Night photos can take on a somewhat magical quality you may find lacking in normal
daytime photography. Amazing night pictures certainly can attract attention. As the
sun goes down, however, it becomes harder to capture images without the proper
equipment and techniques.
When your digital camera receives less light, it cannot absorb the surroundings as
well in the resulting photographs. Some pictures may turn out too dark. Others can
be too blurry. Your camera requires more time to absorb enough light to create an
effective picture, so any shaking of the device will result in photographs lacking
To compensate for the lack of lighting, here are several things you can do with most
middle and high-end digital cameras to get the results you need.
You may think that professional photographers take a large amount of time to set
up a shot, perform complex calculations, talk about all sorts of topics such as
f-stops, shoot one photograph that accurately represents their interpretation of a
particular scene, and then leave.
While most of this may be true, the last part - only taking one photo - is far from
it. Many, if not most, professional photographers commonly take a multitude of shots
for every subject! Traditional photographers can go through rolls and rolls of film
on a single shoot, and digital photographers may use gigabytes of memory.
Professionals know that no matter how well everything has been factored in when
setting up a shot, 'stuff happens'. It is better to take time shooting a particular
subject ten times and get one outstanding photograph than to take one or two photos
that turn out blurry or dull.
Most photographers perform a trick called bracketing, where they intentionally
adjust their camera settings in small increments in case their calculations were not
Heed this advice when taking photographs at night. If you have a particular subject
you want to reproduce in digital form, don't rely on taking 'the one perfect shot',
but take several photographs in case problems occur with the lighting, or lack
Remember, you're shooting digitally, which means you can later throw out all the bad
photos in your camera's virtual 'trash can', and no one ever needs to know! I can't
tell you how many times I've done this, especially when taking late-night shots of
the Chicago cityscape in places I couldn't bring a tripod. I may shoot hundreds of
shots and only keep a few dozen.
If your digital camera has a special nighttime mode, study your manual and learn
how to enable this feature. Perhaps your camera has a button or dial next to a
graphic of a half-moon to signify this setting. This works well for some late-night
Forget about using the flash unless you purchase a high-quality accessory flash
unit. Flash shoots a burst of light out of your camera and works most effectively
when your subject is within a few feet. If your subject is a long way away, your
small flash unit will never reach it effectively.
Nighttime photography requires a little extra work out of you and your digital
camera. To prevent against mistakes and increase the chance of a spectacular shot,
it may be necessary to take the same picture multiple times, adjusting your camera
settings slightly to help ensure at least one picture will come out well. The
digital camera manual must be studied, as many high-end cameras contain automatic
features to help take better photos. And, a natural tendency most people have to use
flash must be avoided. By heeding this advice, you can learn to take spectacular
Andrew Malek is the owner of the MalekTips computer and technology help site at www.malektips.com.
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