Essential Skills for Night Photography Beginners
If it is your first time to take photos of the night sky, then you definitely need a solid foundation for your night photography skills. But this is also for those who want to improve the way they deal with camera settings or want to venture on light painting.
- High quality shots
RAW is the way to go if you want to get the best night shots possible. Since images shot in RAW have retained the most aspects of the composition, it provides you with the best image quality. It won’t be too difficult to enhance your images with raw-processing software such as Adobe Camera Raw. RAW allows you to be more flexible in calculating other camera settings such as exposure time, colour temperature and such.
- Sharp pictures
Sharp pictures can only be achieved if you have a sturdy tripod. Handheld shots won’t give as much clarity and liveliness to your photos. Since the dark surroundings would require you to compensate with little illumination, meaning slow shutter speeds, then remember that 30 seconds is too slow to shoot hand-held and not get soft images. Make sure that the tripod is set up on a solid surface. Do not touch it because the slightest movement can cause blurring, which is a big no-no especially if you can only take one click of a special composition you’ve waited for hours.
You don’t just haul your camera gear and start clicking away. If you want a great-looking portfolio, choose your location wisely and in advance. This way, you can take advantage of the most striking areas around the area where it can give you promising results. Check which part of that town or city has the most interesting architecture and such. Other factors to consider are lighting conditions, traffic situation and safe place to set up.
- The ‘sweet spot’ range
Use the lens sweet spot to increase your chances of creating the sharpest and most vivid images at night. Even seasoned photographers are having difficulty getting their desired results when using the maximum and minimum apertures so it is safe to stay between f/8 and f/16 for now.
- Dealing with it manually
Use the manual mode so you can control your exposures. Night photography is also meant to be dealt with slow shutter speed and the best narrow aperture possible. Compose your shot and make sure you have the right focus. After setting a narrow f/16 aperture, dial in the right shutter speed. When the Exposure Level Mark reaches the centre of the Exposure Level Indicator, take some test shots. Then you can just make adjustments to get your desired results.
- The ‘starburst’ effect
If you want to make the street lights ‘sparkle’, use the f/16 aperture. It will also give you a greater depth of field and add sharpness to your foreground and background as well.
- Patience in your composition
Do not just take shots even if you have the freedom to do so. Study the scene carefully so you can evaluate all the aspects that would make for a perfect composition. Sometimes, you might miss out on angles that are not really well-lit. Or you may neglect some specific locations that are more photogenic than the ones you have chosen earlier. After assessing all the elements, just move closer to the subject and click away.
- Enabling mirror lock-up
You don’t want the slightest camera movement ruin your entire composition. Use the mirror lock-up so it won’t move up and down inside your DLSR.
- No touching please
Night photography requires longer exposures but it also potential camera shake. Use the built-in self-timer to avoid blurred results. You can also use a remote release for best results.