15 EASY TIPS FOR PHOTOGRAPHING STUNNING CITIES AT NIGHT

I have always thought that a city is not fully known until it is also visited at night. From the first and bustling night hours where people leave work and go home, with streets and buses crowded with people, noise, and accelerated steps, to those who go out to dinner slowly, impregnating those same places of different fragrances in streets increasingly empty and lonely. Or later still, when those who return late do so by pressing the step or enjoying the loneliness of the night while most sleep, while blind windows watch them quietly. Like its inhabitants, the city is transformed as the night hours progress. From the noise to silence, from movement to stillness, from agglomeration to loneliness ... And as a photographer, all those moments offer you different images, different stories and great photographic opportunities

1. CONTROL THE EXPOSURE

The contrast between lighted and shaded areas is very pronounced in night photography, so it is not easy to obtain an image correctly exposed to the first. Ideally, you should work the adjustments in manual , and perform several tests until the appropriate result is obtained.
  • Check the Histogram after the shots to ensure good exposure; What we see on the screen is not always “reliable”, it will depend on the resolution and its characteristics, while the histogram “does not deceive”.
  • If you want a correct exposure in all lights, I recommend that you use the “Bracketing” or “ Bracketing ” that combines 3 or more photographs with different exposures (-1, 0, +1 for example) to obtain a correct exposure in all lights, and then "add them".
Control exposure

2. FOCUS MANUALLY

If you want to ensure the focus, the ideal is that you do it manually, since the absence of light makes your camera's autofocus work very difficult.

3. USE A GOOD DEPTH OF FIELD

If what you want are general images of the city, it is best to work with a high depth of field to have more area focused on the image. This will be achieved by closing the diaphragm to values such as F11 or F16.

4. ISO

If you are looking for a night image that retains sharpness, you cannot abuse the ISO, since the higher the ISO value, the greater the noise in the image. So, unless you look for noise for its artistic effect, the ideal is that whenever you can keep it at low values, or at least at acceptable quality values within the range that your camera offers (each camera behaves differently before ISO values).

5. USE A TRIPOD

The tripod is indispensable in any type of photography where you expect light shortage or look sharp. The use of a good tripod will help you keep those ISO values mentioned in the previous point low, while you can shoot at slow speeds avoiding the movement that comes from the camera.
  • Use a remote shutter or, failing that, your camera's self - timer to avoid trepidations caused by pressing the shutter.
Don't forget the tripod

6. ADJUST WHITE BALANCE

The different lights that you can find in a night urban landscape, can make your image “dye” with the color that some of these lights transmit. For example, tungsten lights, stain the image of a warm shade or the fluorescent ones of a greenish hue. You can use the white balance as another artistic effect, or modify it to eliminate the dominant tone of the image.

 7. SHOOT IN RAW

The RAW format will not only allow you to make small exposure adjustments without affecting the quality of your image, but will allow you to skip point 6 in reference to the White Balance and / or will facilitate and improve the transformation of the image to black and white .
  • It allows small exposure adjustments without affecting image quality.
  • You can forget the white balance.
  • It is the best way to convert images to black and white .

8. MOVEMENT AND CREATIVITY

If you cannot with your enemy, join him : As much as you use all the means at your disposal to avoid movement, you will hardly get it if what you have in front of you is a scene with low light and moving objects or people. So, instead of despairing or missing great scenes, take advantage of this movement to give a creative touch to your images.
  • Long exposure : not only will it allow you to correctly expose dimly lit scenes, but you can portray the passing of the movement.
  • Water silk effect : Take advantage of the movement to capture this interesting effect in areas with moving water as decorative fountains in your city.
Take advantage of movement and long exposure to achieve images like this

9. THE BOKEH

Taking advantage of the lights that the city offers you, you can achieve this artistic effect simply by playing with the opening of the diaphragm and the lights. Here is an article that explains step by step how to get it.
The lights, the diaphragm, and the Bokeh effect

10. REFLEXES

Another way to portray a city is through the reflection of it. If you have a river, a fountain or even a puddle on the ground, don't ignore it and think about how you can integrate it to enrich your image.

 11. THE BLUE HOUR

A classic of urban photography is the use of the moments known as "Blue Hour", which combines the remains of natural light and the first night lights of the city. The blue hour gives us images with skies of intense blue that at the same time contrast with the multicolored lights of any city at nightfall.
Cities and blue hour

12. LOOK FOR A GOOD OVERVIEW

An elevated and quiet place where you can plan your framing, plant your tripod, perform your tests, etc., is ideal to get a good overview of the city.

13. SEARCH FOR NEW SCENARIOS

Do not limit yourself to the typical panoramic scenes, dare to close the frame and look for new and original compositions in different corners of your city.
  • Practice with different optics depending on the type of image you want to achieve.
  • Play with the lines and geometry in your compositions
  • Play with the lights and shadows
  • Vary the point of view and perspective
Play with different lines, geometry and perspectives

14. DON'T FORGET PEOPLE

Do not forget that the essence of any city is the people that give it life. You can take very interesting night images with some street photography . Forget the tripod if you are looking for mobility and discretion, dare to raise the ISO or play with the movement and energy that the moving images give off.

15. DO NOT LEAVE COMMON SENSE AT HOME

That is, be careful with what cities and places. No one better than you knows your city, so much common sense The night is the other half of a city's life, and the scenes, sensations and opportunities it provides us are unique. We can portray silence, loneliness, energy, emptiness, bustle, mystery or fear just by walking around equipped camera in hand. We always talk about the importance of explaining stories in photography, right? The night is full of them, of windows lit in dark buildings, of silence, of an emptiness that is accentuated in a stage where moments before life boiled, like the courtyard of a school on summer vacations, so abnormally empty and silent . Although, unfortunately, not all cities allow night walks, there is always an opportunity to go to one that does allow it at least once in a lifetime, so I hope this article will be useful for you at least that time And if Do you think someone else may be interested in these tips to get great night images of cities, please share it on Google+, Facebook or Twitter. And as always, thanks and until next time
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