Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Night Photography & Long Exposures

Night photography is probably my favourite type of photography, away from the computer, its dark, usually quiet and hardly anyone is about!

Here are the items I recommend that you need:

  • Tripod
    Can't really be done without a sturdy tripod. Make sure you clips are closed when the legs are extended, easy to miss when setting up in the dark! A sand bag on a wall/top of car can get you by but does limit you to angles etc.
  • Cable release
    A lot of the time I will forget this so am limited to use the longest setting of 30seconds. There are two kinds you can get, a simple one with a lock for bulb setting, or a digital one where you can watch your time, or set the length of the exposure you want. If you don't have a cable release use the self timer to avoid any camera shake, even though over 30 seconds it really shouldn't matter.
  • Torch
    To see where you are going! And to light paint foregrounds etc. Be careful not to attract unwanted attention, and be prepared to tell police you are not signaling drug smugglers!
  • Timer
    If your cable release doesn't have one use your watch (or simply count!), I find the iPhone too cumbersome, and too bright (which can also attract unwanted attention).
  • Warm clothes
    Depends on your location/time of year, but standing around for long periods of time even on a summer night can get chilly.

Here are some samples, with camera settings and any other relevant details.

This was a perfect night, clear sky with a few whiskey clouds and a full money just rising. Any later and the moon would have been too high and would have lit up too much of the sky and taken away from 
the stars. This a place I drove by in day time and took note of it to return when the right night came along.
Lonely Tree
Exposure 30 | Aperture f/9.0 | ISO 800

Making use of the city lights against the clouds and the sea at low tide.
Dublin Seafront Night
Exposure 92 | Aperture f/8.0 | ISO 200

Short long exposure! using a ledge as a tripod, being careful not to knock the camera down the 100 floors!
NYC from Empire StateExposure 2.5 | Aperture f/2.8 | ISO 200

A somewhat cloudy night. Using a torch to light the rocks in the  foreground, starting half way through the exposure, waving the light along the rocks (from behind the camera).
Exposure 30 | Aperture f/10.0 | ISO 200

A boosted ISO for a change to make use of all the lighting sources - moon, star, city, nearby street lamp, and subjects head-torch.
Night FishersExposure 30 | Aperture f/4.5 | ISO 1600

This was dusk, and taken from a bridge. The exposure was limited to 4 seconds as this is from when a car came into sight to when it came on to the bridge and started shaking it too much, ruining the photo.

Exposure 4 | Aperture f/16.0 | ISO 200

Another one of those perfect nights, with clear sky and a few fluffy clouds scattered about. Forgot the cable release, but 30 seconds gave enough time to blur the clouds and waves.

Night Sea
Exposure 30 | Aperture f/2.8 | ISO 200

Going after three subjects in this photo, the stars, the light house, and the foreground rocks lit with the torch.

By Hook or By Crook
Exposure 30 | Aperture f/2.8 | ISO 200

A simple one taking advantage of a nicely lit night, with the waves breaking on the shore lit using the torch. 
Where the Sea meets the Sky
Exposure 30 | Aperture f/3.5 | ISO 400

Get your cable release (timers) here.
Cheap but the source of my torches!


  1. I love that the common theme with all your samples is the horizon - whether its city, countryside or sea!

  2. That first one, wowwwwww! Are these for sale?

  3. Can you explain this for me? Whats the lighting looking light.

    1. That was a head-lamp/torch on the fisher man, the lighting looking bit would have been when the torch was facing directly into the camera and he moved and bent down. The rest was picking up the light in the general area, when he was looking at the ground etc.

  4. Coming more from a night fisherman than photographer WARM CLOTHES!!