Cameras are not just for sunny days, high days and holidays. They are for use all year round, at any time of the day or night and this is the perfect time of the year to use it on the streets and after dark.
I suppose that if you want to do this properly, you really need to give it a great deal of thought, work out exactly what want from the shoot, plan your locations and equip yourself with a tripod, cable release or remote control and half a dozen other “useful” accessories ………………….. but to hell with that. Just get out there and shoot stuff!
London is a fantastic place for night photography, although calling it night photography is a bit of a misnomer, sometimes twilight is the best time as the residual light gives some definition to the sky and helps to make the subject stand out from its background. Look around you as the light begins to fail and you will soon see suitable subjects appearing just about everywhere. Buildings illuminated either internally or externally. Featured lighting and at this time of year, in particular, Christmas decorations. Reflections in windows or on shiny surfaces and, of course, the river and its environs.
Start out just by using your camera’s auto setting and see how things work out. Then move on to trying the various program options.. Virtually every camera will have a night option, an obvious starting point, but try the other settings too. This is digital, you are not going to do the camera any harm, it won’t cost you anything and you can delete all of the pics that just don’t work.
A tripod is, of course, the ideal accessory for this kind of photography. As the light fails, shutter speeds inevitably get longer, and equally inevitably shaky hands begin to come into play, particularly as the weather gets colder. As useful as tripods are, they are a bit of a pain to haul around with you. Very often you can get away with hand holding (try breathing in deeply and slowly exhaling as you release the shutter, it sounds strange, but it really can help!). Otherwise try wedging yourself into a corner, resting your elbows on a wall or actually resting the camera on a solid surface. A small bean bag (either a purpose made item or a home made job) or even a rolled up wooly hat or a pair of gloves will help you to move the camera around to enable you to frame the shot properly. Just use a little imagination and try different ideas, you will eventually find what suits you. A small point to remember if you are shooting on a bridge is that bridges move and this movement will result in the blurring of your photograph. As heavy traffic passes you will feel the vibration under your feet just wait a few seconds until that traffic has passed. And then fire off the shot.
It is also worth considering what you intend to do with the photograph. If you only need small or low res images you can get away with a lot more than if you intend you intend to print at large sizes or view at full screen on a decent sized monitor.
The best thing to do is just try it. You’ll get some good shots and you’ll get some very bad shots but when you’ve had a few decent ones you may well find yourself hooked.
For more night shots click here