Night Photography Cheat Sheet

Ravinda Joisa Photography - Night photography

Have you tried capturing photos at night or experimented with night photography ? Most of us have tried this either to get an over exposed subject, caused due to bright flash or a blurred image when flash isn’t used. Night photography is a bit tricky and you need to know a little bit about your camera settings. If you know that then night photography can be of great fun.

The first thing is to use a tripod. A good sturdy tripod is a must to get the best and sharp image quality. Also, use a wireless trigger or a cable release while doing night photography to avoid any kind of camera shake in the image. Using the default release button may cause slight camera shake, you can see that when zoomed in to the picture. You many use third party camera accessories for the shutter release and doesn’t cost much. In the worst case you can use timer.

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Here in this article I will be speaking about night photography and what settings to use to capture night sky. Now that the tripod and trigger is ready, set the camera mode to Manual and choose the metering mode to Matrix. I recommend using a wide angle lens like 14-24 mm lens. In the above image I have used Nikon D600 body along with Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 lens.

Others recommend to keep the ISO as low as possible. I would say that with the latest cameras and the sensors that are being used, you can get great images even with high ISO without noise. Don’t go to the extreme end of ISO, just to be on safer side and to avoid noisy and exaggerated or odd contrast images. If you have an old camera then I recommend you to keep ISO as low as possible, but if you are using some of the latest (Full frame) cameras then you may boost ISO. I usually do not go beyond 3200 ISO and usually go with the ISO 1600. Keep the aperture at around f16 and not too wide open. Try with the shutter at around 20 or 30 seconds. Because the shutter is open for 20 secs, it makes sense to keep the aperture at around f16 (long exposure and to keep everything in focus). A shutter speed of more than 20-30 secs will make the stars look as though it was a camera shake, but is not. Is is caused due to movement of earth. You may use bulb mode for all long exposure shots and to capture star trails.

More details and camera settings:
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Posted by Ravindra Joisa Photography on Friday, August 23, 2013

See that you choose a place that is dark. You might not want to do night photography when there is moon light or in a city full of light pollution. I do this when I go to a village or in my home-town where there are no industrial or city light. Check on composition of the image. You may put something in foreground, but may appear dark when you do night photography. So, use hand torch to light-up the foreground and move it around, as shown in the first image where I have used torch light (and a lamp) to light-up the foreground/coconut trees. Give it a try, let me know what you think and share your pics in the comment below. Don’t forget to follow me on social media for more updates of this kind.