All cats are gray at night, as the proverb says. But that doesn't apply to a camera. With a long exposure time, it can create colourful images even in the darkest environment.
However, anyone who tackles the subject of night photography should be aware that patience as well as perseverance are prerequisites for convincing pictures.
On clear nights, the sky gradually changes its colour from light, medium, and dark blue to deep black, perfect for capturing stunning night scapes.
'Dancer in the Lights' by Timucin TOPRAK
On the other hand, if the sky is overcast, it can appear in all imaginable colours in night photos, depending on which artificial lights the cloud canopy will reflect.
Whether working with long exposure times or just preferring to use the possibilities of Available-Light-Photography, night photography is particularly suitable for overcoming the possibilities of natural vision and thereby achieving unusual shots.
But at this point we have to say that taking photos at night is also a contemplative experience.
In this article I present some basic tips for night photography in cities, accompanied by selected images from the 1x photo gallery.
IN THE DAWN
Everyone knows the blue hour, the period between sunset and the last glimmer of daylight before it gets dark. In the morning, the blue hour ends with the rising of the sun.
In the dusk very beautiful mixed light situations occur when the motif includes artificial light sources.
THE DARK NIGHT
After dawn, the night offers a variety of appealing subjects and light sources that can be used.
'Rivero' by Jose C. Lobato
But night photos don't always have to be filled with the glamour of city lights. It's also worth trying dark, eerie scenes with less light.
'Night watch' by Tim Corbeel
In night photography, it is possible to take advantage of a variety of available light effects.
For example, reflections of multi-coloured lights in glass and water surfaces or where the clouds are reflecting the colourful light scenery of a city.
Very interesting pictures can be taken when the light sources themselves become the motif. Light sources glow like little stars in the picture by closing the aperture as far as possible.
'Vernazza' by Ales Farcnik
And finally, remember moving light sources. Moving vehicle lights can be recorded as light trails by using long exposure times.
These can add dynamics to a photograph or can become the primary subject of the photograph.
'Shanghai at Night' by Clemens Geiger
Multicoloured illuminated fairgrounds or also celebrative fireworks are also wonderful photo motifs at the night.
Higher ISO values are recommendable, but the higher the ISO value, the more unwanted noise becomes noticeable due to the signal amplification.
Perfectly well suited are cameras that allow setting a high ISO value (at least above 1500) with as little noise as possible.
High ISO values of at least 2400 or 3200 at 1.8 or 1.4 apertures and, if the camera allows it, even up to 8000 ISO are not exceptional.
It is recommendable to adjust the white balance manually. There are no rules for this, it depends on what mood the photo should express. It depends on whether a cooler or warmer tone is desired usually from 3000 Kelvin on the cooler side up to about 8000 Kelvin on the warmer side.
It is very important to take pictures at night in raw mode, this allows to adjust the white balance in the image processing to a certain degree.
Quick checklist for night photography
Use tripod and self-timer or remote shutter release
Switch off camera and lens stabilizers
Set ISO value according to the situation and keep the aperture rather closed
Observe histogram (light and dark values)
Tend to use smaller focal lengths and a avoid tele lens
In case of focus problems zoom in in the live view and focus manually
Use manual white balance
Don't forget a flash light to brighten up the foreground if necessary
Night photography is an excellent way to overcome the limits of natural vision and to create exceptional photographs.
In the end, the combination of aperture setting and exposure time is the secret to taking amazing night scenes.
However, the right choice of combination always depends on the individual situation and one's own taste regarding the motif.