How To Photograph In Low Light And Night?

Many would have thought that shooting in low light, long exposure and in the night are very difficult to master. There are a few challenges to overcome though. It takes some technical know-how, loads of practice, loads of time out there to get that perfect camera setting for a perfect night shot. Once you have finally mastered the techniques and get the hang of it, night photography can be quite addictive. 

Images captured with this technique during that time of the day are atmospheric and vibrant, in particularly cityscape. 

Here are a few sceneries that I have shot at different locations.

Low light, long exposure and night photography are incredibly interesting to learn. 

Singapore - 

Blue hour is the best time to capture city lights. It is dramatic and vibrant, drawing out all the different lights sources. 

Tips

  • Select Aperture Priority to control your depth of field. In general In general, you won't be capturing movement but mostly landscape. 
  • Keep the ISO low to avoid noise in the picture. 
  • Set a small aperture (large number) to ensure that the background and foreground of the landscape are in focus. 
  • Tripod is a must for low light and night photography to achieve a sharp and crisp image. 

Images captured with this technique during that time of the day are atmospheric and vibrant, in particularly cityscape. 

Tanjung Aru Beach, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo - 

Sunset and silhouette are perfect combination to shoot at this time of the day. 

Move around to find that composition and positioning for lighting. In this scene, there are sufficient light to show viewers some of the interesting elements around the beach. For example, those ripples on the sand and a tiny pool of water with reflection from the blue sky. 

Chitwan National Park, central Nepal in autumn - 

Morning blue hour.

I spend a lot of time on rivers and this is my favourite time of the morning. The sun is about to rise with thick fog covered landscape. The camera would capture all sources of lights in this situation. This moment of blue may just turn to orange in a split second.  The white balance was set to auto. That would also maintain the blue tint for a bit longer while I snapped a few shots on a moving boat to get the composition that I like. Finally, I have got the reflection of the man into my composition which makes this image much more interesting.

Central Mongolia in summer - 

Experimenting with different light source is interesting for low light photography. 

In this picture, the source of light is from the pavement light that leads to those gers (Mongolian tents) and also the light that shines out from the ger which the man is seated. It was about half hour after sunset. The storm cloud is covering part of the blue sky. The camera was able to capture that source of natural light too. This creates a stunning scene of wilderness with tents under some stars.

Tashichhoedzong, Thimphu Bhutan in spring - 

Photographing low light without tripod.

I was given a last minute permission to photograph within the compound of the dzong (fortress) at blue hour. I was not prepared with a tripod. Therefore I had to increase the ISO to 1250 and use a wider aperture of f/4 to get this shot. Also checked that the vibration reduction on my lens is switched on. My body is my tripod. This means I have to hold both my elbows in, stand still, control my breathing when I press and release the camera shutter to minimise shake. 

Noise is still present in the image even though most modern DSLR these days does not create much noise even at ISO 2000. Most cameras would also have a noise reduction setting, which is an added benefit to reduce visibility of noise in the picture. 

Singapore -  

Composing with colours gives your image a certain kind of mood. 

Using the blue soft light created by the musical light show, it formed a background to draw out that cluster of people on the right. It looked like a movie scene. The blue background draws out the red dress too. 

Ende, Flores Indonesia - 

Colour of light changes to red at either sunset or sunrise. This gives a warm feeling. 

Sometimes, such effect can also be enhanced with filters. Silhouette is best when the subject is recognisable. In this photo, there are a few children at a basketball court. One is giving a "love you" hand sign.

Creativity is endless for low light and night photography. 

To learn more on how to photograph in low light and night, join my photography workshop in Singapore or any one of my photography expeditions to master this technique.

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