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5 Top Night Photography Tips: How To Photography Light Trails In Cities & Towns

By combining longer shutter speeds with low light photographers can capture great imagery that's also fun to do.

|  General Photography
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Photo by Joshua Waller


The nights are still rather long at the moment in the UK and with the sun setting so early, now's the perfect time to try your hand at night photography as you don't have to be out that late to capture some cracking images. Plus, if you time it with rush-hour, you can use long exposures to shoot some cracking light trails. 


1. Get The Right Accessories

As we are dealing with longer shutter speeds, a tripod is an essential piece of equipment 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 stabilisation 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.

2. Camera & Lens Options 

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. 

3. Metering & Exposure Time Tips 

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. 



Photo by Joshua Waller


4. Composition Is Key

Consider changing to a portrait orientation to help exaggerate the height of buildings and do take your time when composing your shots at night as it can be harder to see small details through the viewfinder due to the lower light levels. 


5. Panning With Traffic 

Traffic is a popular subject at night as it gives photographers the chance to be particularly creative when combined with a bit of panning. When panning, try to follow the subject with your camera/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.


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NeilSchofield Plus
13 1.6k 1 United Kingdom
22 Jan 2017 8:00AM
In order to get rid of the Orange glow for night shots in an urban environment you could shoot in raw and either change the white balance in your post processing or set it correctly in the camera, unless you are shooting mono that is
Tooma Plus
4 2.2k 3 Scotland
23 Jan 2018 3:32AM
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