A shot in the dark

Shooting in limited light raises technical challenges as well as composition. For low light photography, we will need to use a tripod, the heavier the better. If your tripod is a light weight travel model, use a weight suspended from the bottom of the tripod to add stability. Make sure that the weight cannot swing if there is any wind as this will create vibration, allowing the weight to just touch the ground works well. Other technical concerns centre around increased noise from high ISO and sensor heating. High ISO brings increasing levels of noise to an image, but we have to live with it. Sensor heating from very long exposures, say 1 minute or more, creates noise artifacts. Many digital cameras have a setting that can cancel out long exposure noise, the downside is that the camera must make two exposures for every image, one to capture the image and one to capture noise on a black background, the two being blended to cancel the noise effectively.

Shooting at night brings many new composition possibilities. Potential subjects include:

  • Light trails
  • City lights
  • Lanterns
  • Astronomical
  • Star trails
  • Moon
  • Milky Way

•Some people call this “available light” photography


The Pearl Tower in Shanghai, China – 2018. ISO 1600, 142mm, f 2.8, 1/125, handheld.


Downtown Calgary, 2007. ISO 100, 36mm, f 22, 40 seconds, tripod


Lanterns in Hanoi, Vietnam, 2018. ISO 3200, 70mm, f 4, 1/350 sec handheld.


Harvest moon near Calgary, 2007. ISO 500, 150mm f 5, 1/250 sec. Tripod


The Milky Way from Hornby Island 2015. ISO 6400, 24mm, f 4, 30 seconds, tripod.

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