I took this shot during our workshop in Australia. I gave away my f/2.8 lens so a student could follow along with the workflow we were presenting – so my settings were different from the others in the group… but no worries. Keep an eye on your histogram, and don’t be afraid of experimentation. Here are my basic tips for night photography.
1. Get your focus right. Your auto-focus won’t work in the dark, but a flashlight should give you the light you need to set your focus. Take a test shot and zoom way in to check so you don’t find yourself with a bunch of blurred photos when you’re done! I stood and held the flashlight for 15 minutes or more while everyone set their focus. It took some time since we were making sure everyone was on the same page.
2. Light Painting is fun – and I think it might be even more fun with a large group! 🙂 We all released our shutters at the same time, and then Jay and I took turns moving the light across the rocks in front of us. We took a whole lot of shots… some were too bright, and some were too dark. Just keep experimenting until you get something you like!
3. Pay attention to your histogram – but don’t expect a neat “bell curve”. You are working with very dark tones, so you should see a peak on the left side of the histogram. You probably won’t see much on the right side of your histogram unless you really go crazy with the light painting. 🙂
4. Use a wide-open aperture, and keep your shutter speed under 20 seconds or so. A longer shutter speed will result in short star trails. (If you WANT star trails, you’ll need a series of 30-second exposures.) You’ll need to bump up your ISO to get the aperture and shutter speed you want… so you’ll probably want to clean up some noise in post.
Here are a couple of other night shots from other locations:
Have you been out shooting at night? Share your suggestions and experiences in the comments! And have fun out there!