Friday, 3 August 2012

Night Photography

As photographers, you might have noticed that, the same landscape changes in appearance when morning light changes to noon light and then to evening light. If photographed, the same scene will look much different under the various lighting conditions. But it is nothing when compared to shooting the same scene at night.

night photography
Photo By Luke Andrew Scowen 2009

Although Photographing at night is a bit tricky, finding interesting low light subjects is actually pretty easy. Even ordinary things that we ignore during daytime come alive with an interesting feel after dark. Neon lights, walk lights, street lamps, car headlights, decorative lighting etc. all make interesting subjects.

The critical element when it comes to night photography is the amount of ambient light or available light at any given scene. Just as how photographers pay attention to the angle and position of the sun while shooting outdoors during daytime, night time photographers should pay attention to the moon, its angle and brightness. In its monthly cycle of 29.5 day duration; the moon changes in shape and also in brightness. A full moon could drastically reduce the required exposure time needed for a particular shot. While a low laying moon could create long shadows and an over head moon could create harsh, downward shadows. In order to excel in night time photography a photographer should choose the ideal day of the month where in there is a balance between moonlight and artificial lights in the scene to get the perfect exposure.

night photography
Photo By Kuzeytac

Night offers an inky black or softly coloured backdrop depending on the degree of light pollution. In real world there is nothing called pitch dark, there is always some light or the other, in photographic sense it is called light contamination. It is how light is introduced into the darkness that creates one feeling or the other. It could create suspense, fear and many other feelings in the mind of the viewer. Shadows could also be brought into play, suggesting many things. One thing to remember when using a light meter during night is that they tend to give an exposure to produce mid grey; make sure your histogram stays below centre line accurately depicting darkness.

Ideal Subjects for Night Photography

  •     Fireworks
  •     Star trails
  •     Car headlights, long exposure – motion capture
  •     Neon lights
  •     Try zooming
  •     Moonlit Landscape and buildings
  •     Night portraits (also try to include the moon in the shot)
  •     Photograph the Moon
  •     Try out light painting

Must haves for Night Photography

  •     A sturdy tripod
  •     Cable / Remote shutter release
  •     Fast lenses could make focusing easier and gives a brighter viewfinder.

In the next article we will discuss about Photography - Types of Light - Seasonal Quality of Light

Related Reading

  1. Evening Light
  2. Noon Light
  3. Morning Light
  4. Day Light
  5. Natural Light