Night landscape photography used to be a challenge and the low light can play havoc with your camera settings. But with the modern DSLRs today and a few tricks to learn, photographers already find the night time a great time to produce some great landscape images.
And here’s a guide you can check to help you in your night landscape photography.
Night landscape photography: Important things to know before you go
Like in any other fields of photography, coming up with a good plan before getting to the location for a shoot helps you win half the battle.
In night photography, some of the most important aspects you need to research before heading out are:
The moon cycle
The moon is one of the main features of the night that give a dramatic effect to night photographs. You just have to remember that a full moon can trim down the exposure time and can make the sky appear bluer like it’s daytime but it can also reduce the visibility of the stars. So when it’s full moon, you can work on city lights or mountains and fields rather than astrophotography.
You can check the moon cycle and the schedule for moonrise and set times on different locations on the internet.
It’s always important to check on the weather. This is to avoid mist forming on your lens when there is fog or rain. It is also necessary when you are working on star trails, so you can check when the sky is clear.
As mentioned, light pollution can overwhelm the presence of the stars, but it can also add much-needed color to other subjects of night photography. Capturing cityscapes is one instance where you will need stronger colors.
Flashes and long exposures can quickly drain your camera’s battery, so always bring spares and make sure they are fully charged.
Night landscape photography: On location
Choose your composition
Arrive at your selected location before it gets dark so you can compose your images. It will be a good time too to set up your camera and easily check whether your tripod is securely positioned on the ground or not.
Like we always mention, it is better to shoot in raw format than in JPEG. This will allow you to do some touch-ups during the post-processing without distorting the images which often happens when editing JPEGs.
Adjusting the exposure, noise and white balance of night images can be applied beautifully when you are working with Raw files.
Set up your camera
To set up your camera for night photography, you have to first attach your cable release and put your setting to bulb mode before testing and selecting the right aperture.
Focus the lens on your subject and switch to manual focusing so your camera lens won’t start to hunt as soon as it gets dark.
Take a test shot
Once it’s dark, begin illuminating your subject with your camera flash or torchlight. Take note of the total exposure time and the amount of light you used to make it easier for you to take photos on your actual shoot.
Review your test shot
The good thing in making test shots is that you can review flaws and work out the areas that need improvement. Check for light balance and exposure. Retake photos and keep reviewing until you achieve results that you are happy with.
Night landscape photography: Tips to help you take better photos
Focus image with a torch
Since your torch is brighter than your flash, you can use it to illuminate your subject until you get a focus lock. Remember to switch to manual focus so it won’t hunt for other subjects when you press the shutter button.
Compose image using high ISO
When shooting in the dark, you will need to set your ISO setting to the most senisitive point. Make test shots and recompose when needed. Once done with with shooting, lower your ISO back to 100-200.
Add some noise reduction accessory to your camera when it doesn’t have such built-in feature. This will reduce visual distortion greatly along with a higher ISO setting. You can smoothen out any other noise during the post-processing.
If you need more tips on how to produce better images at night, tune in to Taming Light Photography’s Youtube channel, download a photography ebook on our website or register to our online courses today!