I enjoy the challenge of taking timed exposure shots at night. Like the one on the left of the old Melbourne Ferris Wheel or the one below of the gardens at the Lakeside Country Club at Numurkah in Victoria.
There are many variables to consider with night photography because the camera has difficulty setting itself in the dark.
The most important elements are focus – which often needs to be done manually; the length of exposure required to get the right amount of light; the aperture needed to get the depth of field right; and where any bright lights are that could overpower the rest of the image. Sometimes the latter are hard to avoid, so compromises might have to be made.
A tripod, or something to place the camera on, is vital when shooting at night. A small bean bag can be useful if you don’t have a tripod, to help steady the camera when placed on uneven surfaces.
Trial and error (usually a lot of error) are necessary. Being prepared to take a lot of shots on different settings always helps in photography, whether it is day or night, but is especially necessary at night.
Taking moving traffic at night always produces interesting effect, especially when there is a lot of traffic, but even just a few vehicles can give interesting results – such as in the photo on the right taken at a fairly quiet cross road in Port Macquarie.
Lightning can be a real challenge; the secret is to put the camera into manual and leave the shutter open for a long time, 30 seconds to a minute or more, depending on the surrounding light. Sometimes you get nothing but you just need to keep doing it until the big flashes occur. Of course, sometimes you may get multiple flashes in one photo, which always looks spectacular. You can see some lightning examples in my ‘Night Work’ gallery.