Night Photography & Slower Shutter Speed
One of the benefits of learning about manual mode & shutter speed is that you can venture out and practice photography in challenging light conditions.
Let's talk about night & low light photos!
By using slower shutter speeds (keeping your shutter open longer) you can make photos in darker places and conditions that other photographers tend to skip over.
Slower shutter speed settings are usually measured in full seconds. Three, five, ten, twenty seconds or more. Rather than fractions of a second used in "normal" shots like portraits or action shots (1/80th, 1/100th, 1/500th).
When Is a Good Time to Slow Your Shutter Speed?
Answer: When there isn’t a whole lot of available light.
Expose your photograph over a longer period of time and let more light find the camera sensor. This can make for stunning images!
Where to Start: Camera Settings
ISO - 100 (Or Lower). In general, start with the lowest ISO setting your camera is capable of. Most cameras can go as low as ISO 100. Some even lower.
SHUTTER SPEED - 10 Seconds. The whole idea is to slow your shutter speed down to catch the available light. Even if there isn’t much of it. Depending on the light and your location, you can experiment with different lengths of time for different results.
APERTURE - f/16. Since you're getting lots of light reach your sensor with slower shutter speeds, a closed-up aperture setting will work well. f/16 is a good place to start. Remember to experiment with this setting too!
Use A Tripod
Trying to take a handheld shot with slow shutter photography is pretty much impossible. Your body moves, your hands shake, you breathe in and out! You will end up with motion blur.
Use a tripod to stabilize your camera. Making it possible for a sharp, well-focused image.
No Tripod? No Problem! Use Your Wallet?
You will be surprised at what you can use to stabilize your shot. Rest your camera on a wallet. Set your camera on top of a trash bin. Lay it on the ground. The point is not to handhold your shot. Use anything that's available!
Use a Remote Shutter Release
When you hit the shutter button with your finger, your camera will shake a little bit. Just enough to blur a long exposure shot. Even if your camera is on a tripod.
Try using a remote shutter release (off-camera button). Most manufacturers have affordable off-camera triggers available. Some manufacturers have phone apps that make it possible to trigger a photograph from your phone!
No Remote? No Problem! Use Your Timer
You can get the same results by using the timer function on your camera. You can press the shutter and give your camera a few seconds to settle down before the shot is taken. Most modern cameras have a timer. Take a minute and scroll through your menu to find it.
TIP - Find A Stationary Focal Point In Your Scene
Include something in your shot that isn't moving. You may be able to use it as a focal point. The contrast between things that are moving (cars, lights, stars, airplanes) and things that are standing still (buildings, mountains, trees) can anchor an image and make it great.
I know a few photographers that shoot ONLY at night. They walk around with a camera and tripod looking for great scenes. Have fun with this artistic style of photography!
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