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Night photography mantra

Ever wondered how some photographers manage to get the perfect reflection of their subject in water? Till I learnt some techniques I always wondered how they do that. There must be some magic or some post production involved. But its an extremely simple technique and one I will share with you today.

Rememberten ground rulesbefore you decide to do night photography:

  • Choose your location well– It’s quite handy to know beforehand where you will be placing the camera, what angle will you be shooting from since it generally tends to be a bit dark and knowing your location well can save time and get you up and running quicker.
  • A tripod is a MUST – Always remember to carry your tripod with you for a couple of reasons. One, you have more freedom to adjust your settings thus avoiding any sort of camera shake and get much better results. Two, you can turn around and look at other settings too while the camera does its job.
  • Carry a remote/Self-timer– Night photography has its own set of gears and a remote is very important. So for instance when you decide to leave your shutter on for 10 seconds, a simple camera shake by pressing the click button on the camera can affect the image. So leave the camera on the tripod with all your settings in place and then hit click from your remote thus avoiding the tiniest possibility of a shaky moment. If you don’t have a remote just switch to self timer mode.
  • Switch to manual– Remember to stick to manual mode in this case. This gives you a lot of room to experiment with a longer shutter, higher f number, white balance, lower ISOs and more.
  • Keep ISO to minimum –This is another reason why carrying a tripod is a must. If you leave your camera on the tripod then you can leave your shutter for a longer time (10-15 seconds) and keep your ISO at 100. This means low noise in the picture which you will normally see if you have a higher ISO. Although some software help in noise reduction techniques but let’s try and stick to as much work we can do with the camera itself.
  • Mirror Lockup –Mirror Lockup is a feature that most DSLRs have. Some have a dedicated button on the camera itself while others have it within settings. The purpose of mirror lock-up is to control vibration in the camera so that camera shake does not negatively impact the photo. Remember to enable this when taking night shots (i.e, leaving shutter on for a longer period) and remember to disable it after.
  • Play with Aperture –I generally tend to play around with aperture levels in order to experiment with the colours of the sky. If you leave your shutter on for 15-20 seconds and ISO at 100 then an aperture of around f9-f10 will give you good results.
  • Composition– This is the most important bit of night photography. You might have all your settings correct but if your picture is not composed well then it might still fail. Remember yourrule of thirdswhen composing your picture and ensure that keep it tight. Don’t let a stray object enter the frame else it can be distracting for the viewer.
  • Create don’t click– I have always felt photography can be of two kinds – one where you point and shoot and two where you create and craft an image. Remember to create an image. Don’t be in a hurry to shoot innumerable images. Shoot five instead of ten but make sure they are quality images.
  • Be patient –And finally, be patient. You might take 50 images and realise that only 2 of them are good. Don’t get disheartened. Go back with your gear again and don’t make the same mistakes again. Mastering the art of night photography is not easy. There is no end to techniques and there is so much to learn. Spend some time figuring out what settings you want, how you want to compose your picture and then hit click. Think of yourself as an artist and you will view everything differently.

Good luck and I hope you find this useful! Feel free to comment if you have any questions.

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