After The Sun Sets

Night time photography is pretty special to me. There is a certain type of satisfaction in imagining how the camera is going to see a scene as opposed to how the human eye sees a scene. Sometimes the result is just a happy accident. Certainly there is a lot of trial and error.

One of the best things about late night photography though is there usually isn’t any rush (unless you are somewhere sketchy). The light will often stay mostly the same (to an extent) so you can shoot and shoot until your heart desires. Changing settings and extensive chimping ensues. Usually I have a destination in mind, but sometimes putting on a good CD and hitting the road works too.

Colours that you never knew were there emerge in the sky and water. Objects are lit up by flashguns or torches. Vehicles leave vivid streaks across your canvas. Nighttime is indeed magical for the camera. After a couple of shots going your way, it’s easy to become addicted to looking for good night scenes. Cities are not the be all and end all either. Neon strips and lit areas do appeal, but a swamp at night still has a lot of potential, you may just need to play with ways to make your own light.

Night time photography requires a certain way of thinking, you need to open your mind to new ways of seeing places and objects. How are they lit? How could they be lit? How will the camera see this over a minute long exposure? You may not see it at first, but with some practice and experimentation you can start to bend your mind around the concept.

The best way to start is if you have friends that are keen to try too, or if there is a group of photographers you can meet up with in your area. It’s great to have someone to have a yarn with as there can be a lot of waiting around with long exposures, and three minutes can seem like a very long time if you are by yourself. Although sometimes the peace can be welcoming.

If you are anything like me, normally you will triple check all your camera gear but forget the basics. Not having a light makes setting up the camera and pressing buttons quickly. And nothing kills a photo session quicker than not bringing warm enough clothes. Coffee helps a lot too.

Thinking about it, I think the very first lens cap I lost was a night meetup with the Wellington Flickr group…

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