better photos at night

Tips on how to take better photos at night

If you’re anything like me, you’ve taken photos at night and been disappointed by the results. However, there are several things you can do to improve your chances of capturing more pleasing images at night. Here are 10 tips on how to take better photos at night.

1) Long Exposures

Long exposures can make nighttime photos look less grainy and much more beautiful. To take a long exposure, use a tripod (it doesn’t have to be expensive—there are even smartphone tripods for only $10) and set your camera to bulb mode. When you press down on your shutter button, it will stay down as long as you keep pressing—so release when you’re ready for your shot.

2) Slow Shutter Speed

If you’re shooting with a DSLR, experiment with shutter speeds of 10 seconds or more. If you’re shooting with a point-and-shoot camera, switch your ISO to its highest setting (often labeled as night scene or slow shutter) and set your longest exposure time. Both approaches will allow for a slower shutter speed than usual, so you can let in as much light as possible without blurriness.

3) A Tripod

Tripods aren’t just for landscape photographers. Any time you’re shooting in low light, there’s a possibility that you may experience camera shake. Tripods help stabilize your cameras and create crystal-clear pictures that are tack sharp—even when they’re taken in dimly lit locations.

4) Steady Hands

Taking photos in low light means longer exposure times, which can lead to blurry images if your hands are moving too much. To prevent motion blur, put your camera on a tripod and compose your shot before you snap it. Use either a remote shutter release or mirror lockup to eliminate any vibrations that could appear in your final image. To further stabilize your shot, try using burst mode or continuous shooting mode; by snapping lots of pictures quickly, you can ensure that at least one of them will come out clear and sharp!

5) Use Manual Mode

Most nighttime photos are taken in automatic mode, but having a bit of control over your camera will result in a much better shot. In manual mode, you can play with shutter speed (how long your lens is open and light is collecting) and aperture (the size of your lens opening). These two aspects will affect how much light hits your camera’s sensor.

6) Continuous Drive

To take better photos in low light, leave your flash turned off. (It washes out and overpowers your subject.) Instead, use Continuous Drive mode and allow your camera’s slow shutter speed to catch more ambient light. Hold your camera steady so you don’t get unwanted blurriness, but don’t worry too much about it—your subjects will appear still even if they move around a bit.

7) Create Depth of Field

The simplest way to do that is by using a smaller aperture (high f-stop number) in order to create more depth of field. This means that everything in your photo, from foreground to background, will be sharp. Remember, though, that with less light getting into your camera through a smaller aperture (smaller opening), you’ll have slower shutter speeds and possibly blurry photos if you aren’t careful. Still, it’s worth experimenting with different settings and seeing what works best for you.

8) Bokeh

The art of blurry backgrounds is known as bokeh. What you’re going for here is depth of field (DOF). By using a wide aperture lens and focusing your camera on an object in your scene, you can blur out the background while keeping your subject sharp. Additionally, by moving closer to your subject and increasing your focal length, you can make sure that only one person or object is in focus. It’s important that you choose a focal length for which your camera supports its widest aperture.

9) Tricks With Flash

Even in low light, flash is still your friend. One trick professional photographers use is to bounce their flash off a nearby surface like a wall or ceiling. This helps with two problems: First, it’s going to eliminate any harsh shadows and it’s also going to give your photos an even glow, especially when you combine it with diffusing techniques we’ll discuss below.

10) Get Creative!

The easiest way to take better photos at night is just that: getting creative. Experiment with your settings, try taking a few pictures of interesting textures or objects in front of you, and just have fun with it! The worst that can happen is you get home without any great shots—but there’s a good chance that you’ll come away with one or two wow photos.

Taking better photos at night is actually quite simple. When you get into the habit of doing these 10 things, you’ll be taking dramatically better photos in no time at all. Explore, experiment, and have fun!

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