Photography at night can be both challenging and satisfying. Here’s a few tips to help make attempting night photography a little more successful.
- Camera support. Since much of night photography relies on longer exposure times, a tripod or similar support is where to start. Make sure the tripod is sized for the camera and lens it will be supporting. You don’t want to put a large camera and lens on a wimpy tripod and expect success.
- Turn off image stabilization or vibration reduction. If you are on a tripod, you won’t likely need this feature.
- Keep your lenses to wide-angle. That is less than a 50mm lens. Something like a 16-35mm or 10-22mm lens will work great.
- Don’t forget to use a lens hood. This will help prevent stray light from bouncing around the front of your lens and cause lens flare.
- Don’t be afraid of higher ISOs at night. This will help keep the exposures shorter and prevent star trails.
- You may have to turn auto-focus off. If there isn’t something to focus on, you may have to manually focus. Using the wider angle lenses will make this a little more forgiving.
- Set your white balance to “Daylight”. This will prevent the color from shifting.
- Scout the location in the daylight. This will help once the darkness falls in just getting around. Also scouting out the location at night will help you determine how much light pollution is visible. Typically the farther away from a city, the less light pollution you will have. You can also use Darksky.org
- Use a remote release for each shot. This prevents camera shake and allows you to explore using the “Bulb” setting by using the lock on the remote release.
- Use sites like http://www.stellarium.org/ to see where various celestial objects will be.
- Bring extra fully-charged batteries. Long exposures can eat through batteries quickly. Having spares will allow you to keep shooting into the night.
- You can light up objects in the foreground with either a flashlight or manually triggering a hotshoe flash. This will “paint” the objects into the photo.
- Last but not least, stay in manual mode and continually review and tweak the exposure.
Practice practice practice. The more familiar you become with your camera, the less frustration you will have in the dark changing the settings. I recommend a red flashlight to help you get around and make camera adjustments. The red light won’t affect your night vision like a white flashlight can.