By combining longer shutter speeds with low light photographers can capture great imagery that's also fun to do. Here's a selection of images I took in the city of Antwerp Belgium and a few tips on how they were captured.
As we are dealing with longer shutter speeds, a tripod is an essential tool if we want our images to be sharp. Do remember that traffic can cause a small amount of movement and don't forget to turn off the image stabilization function as when using longer exposure times and a tripod, this function can actually cause shake which will result in a blurry image. A cable or wireless (IR) remote is useful but you can also use your camera's self-timer to start the exposure to reduce shake.
The type of camera you use isn't all that important as it's your own creativity that'll create a good image. However, a DSLR or other type of camera that offers manual control will make the task easier.
The type of lenses you use for night photography will change depending on what you want to capture. If you like pictures of street views, use a wide-angle lens, however if you want to focus on just parts / details of the street use a zoom lens between 28 - 200mm. Having said that, you'll probably find a wide-angle lens to be most useful.
Exposure times aren't set in stone and it's worth trying different shutters speeds. Shooting with spot metering can help exposure levels and I find working in manual tends to produce better results. If you have the time, photograph the same scene with various exposure times and look through them to see which has produced the best results.
In the right shot I changed to a portrait orientation to help exaggerate the height of the building. Take your time when composing your shots at night as I found it harder to see small details through the viewfinder due to the lower light levels.
The left shot is of the Royal Museum of Fine Art which uses purple lights in the evening and the pool of water in front adds an extra level of interest to the shot.
Traffic is a popular subject at night and as the top shot demonstrates, it gives photographers the chance to be particularly creative when combined with a bit of panning.
When I pan, I follow the subject with my camera and eye then hit the shutter button in the middle of the pan and continue the smooth movement through to the other side. It's similar to swinging a baseball bat, hitting the ball at the middle of the swing and following through.
Although you can pan hand-held a tripod can be very useful when panning at night as the low light levels mean you can experiment with slower shutter speeds. If you want a little more of the shot to be sharp you can add a 'pop' of flash to freeze the movement of your subject.
Article and images by Edwin Brosens - www.edwinbrosens.com