Flash control

One obvious way to cope with low levels of light is to add more. Electronic flash is built in to most cameras for this purpose. It is useful when photographing people indoors and out, but less effective for general night photography. First, the power of the flash is too low to illuminate street scenes or general views. Second, the attraction of many night scenes is their existing illumination – adding further light will often ruin the atmosphere.



Many cameras automatically fire the flash by default in low light. If you are serious about night photography you should switch the flash off. Compact digital cameras usually have an ‘Off’ setting for the built-in flash – check your user manual for details on your camera. EOS cameras only activate the flash automatically in the Full Auto (green square), portrait and macro shooting modes – avoid these for night photography.

Exposure time
Night exposure can be a tricky business. There are often large dark areas in the scene, with a few bright areas. The auto exposure metering system of your camera can get confused and give an image that is too light or too dark. This is not really a problem with digital cameras. You can take the picture using auto exposure and view the image on the LCD. If the exposure is not correct, simply apply exposure compensation and shoot again.

Most cameras offer exposure compensation in the range of +2 to -2 stops. If the first image looks too dark, apply +1 or +2 stops of compensation. Use -1 or -2 stops of compensation if the image is too light. You can experiment with different settings until the image you take appears to have the correct exposure.

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Tutorials

Black and White Photography
Action Photography
Christmas Portrait Photography
Night Photography
Autumn Photography
Urban Landscape Photography