Taking Night Time Photos Photos at Dusk

Dusk and night shots can capture some visually dramatic shots, however, this is a time when many photographers will pack their cameras away and go home. Taking decent quality photographs during low light levels is a challenge in itself but during dusk and the hours of darkness taking a decent photograph can be more difficult although there are a few things a photographer can do to ensure amazing night time shots that will wow friends and family members alike.

Nearly all cameras contain their own artificial light source, i.e. flash, that is used during times of low light levels. The flash emits a quick background of light to illuminate the subject of the photograph just before the photograph is taken. The flash is only really effective indoors within a few feet of the camera and where there are plenty of objects for the rays of light to bounce off and reflect back in to the picture. In outside conditions a standard flash is not ideal, in fact it is virtually useless, since the light will simply dissipate in to the ether. Fortunately, there is a way of overcoming this and this involves firing the flash a couple of times before actually taking the photograph. This can be done with most modern digital cameras, although it does take a bit of practice to get this right. An alternative and easier method is to have a separate flash gun, although these can be expensive and are another piece of equipment that needs to be carried around, therefore they are only really suitable in specific circumstances.

Whilst many people think good night time photography is all about the flash the actual key to taking decent photographs in low light levels is controlling the aperture and the shutter speed. The aperture is the size of the lens opening and in low light conditions large apertures are needed in order to let the maximum amount of light in. The shutter speed determines how long the shutter is open for. In low light levels you need the shutter to remain open for as long as possible, since the longer it’s open the more light will reach the sensor. In addition, setting higher ISO speeds will increase the light gathering ability of the camera.

When the shutter speed is increased to allow the shutter to be open for extended periods, i.e. long exposure times of up to 30 seconds, it is important to be able to hold the camera still, otherwise you will get a blurry photograph. Instead of holding the camera in the hands a tripod is highly recommended since it will hold the camera very still whilst the photograph is being taken. If using a tripod ensure any vibration reduction lens function is disabled.

So, when taking photographs at dusk or at night adopt the multiple flash process (unless indoors where the standard flash should be sufficient), set the aperture to its largest setting, set the shutter speed to its minimum and use a tripod to ensure the camera is held steady whilst taking the photograph.