This is a guest post by Silvio de Pecher, an Italian photographer who runs a website in which he frequently teaches night photography (in Italian).
About the AuthorJim Harmer Facebook Twitter Google+Jim Harmer is the founder of Improve Photography, and host of the popular Improve Photography Podcast.
If you are shooting with a lens that is slower than an aperture of 2.8 at night, you are screwed.
There is nothing more frustrating than using a zoom lens at night which has only a maximum aperture of 3.5 or so. Night lights are beautiful, and the illuminations they give off as well as the shadows they project truly make nighttime street photographs special.
Not only that, but if you want to capture static images, shooting with illuminated lights will allow you to capture images with a much faster shutter speed. Many people are naturally afraid of shooting during the night, due to worries about getting mugged or having their camera stolen.
Here are 10 tips for night photography to get you thinking about starting your next street photography session at twilight, rather than ending it. A wide-angle lens is necessary for this type of photography because the longer the focal length, the faster the shutter speed needed to keep an image sharp. To learn more about photographing with a high ISO, you can read about it here: Reasons to Shoot High ISO Images. You should always pay attention to the main light sources in a scene, no matter where or when you are photographing, but at night this becomes even more important. On the other hand, if you stand in the street and aim the camera at the light source, as I did in the above photo, then the light will be less pronounced on the subjects, however, you will get the beautiful sign in the scene.
I try to get close to many of my subjects, but I will also try to create scenes where the subjects are small aspects of the overall scene. The technical advantage to this is that you do not need to use as fast a shutter speed to capture the motion of subjects when you are further away. Whether you want to try flash on the street is up to you, but keep in mind that it can easily lead to some confrontations.
Using a flash means that you are freed from a lot of the constraints of photographing at night. You can either have the flash do all of the work lighting the scene, where the foreground area within reach of the flash is lit and everything else is dark, or you can set the camera to expose for the scene, similar to what you would do without the flash, and then use the flash to add some fill light to your main subjects in the foreground. That being said, even with the best settings, some of your images will be taken in areas that are too dark to be exposed correctly. For these photos, I will first ignore the noise and get the exposure and look correct in Lightroom.
On this note, aim to get your photos as sharp as possible when you want sharpness, but know that a photo can still look fantastic even if it’s not tack sharp. You don’t need to freeze motion perfectly when photographing at night for the image to still look great. This is an overly general statement, so feel free to disagree, but I want to make a point here. When you expose a night shot, especially on automatic settings, the camera will often misread the scene and overexpose the image. There are many situations where bright night images are a good thing, but don’t be afraid to make your night images dark and realistic. Depending on where you live, going out at night with a camera is not always the safest idea.
Night photography is wonderful but in a big city, don’t do it alone, it can be dangerous believe me. This article, when it first appeared, was an inspiration for me to catch a few outside shots of the local pool hall, with all the neon lights and what have you. A fisherman casts his rod in Armstrong Spring Creek, one of the many popular areas to fly fish near Livingston, Montana.
I recently photographed a popular local sport in Montana—fly fishing—in Armstrong Spring Creek near Livingston, which is one of the most popular fly fishing spots in the world.

Jonathan Irish is a professional photographer and Director of Programs for National Geographic Adventures. In a fortuitous moment, photographer Catherine Karnow came upon Roland and his dog, Twinkle, traveling on the GoldenPass train. Photographer Catherine Karnow carefully composed her view and worked with her subjects to capture the essence of the Lavaux region in Switzerland. Originally, photographer Catherine Karnow wanted to use mountains as a background for her picture, but by adjusting for the light, she discovered an even better composition and a picturesque Swiss scene. In order to give a sense of speed, the photographer purposely used a panning technique to photograph this red lechwe. With large ears and an elegant spotted fur coat, African wild dogs are a special and rare sight in Botswana. About On AssignmentFollow our National Geographic Travel photographers as they capture images on assignment.
There is a special value called natural ISO that transmits the minimum possible amplificationA on the sensor. Depending how close the North Star A (South Cross on southA hemisphere) is, there is a limit to how long an exposure can last before the stars begin to look oblong rather than circular. There were several of you who mentioned an article about how to shoot street photography at night. Nowadays digital cameras have amazing high-ISO capabilities, so don’t be afraid to bump up your ISO. If you see the image above by Garry Winograd, he is able to beautifully capture an image of a man with a patch over his face, accompanied by his beautiful companion in his top-down convertible in Los Angeles.
There have even been times in which I accidentally captured motion at night due to a slower shutter speed–but much preferred the outcome. When first shooting street photography, I used a tripod at night a few times thinking that it would aid my night images.
It makes focusing a hell of a lot easier and has helped me capture images in which I had only a split of a second to focus. Regardless of what type of autofocusing system your camera has, the technology is still much too slow and inaccurate. When shooting street photography at night, try to go to urban city-centers, where people are abundant and flashing lights are everywhere. Cityscapes are lit with a myriad of interesting and colorful light sources, such as lampposts, neon signs, store windows, car lights, and bare bulbs. With a 28mm or 35mm lens (up to 50mm) it becomes much easier to handhold the camera at slower shutter speeds.
With modern digital cameras you can photograph anywhere from ISO 1600 to 6400 with decent or good quality. Start by finding a beautiful light source, or an area with good lighting, and wait around for something to happen. If you are leaning against a shop with a lit sign behind you, like the man in the photograph above, then as subjects pass you they will be lit with a strong light that has a gorgeous color to it. At night, backgrounds can be much more beautiful than during the day, so it often works to have people become the secondary element to the scene, rather than the primary focus.
However, one of the times to use a tripod is when you want to capture a busy scene, with lots of people and motion. You can use a faster shutter speed and include more depth of field in the photo and less grain (noise). It’s impossible to photograph this way and expose every image perfectly within the camera. After I do this, if I’ve had to raise the exposure setting a significant amount, the grain will look terrible.
This grain looks much more pleasing to the eye than brightened, extreme digital noise and it can further hide some of the technical deficiencies in underexposed images.
He is the author of the e-book, "The Essentials of Street Photography" and runs photo tours of New York.

I did so, but it didn’t work well with the kit lens that came with my D3200 (not good for low light situations). While on assignment, Catherine Karnow was tasked with capturing the charm and aura of this magical lake and its surrounding area.
See their photos before anyone else as they share breathtaking shots from the world's most beautiful destinations. In our macro photography tips we tell you how to get the best results when shooting macro outside. A Heat increases the digital noise in the resulting photo, so shooting on a cooler night can slightly improve your night photography. A RememberA to balance the temperature of the light with gels to have a uniform light temperature throughout the scene. A If you prefer to adjust the white balance in the field, then you might consider a tungsten setting to achieve a beautiful blue look. Remember if you are using open flash or light painting technique, the light needs to be consistent between the exposures or the result can be quite strange looking. White balance set to tungsten, light painting on the front of the church, multiple unbalanced open flash inside the building showing in electric blue.
In the background, you can see another car whizzing by, which gives you a dynamic feel of the image. This allows your camera to collect much more available light during the night, which will allow you to get quicker shutter speeds. Sure you can shoot at night with a zoom lens with an aperture of 2.8, but zoom lenses like that are often too bulky and heavy to shoot street photography with anyways. However, I do not discount the merits of focusing manually when shooting street photography, especially when shooting from the hip. Switch your camera to focusing manually, and you will have far more control over focusing and will be able to focus much quicker in general.
Take for example this great post on The Online Photographer in which Corinne Vionnet stacked hundreds of images of tourists who took photos in the same spot. Let your curiosity lead you and capture amazing images. For the occasional shots with excellent content that you want to save, you will have no choice but to raise the exposure when editing.
Luckily, there are some keys to saving an image like this as long as you are photographing in RAW. The result will not be a perfectly sharp image, but it will still be pleasing and beautiful. When you're working at such close focusing distances any imperfections become more noticeable and they can end up distracting the viewer or spoiling what could be an excellent shot. I love shooting at night, because I feel that is when you can capture the true soul of the urban jungle–when street lights illuminate and people are on the prowl. When shooting during the day, I often even add grain to my images to give it a more urban feel. Without that motion blur, the image may have felt much too static and wouldn’t have had the same effect. If you shoot aperture-dependent mode or automatic mode, try using an ISO of 200-400 to capture motion.
But when using auto-focus or using manual-focus are both options you have when shooting during the day (and light is plentiful). Shooting street photography at night allows for much more mysterious scenes and images than shooting during the day. Not only that, but it slowed me down and prevented me from capturing the decisive moments I wanted to at night. If the noise is still bad after noise reduction I will sometimes bring it into Photoshop and add a very slight Gaussian blur.

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