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Essential Tips for Night Photography

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Night photography can produce amazing images or blurry, noisy photos depending on the skills of the photographer and whether proper night photography settings are used. Thanks to advances in camera technology, today’s smartphones are capable of taking night photos that match the quality of many DSLR cameras. Knowing how to take a night picture requires an understanding of both night photography tips and camera settings. So grab your phone, wait until night falls, and follow the steps outlined below.

Night Photography Settings

Any discussion of night photography for beginners should start with night photography settings. If your camera settings aren’t right, your night photos will be fuzzy, blurry, and full of unwanted camera noise.

Smartphone night photography settings will depend on your phone model and the features it offers. Many phones now offer a night mode, such as the Night Sight setting for the Pixel 3 and 3a. Night mode takes multiple exposures of the same shot and combines the images. While night mode can greatly improve your night photos, it needs to be manually selected. 

Switching to manual gives you control over your night photography settings. As a general rule for how to take a night picture, set the camera to the following settings:

  • Set the aperture as low as possible.
  • Set the shutter speed to remain open for three to ten seconds.
  • Set the ISO to 1600, or as close to 1600 as your camera will allow.

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Night Photography Tips

Knowing how to take a night picture requires more than understanding night photography settings. You have to be willing to play with your camera, experimenting to get just the right effect. Try some of these tips:

  • Use a Tripod: At night, even a slight hand tremor can mean the difference between a great photo and a blurry mess. It’s difficult to keep your hands motionless for ten seconds. Using a portable tripod allows you to keep your camera still during long exposures.
  • Use a Camera App: One of the easier ways to keep your camera shutter open for night photography is to use an app. Manual (iOS) and Manual Camera (Android) both help you fine-tune your night photography settings, including shutter speed and exposure.
  • Play with Your Flash: Try taking night photos with and without your flash to see which produces the better photo. As a camera flash produces harsh, flat light, try covering the flash with a piece of tissue paper to change the lighting effect.
  • Experiment with Motion: A long exposure of moving lights can create spectacular effects. Try taking photos of car lights, the lights of aircraft, or people dancing with glow sticks in the dark. 
  • Work with Silhouettes: Try taking photos of subjects with the light behind them. People in front of brightly lit windows, backlit statues, and similar subjects can produce striking silhouettes. 
  • Don’t Use Zoom: Smartphones use digital zooms, which basically just crop the image as you take the shot, increasing the amount of distorting noise in the final image. Rather than zoom in, get closer to your subject. The photo will look much better. 

Today’s smartphones are able to handle the challenges of night photography, but some, like the Pixel 3 and the iPhone 11 are definitely better equipped for the task. If you enjoy photography, drop by your local GoWireless store to check out the latest innovations on smartphone cameras.