Top 10 Night Photography Tips

Here is my Top Ten tips for Night Photography!
How many colors can a light blub have?
  1. Remember that light bulbs in the city can be all different color temperatures! Meaning that you can get green, blue, yellow, or white lights in your images!  This is what makes night photography so fun, you never know what colors your going to get. Don't believe me, just check out the image above from LA.
  2. Remember that no clouds = boring sky's and boring images! Clouds always make for more dramatic images and amazing sunsets so be sure to check out the weather and look up at the sky before you head out. Often times I actually wait for a rainy or cloudy forecast. Obviously this won't work for shooting Stars but for cityscapes it adds so much more to the image!  
  3. Setting your white balance manually can really make a difference! Even though you can change it later in Lightroom/Camera Raw its always better to see what your getting while shooting. Pop into Live view and scroll through the different options and see which ones look the best. Depending on what time of day it is, "Daylight", "Tungsten", or "Florescent" are most often the winners.
  4. While in the dark, focusing is easiest for me in live-view. 99% of the time I set my focus to manual, turn on live-view, check focus on my subject OR set to infinity and leave it. This saves me a ton of time and hassle with my 5D trying to focus in the dark. Plus it gives me the best peace of mind to know my images will be tack sharp knowing I set the focus myself! 
  5. Shoot Blue Hour! 99% of my shooting is done a half hour before sunset and about 1-2hrs after giving me the best results for a rich blue sky, dramatic light,  and amazing sunsets. Time of day is everything! 
  6. Always keep shooting just a little bit longer then you think you should! So many times my best images are the ones I shot at the last second right before I left to go home. Always keep watching the light. Its changing all the time. You never know when you might find magic! 
  7. I always try and get as close to the 30sec exposure limit as I can. Exposing for that 30sec gives me the greatest chance of getting car/bus blurs in my images or just simply avoiding capturing a person walking through my shot. In crowded places its inevitable that people will walk in front of the camera. At 30seconds there usually isn't enough time for your sensor to register them if they keep walking. Having that long exposure really helps! 
  8. When doing traditional long exposures at night, always try and exposure your images about 1 stop over the base exposure. Often times night images are underexposed so giving your images a little extra exposure really makes a difference.  This also follows the "expose to the right" idea. You will have a lot more data to work with in camera raw if you exposure a little more to the right. Try it!
  9. Keep an LED headlamp in your camera bag.You never know when you need an extra light source or just a flash light to find your way back to the car. An LED headlamp can be used to light paint an object or just add a little extra fill to a super dark place. Overall its just always good to have one handy.   
  10. Capturing the "true to life" scene is not always the best at night. Remember that at night your image sensor is more like an oil painting. The paint doesn't dry very fast so you have plenty of time to paint the light in.  Take advantage of it and try exposing longer then you think you should. The results might surprise you!