Digital Night Photography

Digital Night Photography has it's Challenges!

Digital night photography has some very specific challenges, not least of which is the fact that you will be shooting in low light conditions or even in darkness. But there are techniques that you can use for digital night photography that will enable you to get some incredible pictures. The subject matter you can use for digital night photography ranges from city skylines to party photos. The choice is yours.

The first thing you need to understand about any type of night photography is that there are several potential problems. If you understand these, you can avoid them or overcome them. One of the biggest problems that most cameras have is image noise that happens when you take low-light shots. The effect it has is to make the photograph look really grainy, and you can often see tiny blue or red dots, which are pixels. They are usually more obvious where there are large areas of dark colour. The darker the colour, the more obvious they will be. So tip number one, avoid large areas of dark colour.

Noise is created by the camera's electronics, and is similar to the hissing noise you hear if a radio isn't properly tuned. It happens when the signal (which is the light that is captured) is not as strong as the noise, or interference.

Remember that if you increase your camera's sensitivity to light by adjusting the ISO setting you will effectively add noise. Read your manual to see where this is and remember that the higher the number, the greater the sensitivity to light. For low light and night photography, it's usually best to stick to a low ISO setting (100 or 200) and to support the camera on a tripod or some other type of stand to keep it still and steady. If there is a noise reduction setting on your camera, use it. This will have the effect of keeping the shutter open for longer, which is why it's important to support the camera.

If you want to take a photograph of buildings lit up at night or a landscape with the moon in the sky, you will also have to be sure to keep the camera still and steady. If you are able to control the aperture manually, set it to the largest aperture available, and turn off the automatic flash. If you have a self-timer, set it to ten seconds. You also need to set the camera to landscape (this might automatically switch the flash off). If there is a night scene mode on your camera, this is the one to use.

You can also use the night scene mode when you shoot in low light, rather than darkness. If you use a slow shutter speed with a burst of flash, this will capture any ambient light and the flash will light up the background. Don't forget to use the redeye reduction setting if you are focusing on people. This controls the redeye affect which changes the colour of people's eyes, adding a red cast. If you are shooting animals, you will see that their eyes tend to go green.

Some cameras also have a night portrait mode, which is designed to help us take good photographs of people in low light situations. It will then automatically produce a slow shutter speed plus flash, but the flash will not be as powerful as it is for night scene mode.

If you use some of these tips, and experiment, you might really enjoy doing digital night photography.

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