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Low Light - Photography tips on getting the best night shots

Low Light

The nights are drawing in. The shorts are put away and the trousers are on more often than not now. The summer is over – in the northern hemisphere at least, but that shouldn’t stop the photography. Indeed there’s no need to get up at 3:00am to do the dawn shoots which makes things easier. At the other end of the day we can cover the dusk and be in the pub for 6:00pm! Okay, it may not be warm enough for T shirts as in this image taken in Cannes a few weeks ago, and getting out from under the duvet may be tough when the windows are frosty, but there’s no need to put the camera away just yet. With the low light, a tripod and some patience, some images with real impact can be captured. Add in some wet pavements and coloured lights to the mix and a really stunning image may be made.

So where do you start? As ever, research. Towns and cities are good. Bridges over roundabouts and if you have a river, pond or fountain, all the better. Consider what you want in and what to leave out of the frame. Look at the patterns of traffic, be they vehicles or pedestrians, they can all be used to beneficial effect. The flashing yellow indicators of a car going round a roundabout ands another dimension to the more usual red and white lights.

Once you’ve found the location, get there early and make sure that you do not cause an obstruction and let someone know where you are going. Set up the tripod and camera with the composition framed. Ideally you should be in position a good hour before sunset so that you can follow the changing light through. The idea of using a tripod is to minimise movement for the long exposures. To that end, use a remote release or the cameras timer delay to release the shutter so that you are not touching the camera. Also, if you have it, use the mirror lock up setting if your using an SLR camera to again minimise any camera movement, then play. You will find that the best pictures will probably come while there is still colour in the sky, but do watch your exposure. Have fun, I do.