Taking Photos at Night

Eiffel-TowerTaking photos at night can be a frustrating experience.  The photo is way too dark.  Now it is blurry.  I tried the flash, but that just washed everything out.  What do I do?  Here are some tips for taking better photos in the dark.

Change the ISO

Even if you have a basic point and shoot, you should be able to change the ISO.  ISO is one of the most effective ways I have found to adjust the exposure for dark settings.  The higher the number, the more light that is let in.  Make sure you test changing your ISO before a trip.  Different cameras allow for different quality.  Ideally, the best quality can be found with 100 ISO, but sometimes the lighting calls for 1600.  Typically, the higher you go, the grainier the picture, but practice with your camera to see what happens.

Change the Aperture

Changing the aperture is another way to adjust the exposure.  If you are working with a point and shoot, you may not be able to do anything about this.  Aperture is measured in f-stops.  The lower f-stop (i.e. f 2.8) lets in more light.  Use a lower f-stop at night or in a darker scene.

Change the Shutter Speed

The final way to change the exposure is by changing the shutter speed.  The longer the shutter is open, the more light that can enter.  If you have ever seen images with bright stars moving, they get this effect by leaving the shutter open for a long time to capture the movement of the stars.  The issue with changing this feature is you need to be deadly still.  That is where the next tip comes in.

Use a Tripod

Tripods can help a lot with letting in more light and reducing blur to improve night photos.  Although this may not be the most convenient option, it definitely makes a difference.  Don’t think you need to bring a honking tripod.  Simple table-top tripods can be very useful and easy to stow away.

Another tool that can help you keep the camera still on the tripod is a remote.  The remote can be wired or wireless, but it prevents the movement that takes place when you press down the shutter.

Change Your Angle

Sometimes we just need to move around a bit to be able to capture more light.  If you are standing under a tree that is shaded from all light, move out from under the tree so that your camera can use what is available.

**If you see something you’d like to try, but need help figuring out how to do it, please feel free to ask.  Remember, I am a teacher, and I get pleasure out of showing someone how to do something for the first time.  Taking better photos in the dark takes practice.  Here is my homework assignment for you: go for a stroll some night to practice your new skills.

Have your own tips?  What do you do to improve your photos taken at night?

4 thoughts on “Taking Photos at Night

  1. Alex says:

    Your information is easily understandable, to me these types of things can be a bit tecky, but I do understand…thanks, but your subject matters that you’ve used to demonstrate your expertise are great

  2. Micheline Maloney says:

    Thank you so much for those interesting and easily understood photography lessons. Keep them coming!

  3. Capt Jill says:

    beautiful photos! I also like to take pictures at night (and hate to carry around a tripod), I mostly use a point and shoot since it’s easiest to carry around. I tried to take a bunch of moon shots recently and found that 800 or 1600 ISO worked really well. Thanks for your helpful tips.

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