Night Light Photography

This year, during the Christmas holiday, I tried several night photography shots in snowy, cold weather. 

Photo: Close up detail of mini white Christmas lights outdoors at night–photograph by Marie Kazalia

I hadn’t done night photography in a very long time–in fact, the last time I shot at night I was shooting with film in an SLR camera in mild weather temperatures in California.

This year, I’m in snowy, cold temperatures, using a DSLR and the weather conditions created some obstacles for me. Perhaps sharing my experiences here will help you the first time you go out to shoot at night.

Planning Ahead to Get the Best Shots

First, planning ahead is important. Find out what time the sun sets in your area. You can do an online search or download and use an app like the Sunrise Sunset app available free on Google Play and free in the iTunes store. Then plan your travel time so that you arrive before the sun sets so that you can see well enough to plan your compositions and set up your tripod. 

Shoot During the Blue Hour

Once the sun sets, you can begin getting your best shots during the “blue hour.” The “blue hour” is a photography term that refers to the time after the sun goes below the horizon and the sky becomes a deep blue for a while–this can last from 10-15 minutes or even an hour or more. 

Set Your Camera White Balance

You can further enhance the blue sky of the “blue hour” by setting your camera White Balance to the Fluorescent white light setting. Although a Daylight White Balance setting can also yield good results under certain conditions. It’s best to try different settings to get the results you like best.

You can scout-out possible scenes in your area that you’d like to try to photograph at night or you can set something up in your own yard.

I made tests using two strings of white mini lights that I purchased to string up and illuminate at night to try out my camera settings and exposure times. The one below turned out good enough for me to upload to my Shutterstock portfolio and a buyer downloaded it the same day. 

Controlling Bokeh Effects in Your Image

Notice the bokeh effect or defocused lights on the right side of the image that creates a spot pattern. This is a technique very popular with photographers and microstock photo buyers.

Bokeh is a Japanese word that has to do with the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus areas of a photograph created by the lens. One of the easiest ways to create bokeh light patterns is to use your lens “wide open” –that is at the widest aperture setting, such as f2.8 or f3.5.

Bokeh light pattern–photography by Marie Kazalia

You can defocus the entire night light scene for a completely abstract pattern effect, as above.

Read the entire article and view more images here:

Source: Night Light Photography

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