Night Photography Basics

statue and night sky, city square, Brugge, BelgiumCity Square at Night, Brugge, Belgium

Sick of trying to take photos at popular locations teaming with tourists. Nighttime may well be the right time to give you the space and time you need to make really stunning images. Night skies, artificial lighting and less crowded spaces provide great creative opportunities for photography, as does changing weather.

The above photo was made in Brugge, Belgium. It was a warm summer's night, although the stormy sky promised a break in the weather. The photo is a combination of opposites: the warm artificial light, illuminating the stone statue, is balanced against the cool blue of the night sky; and the static nature of the statue and background buildings is contrasted against the wind-blow flags and clouds. There's also the metaphor of earth and sky which is a very interesting example of opposites.

Naturally as it was quite dark a relatively long exposure was required to get enough light onto the sensor to record the image, which is how it acquires its rather unique look. The amount of blur in the flags and clouds is dependent on the following:
  • The shutter speed at which the image is made
  • The speed at which the subject is moving
Some helpful hints to help make your nighttime photography session successful include the following:
  • Make sure your camera battery is charged prior to heading out
  • Make sure you employ an electronic cable release to prevent camera movement (blur)
  • Bring a torch to help located camera dials and controls (black on black)
  • Bring an umbrella to keep you and/or your camera dry, particularly when its tripod mounted
  • Bring a beanie or jacket in cooler weather. You're more likely to notice the wind/cold while standing around while undertaking long and/or multiple exposures  
I'd recommend you take your camera and tripod for a walk on the wild side. And it really is a different world after dark. Do all you can to keep you and your equipment safe and have fun.

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Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru