The Basics of Night Photography

Any type of photography can be a great learning experience. When I took my first night photo, I was instantly drawn to the challenge and beauty of the whole process. MilkyWayAurora

Here are the basics to Night Photography:

  1. DSLR or Mirrorless Camera – you need a camera with the ability to adjust shutter speed. There are a lot of options out there that range in price, I used a Canon Rebel T5i for a couple years before upgrading to a Canon 6D. A fancy camera doesn’t make good photos, the skills and ability to use the camera does!
  2. Wide Angle Lens – most photographers will use a wide angle lens when it comes to landscape or night photography because it allows you to capture a wider range of view. This is not a necessary thing to have for night photography, but it helps! Aperture is most important, having the ability to open wide enough to allow as much light in as possible is ideal. Look for ‘fast’ lenses with f/1.8, f/2.8. f/3.5.
  3. Tripod – when your camera’s shutter is open, even just for a second, camera shake is almost a guarantee. In order to ensure your photos are sharp and in focus, using a tripod helps to stabilize the camera.
  4. Shutter Release – even by just pushing the shutter button you could cause the image to loose focus. A shutter release or using a timer allows the camera to remain stable as soon as the shutter opens until it closes.
  5. Settings – I am often asked what settings I use for night photos, the answer is a huge variety! It depends on the brightness of the night, the subject and the goal of the shot. I often say to start at 10 seconds, ISO 1600, Wide open aperture (f/2,8) and adjust as needed. This could mean you adjust any of theses settings either up or down. Using your histogram when you are out in the field is key, often the photo you are looking at in the dark is not as bright as it may appear.
  6. Prepare – things look a lot different at night, landscapes included! It is a good idea to prepare by scouting out the location during the day to familiarize yourself with it and knowing the weather conditions to dress accordingly.

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