Want to make photos in the dark? But not sure how to do that? Here are my tips on how to make good photos in the dark! I recently had my first night photography shoot and wanted to know how to make photos in the dark. So I did some research and found some great tips! Happy to share them with you. The sources of the tips are mentioned below.
1. Use a large aperture
When you want to take a photo in the dark you need to switch to manual (M) mode on your camera. Probably you are already in manual mode, but if not, now is the time to change! With the camera in manual mode you can change a few important things that are necessary for night photography. You can change the aperture, ISO and shutter speed. Changing the aperture to a large aperture means that more light falls through the lens on the sensor.
A small F-number stands for a large aperture. For example: F2.8 is stronger than F8. You can change the aperture with the rotation wheel on top of the camera or through the (touch) screen on the LCD display.
Do you use the kit lens? Then at Nikon and Canon you are bound to a maximum aperture of F3.5 in the wide-angle position, up to F5.6 fully zoomed. Zoom all the way out to set the aperture to F3.5, which produces more light in the dark.
2. Choose a (prime)lens with a high aperture
A good lens with a high aperture is the 50 mm F1.8, for example from Canon. This lens gives you the possibility to set the aperture very high with a lot of light coming in on the sensor.
3. Use a long shutter speed
If you increase the shutter speed, more light enters the camera on the sensor. Set it in a dark room for example at 1 or 20 seconds and you will see that suddenly there is much more light than you can see with your own eyes. Experiment a lot with this to achieve the desired result.
But watch out! A longer shutter speed also brings motion blur. With a long shutter speed, you can’t photograph by hand (your hands move too much) and your subject can’t move. The drastic extension of the shutter speed is therefore only applicable to still subjects, such as the interior of an apartment, a skyline or a landscape.
Here is a table that might help you out:
4. Increase the ISO
How to make photos in the dark when you have a high aperture and fast shutterspeed and prevent the camera from shaking? Increase the ISO.
By increasing the sensitivity of the sensor, much more light comes into the sensor and the photo. But note: the higher the ISO, the more noise. The iso value for most cameras is set to 100 as standard and every next step is a doubling of the sensitivity. (So: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 etc.)
With the cheapest cameras (and older cameras) there is already a lot of noise with an iso value of 800, because the noise reduction is not as well developed as with more expensive and more modern cameras. With the newest cameras you can safely set the ISO value to 1600 or 3200 to still get a virtually noise-free photo. Finally, the higher the iso value, the less dynamic range of colors and details in the photo. So only do this if it really can’t be otherwise.
5. Shoot in RAW
Every photographer should shoot in raw format and not in jpeg. This way you can prevent noise and you can afterwards apply your own noise reduction in Lightroom or Photoshop to remove disturbing noise, without quality loss.
6. Use the noise reduction with a slow shutter speed
If you shoot with a long shutter speed (for example, 35 seconds), then most cameras offer extra noise reduction. The camera then takes a second photo with a closed shutter immediately after the first photo, to see how much noise the sensor itself causes. This noise is then taken from the final photo. Advantage: less noise. Disadvantage: it takes twice as long to take a photo.
7. Use a tripod
Do you really want to achieve slow shutter speeds and keep the ISO as low as possible? Then use a tripod! Every small movement can cause motion blur in the photo. Even pressing the shutter release button can move the camera a bit and cause blur in the photo. Use the self-timer to prevent these small movements.
What also can be a great tip for portraits is to find your lightsource and place your subject close to it. By @marvinpdon