Night shots capture the imagination and the eye.
It is all about making sure that your viewer is drawn into your photograph. The rich colours and strong contrasts are really great for attracting the eye. In this post we will look at doing great night photography.
Night photography is simple
A lot of starters think night photography is difficult. Well it is not difficult, it is different. There is less light – obviously. There is also more light in some ways. This is because the difference between the light and dark portions of your picture are more extreme. In A quick tip to help you see the light (or darkness) we saw that the camera is not as good as the eye in distinguishing wide differences between light and dark. When shooting at night that is something we should remember.
We should not point our camera at a very bright light source at night. This is because it will over-expose quickly and the rest of the scene will remain dark. The darker parts expose slower. Try to find ways to expose your scene where the spread of light is of less extreme whites and blacks.
The concept of night photography is about exploiting light when the rest of the environment is dark. The aim therefore is to make sure you are exposing for the light you want to bring out in your picture. Almost certainly that will mean you need to do longer exposure than for the daytime. As you will see in the video this is not complicated to do. You will need to explore some settings you may not have used before. But photography is all about learning – right? OK…
Here is one idea that will simplify the thinking behind all sorts of exposure situations…
- Picture a bucket in your mind.
- Now picture filling it up with a hose.
- At first you turn the tap a very little.
- The water trickles out.
- The bucket takes a long time to fill to the brim, but does get there.
- Now repeat with the tap turned up more (twice as fast).
- The bucket fills faster. In half the time in fact.
- Now repeat again filling the bucket to the brim – tap open fully (speed x4).
- The bucked fills half as fast again.
The bucket of water is like an exposure. To get the picture light enough you need to fill the camera with the right amount of light (to the bucket rim). At night you have to wait a long time for your exposure to fill to the brim (water at a trickle) because there is less light around. In early evening/dusk you have to wait for the exposure to fill in half the time (tap at half speed) because there is more light before sundown. During the day all that light pretty much zaps the bucket (sorry camera) full of light in double quick time.
OK, now you know all there is to know about exposure. That’s it. All you have to do is practice with the camera settings to wait for a while to fill up at night, wide aperture, long shutter opening to let in as much light as possible.
In the video the CameraLabs team have described the types of setting you might use and how to set them up. The explanation is clear and the settings simple. I think you will learn a lot.
As an aside…
You notice in my bucket analogy how we tested fills? In photography each time you go up or down a stop of light you are halving or doubling the amount of light. Of course, in the bucket situation the timing and change-of-fill speed are not accurate – its only a thought experiment. But you get the idea. I am trying to show you how an exposure builds up over seconds (at night) or thousandths of seconds (during the day). And, the rate it fills is related to the amount of light around. That is measured in stops. Consider reading this article: Definition: f number; f stop; Stop. It will help you to understand the relationship between stops of light and exposure.