Taking photos at night is not easy. The common reasons include but not limited to the following:
- Poor lighting condition
- Big contrast between the background and the subject
- Blurry images
The theories behind these are very complicated. Taking excellent photos often requires years of practices. So considering you use a small (not necessarily SRL) camera, I would like to share some simple knowledge and quick tips to minimise your pain of taking photos at night.
As you might have already known, the main settings in a camera include aperture and shutter speed. “Av” is the aperture priority setting. This is a better option for shooting static subjects. And the “shutter speed priority” is the “Tv” mode on the wheel. It is good for taking photos of moving subject. When the lighting condition is poor, what you need is a combination of high aperture and slow shutter speed. For aperture, the smaller the number the bigger the exposure is. But remember, by using high aperture, the depth of the image is reduced. See the blow image for reference.
Further, you can’t really avoid blurry images for a shutter speed slower than 1/60 – 1/200, depending how stable your hand is and if your subject is moving. Here below scenarios happen only in either aperture priority or shutter speed priority settings.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to take awesome photos at night. Basically you have a few options:
- Using a tripod: this is the easiest and safest way to do it. No matter your setting is “Av” or “Tv”, your camera will help you to choose the other one correctly. And the tripod helps to stablise the camera without causing the images blurred.
- Using flash: this is almost the trickiest technique for photographers. It takes years and years of practices and the effect also varies from camera to camera. First, you can’t avoid red eyes if you are using a small digital camera. Because they are build-in flashes. The closer the flash is to the camera, the easier you’ll see the red-eyes effect, which is the reflection of the vessel in your eyes. And only when the flash is away from the main camera body, the red-eyes effect will be minimised. Second, flash can only illuminate close subjects, usually up to a certain short distance, leaving the background dark. By using “Av” or “Pv” mode the camera can choose the right aperture and speed for you to expose the background (ambient light) correctly. So if you need to take a nice photo with a night scene behind, for example you standing in front of Darling Harbour at night, you’ll still need a tripod to avoid camera-shake-blur.
- Using high ISO: high ISO allows more light in. But the down side of using high ISO is the noisy. I believe you’ve seen lots of photos with the greyish spots. That’s the noise. The better your camera is, the less the noise is.
Well, these are the basic theories. It’s worth 10 books length if I would like to explain everything in details. To make it short, your choices are basically two – get yourself an awesome SRL camera or always take a tripod or maybe at least a unipod with you when you want to take photos at night.
But you do have one short cut which was something I did a lot before. Find a platform, a chair, a table, or anything on which you can put your camera on, use “Tv” or “Av” mode, set the self-timer to 10 seconds, push down the shuuter and then run back in front of your camera and smile ^_^
Ok, buddies, enjoy reading and shooting. Come back to tell me your experience when you have done some practices, ok?
Stay tuned with Kelly Photography :)