When it gets dark, don’t put the camera away – there is a whole other world of photo opportunities opening up for you. Here are a few quick tips for getting better night photos.
This is aimed at basic compact cameras and phone cameras which typically don’t have alot of control over the settings.
You really need a tripod or some way of stabilising your camera, because of the low light you will be using long shutter speeds and without one you will just end up with blurry shots.
If you have spare batteries for your camera make sure you bring them as a combination of the cold and the need to check your work as you go means you can chew up your battery life.
If you don’t have manual controls start by choosing the ‘night mode’ on your camera – this turns off the flash and allows your camera to choose longer shutter speed for you.
If you do have some degree of control then just start to play with what works, in general if you are looking at your camera meter you will want to have your meter reading as ‘underexposed’ as the night scenes are going to naturally be darker. You could try to set your camera to a “P” mode and shift the exposure compensation down 2 stops.
The other really important setting is to use the self timer feature – this gives you time to press the button and stop any camera movement before the shutter actually opens.
While you are taking these longer exposure shots you can also play with light painting – just grab a torch and ‘paint’ away on the objects you want to illuminate or accentuate. This can take some trial and error but you’ll have great fun doing it.
It can be difficult to focus at night if you only have an auto focus function – if your camera is having difficulty try finding a distant but bright object, focus by half pressing your shutter on that then recompose before fully pressing the shutter.
Using your camera at night can be a bit of a technical challenge at first, but persistence pays off and can be a whole lot of fun. Always remember to stay safe, keep a torch close at hand and stay warm and dry.