Sep 28, 2018

Night time photography has become a craze amongst photographers. The quality of your night time photographs depend on your knowledge of photography more than anything else. Most of us are concerned about the equipment. In fact some of us tend to believe that night photography should only be done when one has acquired high quality camera gear. While a high quality gear really helps, great night shots can be captured with basic cameras too. Apart from your knowledge of photography, there are a few gadgets that can help you in getting cool night shots. Let us look at the camera gear for night time photography.


1)   The tripod:

The tripod is the most important accessory in night photography. The maximum weight bearing capacity of the tripod should be more than twice the weight of your camera gear. For further stability, suspend additional weights from the middle leg of your tripod. Since night photography involves shooting in difficult lighting conditions, the shutter speeds will be on the slower side. Thus shooting handheld can be very difficult. Thus the camera needs to be mounted on a tripod while shooting. Use of tripods and monopods results in very sharp shots. There are other ways to stabilize your shots too in case you are not able to carry a tripod. There are photography bean bags that can lend stability to your setup. For low angle shots, some photographers tend to keep their cameras on the ground as well. Although there are some alternate solutions, none are as efficient and effective as the tripod. If you are keen on shooting a lot of ground level shots, make sure that your tripod has a removable middle leg. If the middle leg is not removable you will not be able to get down to the ground level. Gorilla pods are also quite useful since they are light weighted and portable. Smartphone photography with the use of gorilla pods is also increasing day by day. Remember that a tripod is must if you are operating at shutter speeds slower than 1/80th of a second. In case you are using very heavy gear, you may require a tripod even when shooting at 1/100th of a second. If you are doing night photography with a heavy telephoto lens, use of a tripod is going to mandatory.

2)   Flashlight:

While there are disadvantages of using a flash light in night photography, the advantages are worth looking at. With the virtual absence of light in certain conditions, flash lights are your saving grace. The problem with flash is that it makes a photograph look unnatural if not used properly. Do not fire the flash straight at the subject’s face. You need to have the flash set up at an angle and bounce it off a reflector on to the face of the subject. A reflector will not only help to bounce the light but will also soften the light and make the portrait look more natural. You can also have the 3 point lighting setup with 3 external flashes if you have the bandwidth for the same. The 3 flashes will fire simultaneously but at different intensities to serve the purposes for key light, fill light and rim light. Flash light can be used to create a high key night portrait as well.

3)   Intervalometer:

An intervalometer is a very simple device that allows the camera to take multiple shots at fixed time intervals, remotely. Since the intervalometer allows you to control the camera from a distance, the chances of shakes due to hand-camera contact is minimal. Intervalometer can be used to create time lapses. Calculate the total number of shots you need to capture in order to make a certain time lapse video. Input the number of shots in to the intervalometer and specify the time interval. Once you start the process, the camera will go on clicking the images one after the other with the specific time interval in between. Intervalometer can come in handy while taking long exposure shots as well. The minimum shutter speed in most dslrs is around 30 seconds. You can further slow it down by switching the camera to bulb mode and specifying the shutter speed in the intervalometer.

4)   Neutral density filter:

A neutral density filter or ND filter is actually used to reduce the amount of light entering the camera sensor. It is a filter that is attached to the front of the lens. ND filters are denoted by stops. For example a 2 stop ND filter will reduce the amount of light entering the camera by 2 stops. This means you have to adjust your exposure parameters by 2 stops to get back the original exposure. ND filters are used in long exposure photography. If you wish to capture the perfect reflection or the traffic light trails at night, you may require a ND filter. This enables you to use a slower shutter speed and thereby capture the motion blur. For example, if you are shooting a scene at a shutter speed of 1/30th of a second with the ISO set at 100 (minimum) and aperture at f/22 (minimum), using a 2 stop ND filter will allow you to use a shutter speed of 1/8th of a second instead.

5)   Lens hood:

A lens hood is the plastic extension that is attached at the front of the lens to protect the lens from lens flares. It is also used to protect the lens from scratches. In night photography, there may be multiple glaring sources of lights coming in from different directions. This can cause several unwanted lens flares. A lens hood prevents such a scenario since the extension blocks those light rays from hitting the lens from unwanted angles.