Imagine that you’re coming from a party with your friends, and you are happy that you captured the blushing moments with your point-and-shoot. You came home, sat down with the camera, and boom! the photos aren’t even close to your expectations! We’ve all experienced something like that when it comes to night photography with point and shoot cameras. Night photography isn’t the same thing as you do in full daylight. The anatomy of capturing great photos is different at night time. I will share some of the most important yet simple solutions to the night photography, that will take your photography skill to another level.
1. Tweak the Settings
Night photography is completely different from day photography, and it takes a different set of skills to capture the night. You should tweak the settings of the camera according to the amount of light, capturing range and the type of subject. There is less light for your camera around the subject in the night time, so you have to tweak the camera to capture more light. Tweaking the Aperture, ISO and shutter speed will help you get the result you want from your camera. All these settings demand separate values and a good balance for a better result, I will explain them in detail.
2. Try Different Shutter Speeds
Shutter speed in a digital camera refers to how fast the shutter in front of your lens opens and closes. Longer shutter speed means more amount of light into the imaging sensor. Slower shutter speed means the amount of light will be less, which is not a good thing at night. As you don’t have enough light around the subject as you have in the daylight, you need more time to capture enough light! It’s the main key to manipulate the light amount, exposure, and so many other things that make a perfect photo.
3. Use a Stable Base for Your Camera
You need a longer shutter speed, but that also comes with a trade-off! Any movement in the frame during the shutter hit will blur off! If there is a little shake to the camera, the photo will blur off and ruin the image. For a better image with longer shutter speed, you need to use a tripod or a sturdy surface where you can put the camera.
4. Use the Image Stabilization Feature
If you are capturing a night photo with super long, like 20-seconds shutter speed, you must use a tripod or stable base. But if you are going with a little longer shutter than usual, or you don’t have a tripod, or so, the image stabilization feature works for you. This feature in a camera eliminates the minor shakes from your hand and stables the image. Not all the cameras have this feature on-board, choose a Point-and-shoot Camera that comes with this feature.
The ISO in your camera refers to the sensitivity of the image sensor to the amount of light in the image you captured. Higher ISO means more light and lower for darker, but there is a delusion here. You may think that you will capture a photo with 6000 ISO in the night to capture maximum light! But if you increase the ISO, the amount of digital noise also increases with the amount of light. So, the ideal decision here is not to use ISO too much, nor too little. Rather, keep it fairly high in the night time and compensate with external light.
Aperture refers to how wide the shutter is open to light coming from the subject(s). The wider the aperture is, the more light you get on the imaging sensor and the brighter the image looks! However, Not all the cameras come with a wide aperture like f 1.7 or f 1.8 though! Even if your camera comes with a wide aperture, there is a trade-off here as well! If there are multiple persons with multiple distances to the camera, the wider aperture will get some of them out of focus! Instead, the closed ones to the camera might get the most focus.
7. White Balance
The white balance feature in your camera plays a big role when it comes to night photography. There are several selectable options for white balance, and you can tweak them according to the ambiance around the subject, such as cloudy, sunlight, so on. The Incandescent mode eliminates the reddish tint in your photos, use it if in a living room with low light. If you are taking a photo in the kitchen, it’s better to use the fluorescent mode. So, try different white balance settings to get a perfect shot during the night.
8. Use the Flash Carefully
Every point and shoot camera comes with an on-camera flash. Be careful about using the built-in flash, know when to use it, and when not to. Most of the flashlights in the cameras are fixed, and you cannot move them around, and they are very good at making red-eye. However, if you buy a camera that has a hot shoe flash unit, you can use it by pointing the flash towards the ceiling. It will help you reduce the direct light on the subject and make an ambient light instead!
9. Use a Diffuser and a Reflector
If you need to use a flashlight anyway, make sure you use a light diffuser to cut off the direct light upon the subject. The diffuser will help you make a smooth transition to the shadow and the highlights and take an image without burning it. If your subject is not getting enough light, get a light reflector to get more light on the subject and smooth the transition. A piece of white paper will do the job, but try to get a professional 5-in-1 reflector for the sake of perfection!
When it comes to night photography, it’s all about manipulating the lights and reducing the amount of grain. Some things I would like to mention again, such as Practice the custom white balance option and compare your captures with the once you took with auto white balance. If you buy a professional reflector, get one with a translucent white panel inside, which works both as a diffuser and a light bouncer.