night photography techniques

Night Photography Techniques

Night Photography Camera Settings

Night photography techniques revolve around your shutter speed setting. One of the benefits of learning shutter speed is that you can venture out shoot photography in low light settings. In conditions that other photographers may skip over.

Shutter speed settings at night are usually measured in full seconds. Three, five, ten, twenty seconds or more. This differs from other genres of photography where fractions of a seconds are “normal”. (1/80th, 1/100th, 1/500th).

When Is a Good Time to Slow Down Your Shutter Speed?

The Answer: When there isn’t a whole lot of available light.

Expose your photograph over a longer period of time and let more light find the camera sensor.

Where To Begin

ISO – 100 (Or Lower).

In general, start with the lowest ISO setting your camera is capable of. Most cameras can go as low as ISO 100. Some even lower.

SHUTTER SPEED – 10 Seconds. The whole idea is to slow your shutter speed down to catch the available light. Even if there isn’t much of it. Depending on the light and your location, you can experiment with different lengths of time for different results.

APERTURE – f/16. Since you’re getting lots of light reach your sensor with slower shutter speeds, a closed-up aperture setting will work well. f/16 is a good place to start. Remember to experiment with this setting too!

Use A Tripod For Night Photography

Trying to take a handheld shot with slow shutter photography is pretty much impossible. Your body moves, your hands shake, you breathe in and out! You will end up with motion blur.

For night photography techniques, use a tripod to stabilize your camera. Making it possible for a sharp, well-focused image.

Use Your Wallet Or Anything Stable

No tripod. No problem!

You will be surprised at what you can use to stabilize your shot. Rest your camera on a wallet. Set your camera on top of a trash bin. Lay it on the ground. The point is not to handhold your shot. Use anything that’s available!

Use a Remote Shutter Release

When you hit the shutter button with your finger, your camera will shake a little bit. Just enough to blur a long exposure shot. Even if your camera is on a tripod.

Try using a remote shutter release (off-camera button). Most manufacturers have affordable off-camera triggers available. Some manufacturers have phone apps that make it possible to trigger a photograph from your phone!

Use A Timer

No remote? No problem!

You can get the same results by using the timer function on your camera. You can press the shutter and give your camera a few seconds to settle down before the shot is taken. Most modern cameras have a timer. Take a minute and scroll through your menu to find it.

TIP – Find A Stationary Focal Point In Your Scene

Include something in your shot that isn’t moving. You may be able to use it as a focal point. The contrast between things that are moving (cars, lights, stars, airplanes) and things that are standing still (buildings, mountains, trees) can anchor an image and make it great.


I know a few photographers that shoot ONLY at night. They walk around with a camera and tripod looking for great scenes. Have fun with this artistic style of photography!