Night photography can be a really easy and rewarding experience if done right.

What you will need is the following.

1. A camera with full manual (or at least shutter speed priority.)
2. A tripod, or something sturdy to lean the camera on.
3. The lowest ISO speed you can go. (Not as applicable with film.)

A timed release or remote shutter cable will make your job easier, but it is not absolutely needed. If you don't have one of these, you will need to ensure that your tripod is very stable, preferably at the shortest hight that it can go, or that the surface your camera is sitting on is stable.

One of the issues with taking long exposure shots is noise. The higher the ISO (or the higher the sensitivity of the sensor) the more the grain, and with long exposures this is made even worse. Try it out, take a 30 second exposure at the highest ISO speed your camera can go, and try one at the lowest ISO speed your camera can go, and notice the difference in noise (grain.)
This isn't as applicable to film, as film won't heat up and doesn't suffer the long expsoure grain issues that film suffers. However, high ISO/ASA film will still be very grainy so it is better to get the lower ISO/ASA speed.
The second reason for low ISO speeds is this will allow you to have very long shutter speeds and blur out the movement.

Southbank footbridge at night

Southbank footbridge at night.

Jul 5, 2008, 8:53:57 PM
Canon EOS 40D
EF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 II
Shutter Speed: 30/1 second
F Number: F/10.0
Focal Length: 18 mm
ISO Speed: 100

If you are shooting in manual mode, you will most likely want to experiment with the shutter speeds and apetures, and depending on the amount of light will depend on how long the exposure will need to be.

I found that in my shots I like to have about 15-30 second exposures to really get the colours saturated and any movement blurred out, as shown in the image below called Tetris.

In the above photo of the Southbank footbridge, I used a long 30 second exposure to make the water all smooth and dreamlike instead of choppy and full of agitation. In this photo it meant that the water was no longer a distraction.

Another thing to note is it may be difficult to focus, especially if it is really dark. Having manual focus makes it a lot easier to focus at night, even if you have to take many shots just to get the focus right.

You will find that while practicing you will make many mistakes, this is normal and you will learn from those mistakes and get better.

Keep shooting and learning, I believe one of the biggest tricks of the trade is practice. Tutorials can only show you the start of the path, you have to walk down the path yourself and find your artistic strenghts and work with them, and your artistic weaknesses and improve on them.

And above all, don't give up, and don't get stuck in a rut of doing the same thing over and over again. Learn new techniques and have fun!

Tetris. (Giant ferris wheel at Southbank)

Tetris. (Giant ferris wheel at Southbank)

Jul 5, 2008, 10:35:45 PM
Canon EOS 40D
Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC macro
Shutter Speed: 5/1 second
F Number: F/14.0
Focal Length: 36 mm
ISO Speed: 100

 

    Equipment

    Canon EOS 40D
    Canon EOS ELAN IIe (50e)

    EF-s 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II
    EF 50mm f/1.8
    EF 35-80mm f/4.5-5.6 USM
    M42 80-200mm f/4.5-5.5

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