As the sun's still setting before most of us get home from work, now is the perfect time to have a go at night photography. Various types of photography are possible when the nights begin to draw in. Here's our guide to what you can do and what kit you'll need to do it.
Photo by David Pritchard
Aside from your camera, a tripod is the single most essential item in night time photography, when low shutter speeds are in use as hand-held photography is virtually impossible. It's a good idea to find a model that's lightweight and compact enough to carry around with ease.
When it comes to lenses, wide angle is often the way to go - the faster the better. An aperture of at least f/2.8 throughout the entire focal length is recommended as available light will be at a minimum.
Filters, Lens Hoods And Rain Sleeves
A filter is not essential, however a UV filter can be used to protect your lens from the elements. In harsh weather conditions a lens hood can protect the front of your lens from rain while a rain sleeve will protect your camera body.
An additional flash is a useful tool when working outdoors at night, and it's important to find one that's suited to your particular camera. Most flash guns will fit most cameras, but unless it's dedicated it won't work with the camera auto settings and could result in an incorrect exposure.
Night photography can be tricky and your camera's built-in metering system may not be accurate enough to get the correct exposure, which is where a light meter will be useful. One that has an illuminated LCD would be best as it'll make viewing easier in low light. Various brands create light meters who have various models which are lightweight, small in design and feature LCD displays.
Waterproof and warm clothing is essential if you are going to be outdoors during winter for long periods. A waterproof jacket with a hood is ideal. Do wear layers instead of one thick jacket as you can always add or remove items if hot/cold. Wearing a good pair of walking boots and gloves is also a good idea.
Remote Shutter Release
Also consider adding a Remote shutter release to your kit. A remote control will activate the shutter release without any need for contact with the camera, eliminating the risk of blur caused by camera movement. Do check that the remote release is compatible with your camera.
Your camera's self-timer can also be used as an alternative, preventing the need for contact at the time of the shutter release.
A weatherproof camera bag will keep your equipment dry and well protected from the elements, and backpacks are generally easier to carry and more comfortable than any other type of bag. Take a look at our review section to find a bag that's suitable for you.
Depending on where you are planning to go to carry out your photography, a torch might be good idea as some areas will not have the benefit of street lighting. For those who prefer to keep their hands free consider packing a head torch.
If you are going to be outdoors for a while, a flask of hot tea or coffee may be a good idea.
Photo by David Clapp
What To Photograph:
Buildings At Night
Shooting buildings at night can create a very different feel from the way they would look during daylight. Cityscapes are always a good choice, as are churches. Useful equipment for this type of photograph includes: Tripod, flashgun, wide lenses, light meter, torch and filters. Click the following links for tips on shooting buildings at night:
Moving Cars And Fairground Rides
Moving cars and fairground rides are easy to find and can create some stunning streams of lights and patterns when done after dark. Experiment with different shutter speeds to see what effects can be created.
Useful equipment includes: Tripod, monopod, flashgun, light meter, shutter remote release and warm clothing.
Moon And Moonlight
Landscapes need not stop when then sun goes down. Try using the moon as a source of light to produce some dramatic as well as eerie effects. Click here to see the ePHOTOzine guide to photographing the moon. Useful equipment includes: Tripod, telephoto lenses and warm clothing.
Outdoor portaits at night may be slightly more tricky than portraits during the day, but the results can be much more effective. Useful equipment includes: Tripod, light meter, flashgun and warm clothing.
A whole new world of wildlife emerges after dark. Disguise yourself in a hide and see what turns up! Useful equipment includes: Tripod, camera trigger, flashgun, hide, warm clothing and a flask.
Even though it takes a while, the effort is worth it as the effects captured can be amazing. For more tips, take a look at these tutorials: Photographing star trails part one and two.
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