Night Photography Tips

night photography
Night photography is fun and endlessly fascinating - By Circa24

As winter rolls into town and the heavy coats come out of the closet, we also start getting into the best time of year for night photography. The stores area all still open at sunset, all the lights are on, and there’s plenty of rush hour traffic for light streaks. Winter is the best time to get some great nighttime shots and still be home in time for dinner.


Besides your camera, the key piece of equipment you’ll need will be a tripod. You’ll want one that’s light weight, sturdy, and fast to setup and take down.

Another factor to consider for tripods is the weight rating which, on many models, is a big, fat lie. You’ll want at least a 10 pound weight rating if you’re shooting a full size DSLR. No, your camera and lens combo doesn’t weigh nearly that much, but start getting close to the upper limit of the weight rating and the legs will start to bow and the slightest whiff of a breeze will make your tripod shake.

If you’re going with a brand name, I’d suggest a model like the Manfrotto 190XPROB 3 with a ball head. Weighing in at around 4 pounds, it’s easy to carry and fast to set up.


The best night shots happen just before it’s completely dark, while there is still enough light left in the sky to keep the background from being completely black and the shutter speeds slow enough to get all the great streaking effects and color aberrations that make night photography really fun.


As much as I love my Canon 7D, and as great as the pictures are in daylight, the internal computer does not like night photography. It tries everything I don’t want it to do like correcting the white balance, averaging the exposure across the scene, and trying to optimize the contrast.

Night photography is one of the times I turn off automatic everything and work almost exclusively in manual. Strange things start happening to images with really long shutter times, so don’t be afraid to experiment. You can even get different results on the same scene with the exact same exposure settings.

Don’t Forget Your Flash

Bring your external flash, if you have one. Use it to combine a long exposure night shot with some foreground lighting, the effect can be quite attractive when done right.