog.com/tutorial-photography/night-photography-tips-tricks/ I think I like yours better.

  • September 28, 2011 at 6:33 AM

    Loved this post! Thanks!!

  • September 28, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    Great shots! Love your work!

  • October 1, 2011 at 8:06 AM

    That’s so funny that you posted that this week- I had a note to myself to do some light painting this weekend! I’ve done it in the past, but wanted to try it again now that I better know how to use my camera- can’t wait to share!

  • rachel
    November 13, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    love this! i missed a fun shot last night, but with this info i’m fully armed for next time. my baby has one of those cute turtle nightlights that projects stars on the ceiling, and i wanted to get a silhouette of my husband putting him to sleep in his dark nursery against the blinds lit up by the street lights:). i will just bump up the ISO like crazy and see what i can get!

  • January 30, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    Thank you for this.
    on the weekend my husband and i went snowshoeing under the full moon. i brought my camera, and knew i’d have issues since i haven’t figure out many of the uses for the settings on my camera – slowly but surely. i also didn’t bring a tripod (knowing i’d never be still enough). but had fun attempting moon shots. this is a great post, wish i had read it before i went. thanks for the tips and sharing this with the world. next time i’ll reread this.. and i’ll practice in the up coming nights.

    • Courtney
      February 6, 2013 at 2:41 PM

      Glad you found it useful! Night photography can be so fun and moons can be such a challenge :)

      • Carol Gebhart
        January 10, 2016 at 6:17 PM

        I have done moon shots and without a tripod. They turned out pretty good. Maybe it was just look!

  • Michelle
    January 30, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    that is not my twitter name on my previous post – i don’t have twitter.

  • Shelly Conlon
    January 3, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    how do I get increased ISO…my Nikon only goes to like 3200??

    • January 3, 2014 at 3:53 PM

      Are you shooting in manual mode? I don’t have a 3200 so I don’t know but if you google “how to change ISO on a Nikon D3200” I’m sure there is a video out there :)

  • Shelly Conlon
    January 3, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    Thank you!

  • January 26, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    Oh my! I’m blown away by your photos. i’m also a SAHM and is currently falling in love with photography. This blog is a great source of information and inspiration. ♥

  • February 2, 2014 at 8:48 PM

    Great post. I really appreciate your hard works. excellent shots aswell :)

  • Myrna Slater
    March 1, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    Question: I have trouble getting nice shots at our high school musical events. Some bad lighting at one school and the other – fast moving and even still shots come out fuzzy. Usually flash is not allowed. I just have a Panasonic DMC-T25 Lumix which usually takes some pretty good pictures. Any advice?

    • March 4, 2014 at 5:50 PM

      If you are shooting in manual mode make sure your shutter speed is fast enough to freeze the moment, maybe around 1/1200 and your ISO is really high to let in the most light :)

  • Arjit
    March 19, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    Good to know

  • kerry
    April 14, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    I am hoping to do a glow in the dark easter egg hunt for my kids..i just got my 1st dslr camera..nikon 5300..any suggestions on settings?

    • April 16, 2014 at 10:41 AM

      That is tricky. I think it is all going to depend on how much light is in the room. Good luck!

  • June 10, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    Great shots and super information…Thank You!

  • June 11, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    I am working on my photography and have a long way to go! I have two questions – did you use a flash in any of these? In looking at your ISO settings on each picture – they are so different for pictures that seem to be taken in similar light (or should I say darkness :) how do you decide proper ISO? I struggle with this is dimly lit areas – for example I really want to get a shot of my husband reading to my son at night while his bedside dim light is on and I want to take it non evasively from the doorway but can’t get it light enough to see them. thanks.

    • June 16, 2014 at 1:50 PM

      Hey Tammy,

      No, I don’t use flash in any of my images. For the ISO, I first set my shutter speed and aperture to what I want it. Then I increase my ISO as needed :) Don’t be afraid to crank it up.

  • November 1, 2014 at 8:59 PM

    This is a FABULOUS reference post, thank you so much! I am definitely guilty of putting away the camera when the sun goes down. I will be trying these :)

  • Atif
    November 22, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    Hi,
    Very nice pics
    Which camera u are using?
    I don’t know any thing about manual photography, but trying to learn. I have Nikon D3100.
    Thanks

    • November 25, 2014 at 12:40 PM

      These photos are taken with either my Nikon D90 or Nikon D700.

  • Better-Photography
    April 1, 2015 at 10:20 PM

    Thanks for the tips and I love the images!

    In terms of metering mode, personally I have noticed that when I’m shooting at night, if I use the matrix metering on my Nikon, the camera wants to make things too bright. I’ve found that I get better exposure if I underexpose by about 2 stops. So I either use exposure comp/bracketing to get me to 2 stops under or switch to manual and do it that way. That is, unless I’m shooting the moon. Then I’m back to my trusty spot meter mode!

    Thanks again!

    Mary

    http://better-photography.com/

    • Peter Bates
      May 30, 2015 at 8:36 AM

      It’s true. You should underexposed when taking straight night shots. However, when taking twilight street shots, it’s best to bracket and create an HDR photo.
      Hdrbodega.photo.com

  • Melanie McDonald
    October 24, 2015 at 8:18 AM

    Thank you for the reminders. I have a night 5K to shoot tonight! Wish me luck!

  • Chris
    April 30, 2016 at 3:26 PM

    Awesome reminder I have yet to come back out shooting at night. Check out my instagram page for the night shots @chrismiralles.us

  • tom
    May 1, 2016 at 4:22 AM

    I always find to photograph available light (night time) when there is just some light not much gives me the best results

  • Amanda
    June 7, 2016 at 2:39 PM

    I’ve always been scared or timid to try night time photography, as far as what settings to use and what will my photos look like. Maybe it’s time to stop worrying and just go do it. Loved these tips.

  • Grace
    June 11, 2016 at 7:48 PM

    I was given an assignment to take 75 pics in total composing of both slow and fast speed shots. I was at a lost for ideas as we were told to omit kids, pets, certain local parks, animals all of which was at the top of my list. Stumbling on these great pics certainly came in handy as I will try to replicate some of these ideas even though they won’t be as gorgeous.

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