Urban Night Photography: Subject Appreciation

The great thing about night photography is that you are given subjects that appear a lot more interesting at night than they are in the morning. At morning it looks like just a commonplace, and you are always challenged with changing sun rays and daytime light. Places that appear uninteresting at morning looks a lot more different at night, and especially urban scenes that are lit in fundamentally different ways that our eyes are not used to. It just looks so much different and mesmerizing.

Although it is really hard to find a good subject and detail at night, and you might not know what subjects can be great to photograph, or you may overlook what could have been a great scenes and subjects around you.

Minding the gap. A common visual warning or phrase that we usually see at train stations to take precaution when there is a gap. It is also applicable in photography in a sense that you have to try to cross that gap and see what happens or what great scenery you can get by braving it and experimenting.


The recent opening of Light and Music Show at Ayala Triangle offers a great opportunity to try and capture something that can be far better than what it is at morning. The previous shots above requires a good timing to get the right color and effect that you are aiming for. For this shots, I set my camera to f/3.5, exposure time to 1/25 and ISO to 160, you also need to have a steady hand and a lot of patience for there are too many movements.


Don’t overlook the shots of individual buildings which will surprise you at how certain buildings look at night, be on the lookout with the ones with interesting lights, blends and effects that is rare or uncommon. Look for something that is a departure from the rule book, a breaking off from the usual boring design and the not so contemporary. Don’t just look for very brightly lit buildings as it will produce too much noise and light pollution to your composition.


Hallways and pathwalks are wonders with a row of lamps, ceiling lights and streetlights, and it will often make a great subject and can also be a way to accentuate or make something more prominent a picture of something else. There is just something that brings a different mood when you look at the narrowly placed lights


To achieve this kind of mood in your pictures, you need to stop down your aperture to a very minimal setting, like f/2.8, and then you can set your exposure to 1/60 or somewhere near that value.


Capturing movement is something that many photographers only think to do when they are photographing fast moving subjects. While there is an obvious opportunity in sports photography to emphasize the movements, it is almost every type of photography can benefit from the emphasis of movement in a shot, even if there is a small movement or just slow.


The reason for movement blur is simply that the amount of time that the shutter of a camera is open is long enough to allow your camera’s image sensor to see the movement of your subject. So the number one tip in capturing movement in an image is to select a longer shutter speed, just like with the shot above as the vehicles are passing by.

On the next post, I will be discussing the importance of perspective, lighting and ways on finding great views. A night takes up half of our everyday life. Further, it is often easier to get out and shoot at night because most of our work and family obligations take place during the morning so plan it well, get out and let your creativity do the work.

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