Hints and tips on photography 4

A Guide to:

Photo taking Cities At Night-time

One of the toughest points about shooting a urban area at dark is truly finding a good vantage point. There are quite a few places that have viewpoints, but many will be unreachable at dark, or will not permit you to use a tripod.  Do some research using postcards and see where other photographers have taken photos and keep a eye out for open spaces on a map, particularly those that look out across a river.


While photographers talk about ‘night’ photography, the best pictures will actually be taken at dusk, whilst there is still light in the sky. If you take pictures too late, then the sky will be totally black and any illuminated areas of the structures will tend to over-expose and bleach out. The time to take your pictures is when the ambient light on streets and buildings, the well-lit areas of the shot and the dimming sky are all steady. This is a very short window of time, and it is worth shooting every minute or so and reviewing the results.

Camera wobble is the major drawback that you will have to deal with. It used to be that you regularly had to use a stand to keep the camera still, but with contemporary digital cameras’ much improved high ISO performance, you can now select a higher sensitivity and hand-hold the camera. This will generally be restricted to lighter scenes and you won’t be able to use more powerful telephoto lenses.

If you are at a vantage point that doesn’t allow the use of a tripod, then this may be the one way to take photos, but arguably you will get better quality photos if you shoot with a lower sensitivity and a support.

Light Trails

A support will allow you to use a smaller aperture to get a greater depth of field and the commensurately longer exposures will let you to record vehicle trails: where car head and rear lights move during the exposure making long trails of light.

When choosing a tripod, you need to be sure that it is steady. This is always a balance between bulk and stability, particularly for photo sharing, but a flimsy tripod which will wobble in a mere zephyr is worse than useless! You will also need some sort of remote release so that the camera isn’t jogged during the exposure.


When dealing with the exposure, you should avoid pointing the camera directly at a very bright part of the scene as this will fool the camera into overexposing. Position the http://www.worldgreatcities.com camera at an regular part of the sky, and then brace it – take a few photos at different exposures to make sure one of them is accurate.

If your camera has like this different photo style modes, set it to the dark photography mode. This will help with exposures and also guie your camera to use a slower speed and not automatically kick in with the flash. If you do not have a picture scene mode, then you might have to turn off the built in flash to guarantee that the camera will use a slower speed.

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