How to take photos at night

How to take photos at night

by Wendy Atkins


Photos taken at night can be really beautiful with a crisp dark sky and all the evening lights shining.  There are a few necessary steps to take to ensure the best quality night time shots.

how to take photos at night

Nikon D800, 24-70mm lens, 30sec, f11, 100 ISO


  1. Always use a tripod, no amount of handholding will be stable enough for a decent landscape night time shot even if you crank the ISO right up.
  2. Keep the ISO as low as possible, 100 or 200.  The reason for this is that the lowest ISO results in crisper colours and no grain which is just what you need for the night lights.
  3. Shoot in manual using as slow a shutter speed as possible. If you are shooting water this will yield the water as soft and smooth, it will also allow some reflections to show up from the lights and enhance them.
  4. Set your f stop to F14 or above, this will ensure you get the sharpest depth of field possible. If you need to slow the shutter down more attach a neutral density filter which will reduce the light.
  5. Use a cable release if possible, if you don’t have one set your camera onto self-timer and stand away from the camera whilst it takes the picture to reduce any camera shake.
  6. Best to use a wide-angle lens, or at least go as wide as your lens will allow.
  7. Set the White Balance to Auto
  8. Look for an interesting composition, look at using leading lines or find some foreground interest to make the shot more appealing.
  9. If you are taking an image of an icon such as the harbor bridge look for a way to make that image unique ie a new angle, go low and shoot upwards, twist the camera to a jaunty diagonal etc.

10. Find a point of interest to set your focus, if you need to lock your focus and recompose the shot.  Remember that your depth of focus will cover 1/3 in front and 2/3 behind so set the focus point accordingly.  If it is too dark to focus automatically set focus to manual and try that way.  If still too dark try shining a torch onto the subject to enable correct focusing. (Always carry a torch with you in your camera bag, it not only can help set focus but also you can light up the camera so that you can read the dials and also light your way home!)

how to take night shots

Nikon D800, 24-70mm lens, 0.8sec, f6.3, 100 ISO


how to take photos at night

Nikon D800, 24-70mm lens, 2.5sec, f6.3, 100 ISO





About Wendy Atkins

Wendy Atkins is a Sydney Photographer She loves capturing memories and sharing people's lives in a way that words can never express. She loves sharing in special events especially weddings and anniversary celebrations and capturing the love between people.