Night photography presents a number of challenges. While the trees are bright enough to get a snapshot with a camera, to get truly high quality pictures I took the steps detailed below. These worked for me in the situation, but they aren’t set rules. Actually I would be interested to know if anyone disagrees or has additional tips.
1. Use a tripod. Because I used longer exposure times, I used a tripod. This is an absolute must in order to enable long exposure times without blur. When do you need a tripod? One rule I have heard and it works as a good rule of thumb most of the time is: 1/focal length is the slowest shutter speed you can use without blur. If your focal length is 80, then you shouldn’t set your shutter speed to slower than 1/80.
2. Remote shutter release and mirror lock. In order to prevent the triggering of the shutter I used a remote control shutter release and also locked the mirror of my DLSR after framing the photo. This means that the motion of the mirror being moved won’t disturb the picture, nor with the pressing of the button.
3. Open aperture. I find that night photography looks better with an open aperture. By letting more light in, you not only reduce the required shutter speed, but also increase the color range. Some disagree with this, and of course a wide angle shot like this would work at a very wide aperture, but on this shoot I found that between 4 and 4.6 worked well.
4. Low ISO. I kept the ISO at 100 to give minimal noise. The price you pay is that the exposure times were longer, but with a tripod and remote release – and the peace and quiet in the park – this wasn’t a problem.
5. Long exposure – I experimented with 10-30 second exposures. I found that usually the 10-15 second range came out the best under these conditions. Due to the high wind and long exposure, the clouds came out blurry. I like the effect, but it is something you may need to consider when deciding on settings.
Camera: Canon 600D
Lens: EF-S 15-85 at 15 mm
Shutter Speed: 13 sec