We have all been there...you look over your pictures and they all start looking the same. We run around town, with the same camera, same point of view and obviously our pictures start to seem similar. This is why I try to do a little night photography on every vacation, just a handful of images taken in the dead of night. These help break me out of my routine and adds a little spice to my travel shots.
The picture above was taken with a Nikon D800 in Cambridge. It is a 30 second exposure with a wonderfully wide 14-24mm lens. The people in the photo were two groups of friends who ran into each other coming back from a party. The stood there for a few seconds catching up. I am a sucker for an photo with an umbrella in it!
Speaking to friends it seems few people really shoot at night which is a real pity. It is easy to do and gives your photos a bit of something special. So for those of you who have never ventured out, give it a go. Below is a little cook book on how to do it and as you can see the gear is pretty basic.
Camera (digital or film)
Lens (does not have to be fast, any lens will do)
Shoot in RAW if digital
Set your camera to your native ISO (usually 100 or 200).
Set your camera to aperture priority or manual
Set your aperture to f/8
Let your camera suggest a shutter speed or set it yourself (20-30 sec)
White balance is always an issue on night shots. Different lights will have different temperatures but that is what makes it so colorful. I select a bright spot and correct for it. I then touch the sliders a bit to get a nice temperature.
Noise should not be an issue but do not try to increase the exposure too much. The objective is to have a night shot, not a shot at night looking like day.
Keep in Mind:
Movement will be an issue. It can be wonderful but it can be problematic. Trees, moving in the wind will look fuzzy. People walking by will be invisible or ghost like. If properly composed the movement can be beautiful.
The shot below was captured on film with a Nikon F3 camera. I used my digital camera to meter the scene and then I set it and fired away. I love the image below as ti captures all the mystery of Disney World in a wonderful monochrome.
You will read about film reciprocity however I never have worried about it. I meter the scene and get it fairly close and fire away. Give it a try...worst case you burn a bit of film!