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How to photograph at night without a tripod?


How to photograph at night without a tripod?


In winter, night falls very quickly. It’s often the occasion to do night photography a little by obligation, but I hope especially by passion! The night is a time when you should not forget to take your camera out. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily need a tripod for that. Explanations…

It’s winter, it’s cold, night falls quickly… In short, not quite the ideal time to take your camera out ! But you shouldn’t see winter as an off-season for photography. On the contrary, it’s a different season that allows you to do things you wouldn’t do otherwise. An urban landscape by night or by day is totally different.

Night photography allows you to play excessively with light and shadows, it’s a field that I particularly like. I’ll give you some tips to make your night photos a success. But I ask you a small favor… Don’t use the night mode of your camera. This mode is there to avoid making you think…

Even if the night mode is useful for troubleshooting, it is not the only way to get beautiful pictures at night without blurring them. You will often be advised to use a tripod that will allow you to stay at ISO 100 and have a picture without any noise.

But there is not only one way to practice night photography, and fortunately not only at night!

This type of night photography will require a special attention on the light present on the scene you are photographing. It is not impossible to photograph very dark, black areas, and others illuminated by street lamps. The measurement of the light of the camera will tend to make an average. The average between white (light) and black (no light) is represented by gray. We don’t necessarily want our night images to be grey, hence the importance of measuring the light.

To make interesting night images, I recommend that you use your camera in Av or A mode, i.e. in aperture priority mode. This means that you will have to set the aperture of your lens preferably to its most open value. Example: with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens set at 18mm, you will have to turn the knob to 3.5. Your camera will then automatically determine the shutter speed to be applied according to the amount of light present.

So, when you move the camera around the scene, the shutter speed will automatically adjust.

Read More : 10 tips for photographing your family

It is a good idea not to choose a shutter speed that is too low, because too low is often referred to as motion blur. This blur can be corrected by a stabilized optics, but it is better to pay attention to the shutter speed, because it allows you to freeze the movement. To do this, you can of course change the ISO sensitivity of your camera. You can set it to 1600, 3200 or more, depending on the capabilities of your APN. It is better not to skip the steps and directly put the highest sensitivity because the quality of the photo will suffer.

How can I find a shutter speed that is sufficient to guarantee a sharp picture? It’s easy…

It is often said that the right shutter speed is the focal length/speed equivalent. So with an 18mm, it should be at least 1/18s. But don’t forget that our APS-C / DX sensors undergo a multiplying coefficient close to 1.5, it will finally be necessary to be at 1/27s (18×1.5=27). All this is quite theoretical and also depends on you. Everyone will have more or less ease to stay stable when taking the picture. You can hold your breath for example to compensate, and even lean on a wall. It is preferable to give yourself a little security; at 18mm, it is good to be around 1/50s. Then everyone makes his own measurements and applies the rule to his own sauce.

Still in aperture priority mode, you can even choose to accentuate the effect between night and light by taking a light measurement on the lights of a scene (SPOT measurement). This will plunge into total darkness which is not close to this light source and give a dramatic side to a photographed scene.

Night photography is best done with a bright optic, i.e. with an aperture of at least 2.8, or even much smaller (1.4 or 1.8) in order to capture as much light as possible. One can find at each manufacturer an inexpensive 50mm, which makes it possible to devote itself to this practice without restriction. The best is to have a reflex or an advanced hybrid with a large sensor. You can also use expert compact cameras.

The tendency will be rather to trust the measurements of the camera because the manufacturer has developed an “intelligent” program (yes, yes, he says so!) in order to find the right parameters. But a program, no matter how good it is, will never be able to automatically determine the settings to reproduce the effect you are looking for. It will also be necessary to pay attention to the focusing because with little light, the autofocus can be hesitant. It is preferable to focus manually.

One more thing. Prefer the RAW or RAW+JPEG format for this type of photo. RAW will allow you to catch up with photos that are at the limit, or to refine the subtle result you are trying to achieve.

With digital, the field of possibilities is infinite! This is the time to get in the water and practice!