Shooting At Night, Part 1 – Digital Photography Tip of the Week

Last week I discussed using s-curves and diagonals in your photos for a more attractive image. This week I will start to discuss night photography, specifically, some of the equipment that will be helpful when shooting at night.

Night photography poses some challenges for the photographer. Unlike during the daylight when light levels are high, shooting in low light requires some different techniques and equipment. A tripod and cable release (some cameras use a wireless release) or self timer are important, though you can get by without a cable release.

Shooting in low light will require a longer shutter speed to properly expose the film (whether it is traditional or digital). Because of this, it is necessary to stabilize your camera on a tripod, a railing, or against a tree. Any motion from the camera during exposure will show up in the photo as ghost images or streaks and will detract from the look of your photo.

I also mentioned using a cable release or infrared remote control. This is for the same reason as supporting the camera on a tripod; to prevent camera shake. A release will allow you to activate the shutter without having to touch the camera thereby reducing camera shake. Most digital SLR’s and some prosumer cameras have the option to use a cable release though not all, and some point and shoot digicams also feature remote release capabilities. If your’s does not, or if you have simply forgotten it at home (something I have done) your next option is to use the self timer on your camera. Using this feature will allow you to press the shutter and then give them camera about 10 seconds to fully come to rest to before starting the exposure to avoid the camera shake that can occur when you press the button. The downside to this is if you are waiting for an event to happen (such as the burst of a firework) timing will be difficult in waiting for the self timer to count down.

Midway Rides at Dusk

Next week I will follow up to this with helpful camera settings and techniques to achieving nice night shots.

The digital photography tip of the week is written by the PCIN Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Chris is a long time photographer and is currently the vice-president of the Niagara Falls Camera Club. You can see more of his photography at his Photo of the Day website.
If you have a tip to send Chris, or a question about digital photography he can address in the newsletter, send it to

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