City Night Photography

Photo By Amy Renfrey. Canon EOS 500D, F22, 10 seconds, ISO 800, 105 mm

 City night photography is one of the greatest things that you can do in your photography. It is such a terrific way to improve your photography in general. But what are the secrets? How do we create nice and sharp, colourful city night photography scenes?

The key to successful city night photography is keeping your camera still. I recommend to use a long shutter speed, a steady tripod and grab yourself a nifty little tool called the shutter release cable.

I want to explain why you need these things. You need a tripod so that you can keep your camera still. You need a long shutter speed to be able let as much light as you can on to the centre. You need a shutter release cable so that you can activate the shutter speed without touching the camera. By touching the camera you can potentially risk blurring your images.

Even the slightest breath of wind can completely ruin your city night shots. The camera can be moving almost imperceptibly and your images could be ruined. It doesn’t take much at all. A steady tripod is very important because it will hold your camera firm in the one position.

The shutter release cable is a black lead that inserts from one end into your camera. The other end has a small control with a button on it. This button opens and closes your shutter speed whenever you press the button. This is just one of the ways you can avoid movement and blurring your city night shots.

Aperture is very important as well. A large aperture works to blur background. A small aperture works to sharpen a background. This is why landscape photography professionals always use an aperture of F 22, all smaller, to be able to get sharp photos. I won’t get into the technical details now. I really need to explain it in a lot more detail. But for now just heed my recommendation and try it.

You need to watch your light any time you shoot in a lowlight setting. City night photography is no exception. A long shutter speed is usually ideal for city shots at night. In some scenes you may want to open your shutter for 30 seconds. This is how do you get car taillights looking like bright ribbons of light. This is also called timelapse photography. You can also open your shutter for only a couple of seconds depending on how much light you have.

Getting the right lighting can take a bit of practice. The auto exposure bracketing method is a fantastic way to work out what settings are exposing your scene perfectly. Depending on the camera you have this might be called AEB or EB. It’s the same thing. What happens in this mode is the camera will take three pictures. It will take one that is under exposed, perfectly exposed and overexposed. In layman’s terms one picture doesn’t have enough light, one picture has the perfect amount of light and one picture has too much light.

Exposure bracketing can surprise you. There have been some times when I have used this method and found that the photo which are much light was actually the perfect exposure. I’m not saying don’t trust your camera under saying experiment and try what works. You may have seen where one moment the exposure is bright and the next moment it is not. This may be because of passing cars for example.

You can get the most beautiful pictures especially if they are sharp. Sharpness depends on your camera and your lens. If you have a good camera and a good lens and you are still not getting sharp images then you will have to sharpen your images in photo shop or light room.

You can take the most beautiful city night images. It is a very exciting photographic pursuit. City night photography has brought me so much joy in the past. If you would ever like any help with this please feel free to contact me. I’m very happy to share what I know.

Photo By Amy Renfrey. Canon EOS 500D, F22, 34 seconds, ISO 800, 40 mm

About the Author

Amy is an multi-award winning photographer from Australia. She teaches enthusiast photographers how to take beautiful, professional photos in easy, plain English. She has a monthly photography emagazine and ebooks to help you create stunning images every time.

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  1. Dave says:

    Excellent suff, thanks for such informative articles.

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