Tips for night photography

Just because it’s dark doesn’t mean you have to put your camera away; on the contrary, you can take great pictures with it.

Here are a few photo tips that cover some techniques and features that will be very useful to you.

    Winter Landscapes


    Urban Landscapes

    Night photography

    Using the filters

    “See” in black and white

    Take photos in RAW and JPEG formats

Motion blur

It may seem obvious, but the first thing you’ll notice is the decrease in brightness. You can increase the brightness sensitivity of the camera’s digital sensor by increasing the ISO value. You can also use a large aperture to increase the amount of light reaching the sensor. Still, you may need to use a slower shutter speed to get the desired exposure.

    Winter Landscapes

The disadvantage of lower shutter speeds is camera shake blur. If you hold the camera in your hands, it will not be completely still. Lower shutter speeds do not increase motion blur, but they do increase the chance of it occurring. A longer focal length also increases the effect of camera shake. So one of the tips for night photography is to use a lens with a short focal length, such as 18 mm or 24 mm.

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Despite your best efforts to stay still, you’ll end up swinging from side to side or back and forth. By using a tripod firmly anchored to the ground, you can enjoy several minutes of exposure time without the camera moving.

If your camera is on a tripod, the main risk of movement occurs when you press the shutter release button to take the picture. Simply touching the camera may cause it to move slightly. Stabilization may take one or two seconds, which may affect exposures for a few seconds or more.

To avoid this problem, you can use the self-timer that is built into your EOS. This way, the slightest movement caused by pressing the shutter release button disappears when you take pictures. The 2-second delay is ideal for shooting static subjects if your camera is on a tripod.

Remote shutter release

If you’re shooting a moving subject and want to release the shutter at a specific time, you can use a Canon remote control. The remote control is equipped with a small cable to be connected to the camera’s remote jack. The other end of the cable has a small housing with a button. When you press this button, you take the picture without the risk of moving the camera.

Mirror lock

Many EOS cameras are equipped with a mirror lock function, which can be set using a custom function. The reflex mirror inside the camera reflects light back to the viewfinder. At the beginning of a shot, the mirror swings up to let the light pass to the sensor at the back of the camera. However, the camera may vibrate slightly as the mirror touches the foam cover when it moves quickly.

With the mirror lock, a first press of the shutter release button raises the mirror. Then wait one or two seconds for the vibration to dissipate before pressing the shutter release button again and taking the picture.

Switching to manual mode

Getting the right exposure for night scenes can be a difficult task. This is partly because the scene will often have large dark areas, but also because different exposures can give equally good results.

First take a picture with the recommended exposure. Then change one of the exposure values, such as the shutter speed, and take another picture to see if the image is better. A few shots should be enough to get the desired picture. But don’t stop there. Keep experimenting with different levels of exposure to see if you can get some great surprises.

Long Exposure Exposure

On your EOS, you can set exposure times of up to 30 seconds. The long exposure mode (B) allows you to use much longer exposure times. The mode setting (B) varies from model to model. Refer to your camera’s instruction manual to learn how to use your camera.

When the shutter button is pressed and held down while in (B) mode, the shutter will open and close only when the button is released. In addition, you can use a remote control to keep the shutter open without having to keep your finger on the shutter release button during long exposures.

With mirror lock, the first press of the shutter release button raises the mirror. Then wait one or two seconds for the vibration to dissipate before pressing the shutter button again and taking the picture.

Noise Reduction

Long exposure times can accentuate the “noise” of an image. This results in poorer image quality and loss of detail. The latest EOS cameras are all equipped with a Long Exposure Noise Reduction function that you can activate from the camera’s setup menu.

    Take photos in RAW and JPEG formats

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The camera removes much of the noise when the image is recorded on the memory card. However, the processing time is as long as the exposure time. For example, for a two-minute exposure time, the camera will need an additional two minutes to display the image on the monitor. During this time, you cannot take any more pictures.

Taking pictures in RAW format is recommended for night photography because it offers more possibilities than the high-quality JPEG format when using Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software. In addition, you can skip using the Noise Reduction function for long exposures during shooting and reduce noise in the DPP application.


Now that you know the different techniques, you need to choose your lighting and subjects carefully.

Twilight, the short period just after sunset, can be an ideal situation. On the horizon, the sky is still illuminated, even though the sun has disappeared. The light is much warmer when the sun is low in the sky than when it is at its zenith. This is why you see so many wonderful colours at sunset. Such effects are also visible at dawn. So, if the location of the subject does not allow you to shoot at dusk, get up early; shooting with the sun on the other side may offer better results.

In the city, lights are often the subjects. Try photographing illuminated signs, illuminations and buildings. Use different levels of exposure to compare results. Shooting just after a rain shower is even more interesting because the light reflects off wet sidewalks and puddles.

Fireworks are also a great subject. In this case, a slower shutter speed should be used to capture trails and explosions. Set the camera to manual mode (M) and choose an aperture between f/8 and f/16 and a shutter speed between 5 and 10 seconds. The ideal shutter speed depends largely on the frequency of explosions.

Because of darkness, your camera may have difficulty focusing. It is therefore best to set the lens to manual (MF) and focus on a subject that is at the same distance as the fireworks.