DSLR Night Photography - Best Tips in 2023
In this text I will explain how you can do DSLR night photography. It will be a detailed guide that will include all of the “side” gear that you will need next to your camera obviously.
Nautrally we first have to understand what does the DSLR mean in order to crach down how to work with it in low light environment.
DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. It is a type of digital camera that uses a mirror and prism system to direct light from the camera’s lens to an optical viewfinder, allowing the photographer to see exactly what the lens sees in real-time. When you press the shutter button on a DSLR, the mirror flips up, and the light hits the image sensor, capturing the photo.
Of course on of the most important aspects of DSLR cameras is that they have manual control which will also us to have a much more control over the camera functionalities. This is exactly what we will need in order to take a good night photos.
HOW TO DO NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY WITH DSLR CAMERA
SELECT A CORRECT SUBJECT
Of course there are few things to consider when going out to capture photos at night. First of them all is your subject, single handedly the most important thing. You should consider your subjects carefuly as at night many of them wont work. The subjects that you should aim for are mainly cars and architecture. Of course you should also always aim to have as much light around as possible.
You should avoid doing the following subject at low light environment, fast moving objects, macro photography as it can be hard achieving precise focus and controlling depth of field at night, especially without specialized lighting.
Wildlife Photography, wildlife can be challenging to find and capture in the dark. Even with a fast lens and high ISO settings, getting a sharp and well-exposed image of wildlife at night can be demanding.
Fast-Paced Events, like concerts or dance performances, can be challenging due to the combination of low light and the need for freezing motion.
Furthermore I would point out that you should also avoid taking subjects that require a flash. As flash can be extremely aggressive and it may not always produce the desired results, especially for more natural-looking night scenes. Of course its recommended to use flash but not to rely solely on it for the lightning.
USE A TRIPOD TO DO NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY WITH DSLR
To prevent camera shake and capture sharp images, use a sturdy tripod. This is crucial when dealing with longer exposure times in low-light conditions. Of course I will here also provide a best camera settings while using tripod at night. First things first you should set your camera to aperture priority mode. Then you should set your aperture to F8. Next up you should set your ISO to 100.
Now what this is going to do is to give you a lot more detail and a lot of less grain. Now, the best part about aperture priority mode is that the camera is going to figure the shutter speed for you and that wont give you any headache. Now to the other set of settings you should set your image stabilization off because that would add uneccessary shake to your image.
Now the most interesting tip about doing night photography with tripod and dslr camera is that you should set the camera on 2 seconds timer. By doing this camera will wait 2 seconds before taking the shot but why would you do this? So, if you didn’t have the timer and you hit the shutter button camera would take the photo instantly but you would give a little shake to your camera while pressing the button.
SHOOT IN RAW FORMAT
RAW files contain more information and allow for better post-processing, especially in low-light conditions where you might need to adjust exposure and white balance.
There are number of benefits when you are shooting in RAW format at low light environment and some of them are:
- Increased Dynamic Range: RAW files contain more data compared to JPEG files, allowing you to capture a broader range of tones and details in both the highlights and shadows. This is especially useful for night scenes with a wide range of light intensities.
- Better Noise Control: Night photography often involves higher ISO settings to capture enough light. RAW files retain more color and brightness information, making it easier to reduce noise and preserve image quality during post-processing.
- Flexible White Balance: RAW files allow you to adjust white balance without any loss of image quality. This is particularly valuable in night photography, where artificial lighting can create various color casts.
- Non-Destructive Editing: When you edit a RAW file, changes are applied without permanently altering the original data. This means you can experiment with different edits and revert to the original image if needed.
- Highlight and Shadow Recovery: RAW files offer better recovery options for overexposed highlights and underexposed shadows. You can often salvage details in these areas that might be lost in JPEG files.
- More Post-Processing Control: With RAW, you have greater control over exposure, contrast, sharpness, and other adjustments during post-processing. This control enables you to fine-tune your night photos precisely to your artistic vision.
- Fine Details and Sharpness: RAW files preserve finer details and sharpness, providing more latitude for enhancing and refining images in post-processing.
- Lens Corrections: RAW files can store lens correction data, enabling software to automatically correct for lens distortions, vignetting, and chromatic aberrations.
- Higher Quality Output: By starting with a RAW file, you have the best possible source material for creating high-quality prints or sharing images on different platforms.
- Future-Proofing: RAW files are like digital negatives. As camera and software technology advances, you can go back to your RAW files and reprocess them with the latest tools to get even better results.
DO MANUAL FOCUS WITH YOUR DSLR CAMERA
It is also very important to do the focusing yourself as the auto focus may struggle to find the subject and focus on it properly in low light environment. In order to do this yourself you should use your cameras Live View feature and fine tune the focus yourself.
Pay attention to the composition and include interesting foreground elements to enhance your night photos. As you are trying to show the journey through the frame one of the best tips someone can give you regarding the nihgt photography is that you should always have stuff in the foreground. Here is one example of that kind of photo.
CONSIDER LIGHT PAINTING
If you want to add more light to a specific area, you can use a flashlight or a dedicated light-painting tool to illuminate parts of the scene during a long exposure.
To ensure you get the exposure just right, consider using exposure bracketing. Take multiple shots with different exposures to capture a broader range of light.
AVOID OVEREXPOSURE WHILE DOING NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
Be cautious not to overexpose areas with bright lights, such as street lamps, as they can create blown-out highlights that are difficult to recover in post-processing.