Mesa Arts Center - Mesa, AZAside from displaying my photography, one of the purposes of this blog is to pass on some of the things I learn as I experiment with and explore photography.  Since I have been doing so much night time photography lately I figured this was the perfect opportunity to list out some of the tips I have learned both through my own trial and error and through reading the numerous online tutorials that are available.  I pointed out a few things I had figured out during my first attempt at night photography in San Diego a few months ago.  That outing got me hooked and I have since done numerous additional photo shoots at night so I have picked up a few more tid-bits.  Here are a few things that I hope will help you out next time you venture out with your camera after dark.

  1. I mentioned this before, but I think it is worth repeating, some method of keeping your camera steady, other than hoping for steady hands, is essential.  A tripod is ideal for this of course.  But if you do not have one available don’t let that dissuade you, you can always improvise with a nearby rock, bench, railing or anything to set you camera on and hold it steady.
  2. Most DSLRs now have some form of image stabilization or “Steady Shot” to reduce camera shake.  I had not thought of this before reading DSLR Tips’ tutorial on Night Photography but since you are using a tripod the mechanism in the camera or lens to compensate for camera shake is not necessary.  In fact, they claim it can cause other distortions in your picture as it tries to correct for something that is not there with the tripod, camera shake.  So turn this feature of your camera or lens off for night photography.
  3. Depending on the effect you are going for, this may not be a blanket rule that applies to all photography after dark, but in general set your aperture (f-stop) to its lowest setting (widest opening).  This will allow for the most light to reach the sensor.
  4. With your aperture fully open you can leave it alone and only adjust your shutter speed with each shot.  Try the same shot with varying shutter speeds.  You can even bracket by shooting at one speed then trying the next speed up and down capturing each image three times at three speeds to determine which works best.
  5. Finally, this rule is not limited to night time photography exclusively, but all of your photography in general.  Have patience!  Being in a hurry may result in some nice snap shots, but not necessarily the great photographs you are aiming for.  Slow down and think about what you are doing, what your camera settings are, and what you want to accomplish with the click of the shutter.

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