Tutorials Frames Advices

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Take a Shot: Night City Lights

This article brings you some advices, how to make good night city photo.

Shooting a cityscape during day isn’t the same thing shooting the same scene at night. Building lights, neon glow signs, lights from passing cars and street lamps – all this can create magical scenes. But this scenes are always high contrast scenes and this aspect requires certain shooting techniques.

Take a look at your city at night. These tips and techniques will help you to capture not only the scene you see in your camera’s viewfinder, but also the exciting feeling of the original experience. After all, if a photo conveys a feeling or an emotion, it’s a successful picture.

If you shoot film, I recommend using daylight-balanced film. For after-sunset shots with my digital camera, I set my ISO to 400 and use a tripod to steady my camera during long exposures. To determine the correct exposure, I set my camera to. I often use Exposure Compensation set to –1 – 1,5 because the dark areas of a scene can fool a camera’s exposure meter into “thinking” that the scene is actually darker than it actually is – resulting in the bright lights being overexposed.

High-end digital cameras have a noise reduction feature that removes some of the grain associated with long shutter speeds on digital cameras. (Noise in a digital image isn’t equivalent to grain in a film picture.)

When I plan on taking nighttime pictures in a city, I scope out the city during the day for scenes that may make nice nighttime scenes. Spending some time during the day helps me become familiar with the city. It also lets me pick safe shooting locations such as curbs or traffic islands in roadways.

I’d like to add an important safety note here: Follow your mother’s advice. Always wear white at night. You want passing cars, bicycles, and skateboarders and so on to see you when you are shooting.

A good time to take nighttime pictures is actually not at night. If you shoot shortly after the sun sets, you’ll get some skylight in your pictures. Skylight does two things. One, it softly illuminates the buildings so you don’t have just bright lights in your pictures. Two, it adds a soft glow to the sky so you don’t have a totally black sky in your pictures, as is the case when you shoot well after night fall
Notice that there are no white lights in the picture – which would have been created by cars heading toward the camera. That is no accident. I usually wait until no cars are coming toward me – because I only wanted red lights in the scene.

Speaking of streaking, look at how the bright red and yellow lights in your scene stop (or start) in the middle of the scene. It looks rather strange, don’t you think? My point: for successful streaking photos, most of the lights should streak through the entire frame. Again, to get that kind of result, you need to have patience, to take a lot of pictures – and to watch the lights.

So the next time you are in a city, remember: Nighttime is the right time for fun – and creative – pictures. And, please remember to wear white at night to be safe!

This article is compilation of Rick Sammon guide to a night photography published at
Adorama's catalog.

P.S. But what to do, if it's rainy outdoors? Just take a good camera bag and drive in the club. There you always can find awesome babes which will be posing for you for free. How to shot them in action is the next material, I'm gonna compilate.

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