The Art of Photography at Night

By PhotoBox 3 years ago1 Comment
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City night scene

During the winter months, natural light is generally in short supply day-to-day, but that needn’t mean that you pack your camera away until the summer months. In fact, photos taken at night have their own captivating look about them!

Night time photography offers a little bit of mystery, and the chance to capture moments that might otherwise, quite literally, be kept in the dark. We’ve come up with some simple night time photography tips, as well as a selection of our favourite photos…


Bill FitzGibbons - light rails

Bill Fitz-Gibbons

Avoid flash, which requires light to bounce off a subject. Instead, work with the light you have – particularly for city shots. Neon lights and moving traffic can look particularly striking.


Rick Berk

Rick Berk

If you usually use preset settings on your camera, now is the time to get to know the manual button, which will give you more control over your photos.

Aperture and shutter speed are the keys to taking a great night time shot – aperture is the size of the lens opening; use large apertures to let in as much light as possible. Shutter speed will control how long the shutter stays open; the longer it’s open, the more light that enters the camera, which allows the details in your photo to be captured.

A good way to find out the best night time setting is to start off with an ISO value of around 800, a shutter speed of around 30 seconds and a wide apeture – f/4 for example. By doing a test shot, you’ll be able to adjust the settings accordingly.


Claudia O'Grady

Claudia O’Grady Photography

We already know there’s going to be less light (we’re shooting at night, remember!), which also means slower shutter speeds. These could be anywhere from 1-30 seconds – far too slow to shoot while holding your camera.

Using a tripod will give you much sharper images – if you haven’t got one to hand, try balancing it on a wall or other solid surface.

A PhotoBox team tip is to balance it using a beanbag (honest!). Beanbags are small enough to fit in your camera bag and are cheap to buy.


Finally – make sure you have a plan.  Pick your area in advance and be aware of the best way to get there and back. Even if you think you know an area well, it’s going to look different in the dark – don’t put yourself in any unnecessary danger!

One handy tip is to carry a headlight with you – it can also come in handy to provide light in the foreground of a photo, to avoid having to use flash which leaves images looking overexposed.

Timing is also important and the weather may be fickle – check the forecast as you decide when and where you want to shoot. If you’re going to focusing on the sky, you’ll need to know how much cloud cover to expect.

If our tips have left you feeling inspired to get shooting in the dark, here are some of our favourite night time photos from all over the world.

Oliver Wu

Niagara Falls at Night – Oliver Wu via Flickr


J Meyer

City night scene

Have you taken a brilliant photo at night, or have a tip that you swear by? Share with us below…

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