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Tips for Taking Night Time photos

Night photos of Miami, San Francisco, and the Southwest USA

It has been my experience that night photos are often not taken by backpackers and travelers. Sometimes they do try, only to produce a blurry image of streaks and shakes. Then giving up assuming they can't do it with there equipment. It's actually quite easy and with a bit of practice, most cameras can take decent photos at night.

Night photos require a camera that can sustain longer shutter speeds and a very solid tripod or base to prop the camera against. If you don't take night photos because you don't know how, then it's time to get out your manual and open a whole new time of day for your photos. It's a lot of fun and will turn your hobby onto a new light.

Here's a couple tips for night photography
For starters, you need a slow shutter speed to let in more light so you get the proper exposure.

San Francisco Bay at Night

San Francisco, California - The city by the bay, San Francisco, California. This photo was taken from the Northwest side of the bridge.

It is very important to get a great vantage point for night photos. You are also working with available light so try to find various lights coming from various places. Here we have lights from the bridge, traffic, city and the night sky. It's also nice to have a recognizable feature in the photo so it isn't just a "bunch of lights".

Miami Skyline at night

Miami, Florida - Look for colors. These colors of the bridge lights don't stand out very much when you see it in person, but after having a 10 second exposure, the purple really comes out. This is one of my favorite photos of the Miami Skyline.

There are some more great examples of night photos on Miami's world famous South Beach.
You can also buy the Miami Skyline photo print.

Monument Valley Utah at night photography

Monument Valley, Utah - If you have ever been to Monument Valley at the border of Arizona and Utah, then you know what the sunsets are like. It is a colorful explosion washing the sky of its normal blues and grays. You can drive for hours in the vast open fields and not feel like you've gained any ground. Then after the sun goes down and you know that this is one of Americas great natural wonders. More Monument Valley Photos

With night photography, you must be resourceful. In Utah, I didn't have a tripod so I used the hood of the car. If the surface is not level, then put a shirt or jacket between the car and the camera to level it. Look for lots of color. With the longer exposure in your camera, you can really saturate your photos with available colors.

Reflections are great for night photos. Here are 3 examples of reflections and the effect they have on the light. Photography is all about the light, so use natural objects to reflect that light into your camera. Speaking of reflections, you also notice the city lights bouncing off the clouds above? Look for cool cloud formations above buildings when your in a city and see what effect that has on your photos.

Fort Lauderdale Florida intracoastal waterway

Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Fort Lauderdale is the yacht capital of the world. This photo was taken from Pelican Lounge, a small bar across from a well known restaurant, 15th Street Fisheries.

The most important tip is to practice a lot of different settings. Try different exposure times and f-stops. See what works and what doesn't. If you have a DSLR, you can leave a long exposure and zoom in real fast. What does that look like? It is an open palette.

Fort Lauderdale Florida at night on the intercoastal

While in Fort Lauderdale, you can take the water taxi to over a dozen locations on the intercoastal waterway. Each of the stops is near restaurants, shops or the beaches of Fort Lauderdale.

Irelands dilapedated condo and the hilfiger condos

This place is creepy. It used to be Irelands, a resort complex in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Now it is just an old building which probably has squatters and ghosts and ghosts who squat.
Here you see the reflections don't always have to be in a large body of water. This large puddle could even be used to say that the abandoned Irelands is reflecting upon itself in the shadow of newer, bigger and better condos of today. Let your night photos tell their own story.

Night photography is a lot of fun and the challenges it brings can be just the ticket to spark new ideas and images you haven't yet considered.

Mike In AlaskaAbout the Author
Mike has been working and traveling abroad since 2005. Recent trips include 12 months in Australia, a month in China and another in Europe followed by a six week USA road trip. Mike isn't rich, just resourceful in finding work abroad. In additon to providing free information on working abroad, and travel photography for sale online, Mike is also available for speaking engagements on the benefits of world travel.

The world is too amazing not to share.


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