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7 Night Photography Tips

By @ijyoyo | August 09 2023 | Envision

Looking to start taking photos at night? Perfect, you’re in the right place! Night photography can be fun but difficult the first few times. Here are some tips for better photography photos at night.

Also Read:
Night Photography Tips and Techniques
Editing Night Photos in Lightroom
Tripods for Night Photography
Best Lenses for Night Photography

1. Use a Tripod

Using a tripod is important for stabilizing your photograph. When you are shooting at night you won't have as much light as possible without noise. This will mean you need to stabilize your camera to get a lower shutter speed. This way you can have well exposed images

Tripod can be used with both iPhones, DSLRs and Mirrorless Cameras. For DSLR cameras most use Aluminum or Carbon fiber. Neewer Creates a great tripod you can use during your night photography here.

Tripods are essential for light painting, timelapses and great exposure all around. Some features of tripod also include getting different positions that you normally would not be able to hold.

2. Shoot in RAW

If your camera allows it, choose to shoot in RAW. Shooting in RAW can allow you to post-process your night photography images with higher exposure compensation and the ability to reduce high noisy images.

During the night you will probably need to bump your ISO. Depending on the lighting situations you may have high amounts of noise. Shooting RAW will allow you to bring this down in post production in an editing software like photoshop, luminar or lightroom.

Blue hour in blue-hour-charoltte-nc

3. Use Manual Focus

Ditch manual focus! Manual focus is the best way to go sometimes during night photography. Oftentimes cameras are only able to focus at certain ISO and EV levels. This can drop off fast and may not always be accurate. Although cameras are getting better Manual focus is the way to go.

Once you turn on Manual focus you can focus on your subject in a few ways. One way is through focusing on the brightest point of your scene. Another way is using a flashlight to focus beforehand and manual focusing and then turning the flashlight off. Some lenses too include focusing that you can focus on. One last way is to manual focus and use the camera LCD zoom screen.

  • Focus on brightest point
  • Use a Flashlight to expose the area of focus
  • Use focus ring and focus guide on camera
  • Manual Focus and zoom in on the LCD screen
  • 3. Stack Photographs/ Bracket Exposures

    If you want more highlights and shadows in your image you can bracket your photos. This is great for non-moving subjects, or subjects you can shoot instantaneously. Bracketing exposures features are in some camera otherwise it is the combination of multiple exposures. This creates a high dynamic range image depending on how far you “bracket” the different exposures.

    Stacking photographs is a great way to get focus through the image and gain higher dynamic range. One way to think about it is three different exposures, one underexposed image that captures the details in the brightest parts of the image, one is the normal exposure that may have shadow and highlights, and one that exposes for the shadows. These combined create a great amount of dynamic range.

    A good rule of thumb is to use 3 different exposures. One underexposed, one normally exposed, and one overexposed. Once you take these images you can take it into editing programs such as photoshop, lightroom, HDR apps.

    4. Check the Histogram

    The histogram should be your best friend as a photographer! The histogram is on most modern cameras and allows you to see the distribution of light from the darkest part of your images to the lightest part of the image. The histogram is a scale from 0 to 255 bits of color. During the night the histogram will tend to skew to the left. This means it is under exposed -however it makes sense since it is at night.

    Learn about clipping during the night. Sometimes some areas of your image may be too dark to contain any details in them. Contrasting that, looking at an image you took of light trails may also skew to the right that tells you that you are overexposing the highlights. The histogram can save your photos at night! If it’s too dark try different settings.

    person standing at night with histogram

    5. Learn Bulb Mode

    Bulb mode is usually a setting or a mode on your camera with the “B” letter. Bulb mode allows you to take photographs beyond your cameras max shutter speed for example “30, 30 seconds. Bulb mode will allow you to take long exposure photographs for stairs, stair trails, light painting and more.

    Bulb mode photographs can range from 45 second exposures to 4 minute exposures. The main point of bulb mode is to go above and beyond 30 seconds. One issue however with bulb mode is you need to hold the camera down during the entire time. This means that the stability of your image will likely create blur, thus an external remote

    Astrophotography photo

    6. Use an external remote

    Using external remotes can be such a help for reducing blur and controlling your camera without touching it. When you are creating photos during the night you want to get photos that are well exposed and not blurry. External remotes are the solutions to this.

    External remotes are popular for portrait photography, timelapses, astrophotography and used for intervalometers. Some cameras include these features within the camera bodies. Others provide mobile apps that allow you to control your camera by your phone.

    person sitting over busy highway

    7. Know Your Gear

    An important part to any photography venture is knowing your gear. Know it from the front to the back. This will reduce fidgeting in the dark as much as possible. Figure out how well your camera does in lowlight and test it’s limits.

    Look at the lens you are shooting on. Fast lenses are the best for night photography. Focal length may range depending on the type of photography from astrophotography, , landscape photographer and portrait photography. Fast lenses have faster apertures ranging from 1.4 to 2.8. These lenses will allow you to catch more light into your camera that will prevent you from gaining noise and allow you to focus at night. The best lens for night photography have lower apertures.

    Lenses for star photography may include wide focal lengths with low apertures ranges so you can get the full range of stars in images. Lenses for street photography may include the 50mm f1.8, 85mm f1.4.

    Telephoto Lens

    What are some night photography subjects?

    Cityscapes- CityScapes are my favorite type of photos. Setup your tripod at a great location of the city or over a highway with lots of lights. You will be able to capture some great well exposed images with everything you’ve learned

    Ijyoyo sitting on ledge at night in Milwaukee Star Trails- Star trails are super fun! Although it may take some learning take multiple photographs of the stars at one position. This may take a few hours but it is very worth it in the end. Search other articles for Star Trail to get the best photos. Star Trail Photography

    FireWorks- Fireworks happen at night! Learn how to get real bright and vibrant photographs with fireworks. Try something different as well, use a subject with your fireworks and get creative!

    Exporting your Night photography photos

    You want the best quality in your night photography photos. Before you export make sure that you have done your best to reduce noise in the image. Although this can create a style , it can usually be reduced in software. Try not to lose too much sharpness while denoising.

    You can reduce noise without affecting the edges of images by using the ALT key and reduce noise. Lightroom noise reduction slider

    The next step is exporting at the full resolution out of your camera. It doesn’t matter what file format if you are planning on sending it through social media. However you want to make sure and test how the darkest parts of the image will look like across screens. Many photos may be too dark for social media. Some images on instagram lower the quality of the images so you want to make sure the details in the blacks are still there as much as possible.

    Check your histogram again and adjust for any clippers of highlights or shadows. Clipping is where the highlights or shadows lose all the detail in the image when exporting. This relates to shooting RAW again. You will have the ability to bring back that detail by lowering the highlights and bringing up the shadows. This is dependent on how well you did in camera. Light the Hoan, lightroom editing

    Zoom in on your image through the image and if you have multiple images find the sharpest image with the best lighting that affects the composition.


    Night photography can be super fun and exciting so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get pro photos the first few times. As you go out and explore your city and the country more you will eventually develop night photography skills to shoot in any conditions and maybe even in pitch dark!

    Everyday is a possibility for new night photography photos so don’t be afraid to get out there! Also make sure to stay safe and aware of your surroundings during the night, bring a buddy and have fun!

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