Most cities look amazing at night, with lights on buildings and landmarks. But trying to take photographs of them without good technique can lead to photos that don’t do the scene justice.
To get shots such as the above you can use settings such as below to get well exposed and sharp images using a decent Canon, Nikon SLR or similar camera.
You would also need a decent tripod. This is because night photography often requires long exposures, so hand shake can cause the photos to be blurry.
- Camera Mode: Aperture Priority (AV Canon, A Nikon). This is so that you can set the desired depth of field.
- Shutter speed: 10-30 seconds set by Camera. If the picture is still coming out dark, use Bulb mode and extend the shutter speed past 30 seconds. It may be a case of trial and error to work out how many seconds you need here.
- Aperture: F/4-F/16 – a smaller aperture such as F/11-F/16 will introduce an attractive star effect from lights. A higher aperture than F/16 may cause diffraction which is an unwanted softening of the image (image less sharp) so it’s best not to go too high.
- ISO: 100 (To keep noise to a minimum).
- Focus: Manual Focus using Liveview if you have it. I often focus on a building or object that I want to be in focus. It helps if there’s text somewhere on a building to ensure you have the perfect focus.
- White Balance: Auto. If you shoot raw you can change this later if it doesn’t look right. Sometimes shooting around street lights can cause the picture to look quite orange, it’s often worth correcting this in Lightroom or a similar program at a later date.
- Use a Timer Remote Shutter Release Control or self timer of 10 seconds.
- Set Mirror lockup, this reduces any vibration from the camera moving the mirror up at the start of exposure.
- Image stabilisation (IS Canon, VR Nikon) off (This is because when set to on, the camera will try and find movement that doesn’t exist.
Taking the shot
Using the settings above, use the remote or self timer to take the photos. Here are some more examples of images taken using these techniques.
I hope this helps you capture great photographs at night. If you have any questions feel free to send a message or leave a comment below.
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