Night Photography – Shooting images at Night in low light

Night Photography – Shooting images at Night in low light

Its Christmas time and if you are like me you want to get out at night and get some images of the lights this time of year. I did some research to help me get better at shooting Night Photography and I found some great info I wanted to share.

Use long exposures (time exposure). This makes sure you get enough light into the camera. You will need a camera where you can control aperture, ISO, and shutter speeds. You will also need to ALWAYS use a tripod when shooting at night for stabilization.


Tripod! Don't forget the Tripod! :)

Set camera to Manual Mode (M) - and don't forget to turn off stabalization (VR).

ISO: Unless you are shooting night time sports, use a slower film speed. This will reduce the grain visible in your images and produce a much clearer image.

Aperture: Lower the aperture the more light gets in the lighter the image, the higher the aperture the darker the image. So you will want to use a lower aperture.

Shutter speed: Test different shutter speeds. Maybe try 10 seconds and go up or down from there, depending on the results you want. It takes some experimentation.

Remote Release: Remote release is the most preferred method of shutter release for night photography.

Use your Camera Light Meter Point your camera at the darkest area, to get a correct reading. It may say that you need a flash, or if you have a SLR, you may see the metering bar showing you how much underexposed your image will be at your current settings.

Even though most of the time you will want to keep your meter reading in the center, there are times you will need to deliberately overexpose or underexpose your images slightly. Sometimes this is for artistic effect but usually it is because you are shooting in conditions that can confuse the meter.

Examples of times to overexpose

•Subject is very dark in comparison to background


•On a bright day if your subject is in shadow

Examples of times to underexpose

•Subject is very light in comparison to background

•To achieve a silhouette effect

•On a overcast day to increase color saturation

Trick/Tip: Try zooming in and out while camera exposes, you will get a mix of sharpness in the center of the image and blur at the edges, creating action and movement.

© Zenpix ( Help)

Night Photography – Shooting Video in Low Light – How to reduce Noise

Here are the four main rules to remember while videotaping in low lights at night.

1)Never go higher than ISO speed 1600 or image gets really noisy.

2)Keep shutter speed between 1/30 – 1/50. If you shoot with higher shutter speeds some lights will start to flicker.

3)Set Aperture between F1.2 – F5.6

4)Take contrast completely down or image will be darker than suppose to be.

With these four rules you should get good results.

It’s all about the Lens. Lens with aperture 5.6 is much darker than lens with aperture of 2.8. Also, Remember to go where there are plenty of lights. No lights = very noisy image.

If you have any tips, corrections, or other helpful info on night photography please let me know. Thanks for Looking!

Your article must be written in English

December 13, 2012


to Pratik2440new: I can not be quite agree with you. I have some bunch of images in my PF that have been done with long exposures and bright light sources just in front of lens. I never heard that a halogen lamp can damage sensor, as you wrote. As for 'hot pixels' you mentioned, they can be removed easily by using 'noise supression' option (when shooting) or at the post-processing stage.

Here is an example of 30 seconds exposure (and my sensor is still alive :-) ):

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December 13, 2012


Thanks so much Igor, I really respect your advice! :)

December 13, 2012


No, Susan. I never made video, so have no idea how to shoot it :) I ment just photo, your section 'Setup...' where you wrote ...the higher the aperture the darker the image. So you will want to use a lower aperture.

Anyway, you have initiated an interesting discussin, so your blog is really nice and useful. I don't think you confused someone...


December 13, 2012


Thanks Igordabari. I agree wth you on the value f8-f11 for photographs. Loved reading your blog.

The second half of my blog was only for shooting Video...My recommendation for f2.8 - f5.6 was for just video, same with shutter speeds of 30-50 just for video. Or are you saying f8 - f11 is better for video?

Thanks so much for any advice and recommendations. Sorry if I confused anyone for putting video and photos in same blog.

December 13, 2012


That's like my checklist for night photography too. I don't know about apertures though. Sometimes a lower aperture gives the problems Igordabari mentioned and sometimes it just works fine.

And an important thing you might want to add: One should not try very long exposures with the full moon at night or powerful halogen lights close by. If your aperture is wide open and you're trying a really long bulb exposure or even a 30s exposure, it can over heat certain spots and damage the sensor elements and cause those white pixel spots. It has happened with me. Never take the risk with costly equipment. For >30s, better to have no direct source of light close by.

December 13, 2012


Thank you Susan, you and Igordabari have given me a inspiration to try night photography

December 13, 2012


Nice blog, thanks for the tips but I disagree with you at 1 point. Namely, one should keep aperture value f/8...f/11. Then, due to difraction all bright light sources will transform to nice looking 'stars' with rays arounf them. Car lights become yellow and red trails. Also chromatic aberrations will decrease. Given that one uses tripod long exposures like 10, 30 or even 60 seconds are of no harm.

ALso consider a trick for noise supression which is described HERE.

December 13, 2012


Useful blog, thanks!

December 12, 2012


Great blog.

December 12, 2012


Good tips. Thanks for writing!

December 12, 2012



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Photo credits: Youra Demshin, Zenpix.