Last night we were out shooting in the night. For me night shooting possesses a certain magic, and seen from my computer screen a discipline way overlooked by many. Shooting at night can reward you with stunning pictures, friendship and a challenge that will move you forward as a photographer.
If it is not already obvious to anyone, then let me tell you that shooting raw is a must. Post processing is half the picture, and by shooting in RAW your images gives you the maximum potential for enhancing your shots in Adobe Camera Raw.
Shooting at night obviously gives great potential for high contrast pictures. It also implies slow shutter speeds often beyond 1-30 seconds, this also means that hand-held photography is ranging from extremely difficult to utter impossible. To get these crisp pictures you need a way to keep your camera rock steady, and a sturdy tripod is just what you need.
Planning is everything
As I wrote in a former blog post is planning everything. Have a plan how to get to the desired location, which angle you want to be shooting at, the lens you will be using, think what expression you want to capture. Surely this is also important at daytime, but at night time things tend to get complicated and it quickly pays off when you plan ahead.
The love of glass
Pay attention to your glass, using a fast sharp prime is to be preferred. This does not need to set you back thousands of dollars. I use a Samyang 14mm f/2.8, which did set me back with 200usd. This lens deserves a blogpost by itself, and I hope to get around doing just that in a very near future. In short it is a Dark Hole of a lens; it will not let any light escape, and is super sharp even when shooting wide open. I recommend shooting within the sweet spot range of your lens, which is usually found between f/8 and f/11. Using a prime combined with a narrow aperture will also make it easy to produce starburst effect. These diffractions can introduce a magical element to your photos.
Manual, Manual I said Manual
It should be clear by now that shooting at night is within the realm of advanced photography. Your cameras electronics will not be able to AI it out for you. Taking control of your exposures is the only way, and the best is to shoot in Manual mode so you can choose the best ISO, Aperture and Slow Shutter speed suiting the light conditions and motive. Often it is better to underexpose your photos by a stop to get that sweet blackness!