Night Photographs can be dramatic shots that you will treasure. It is also one of the most difficult types of photography you can do. It will be trial and error at first and until you get familiar with taking pictures of this type.
It would be best if you could use a camera which allows for manual adjustments. You will need the flexibility.
Dramatic Night Photographs Take Preparation and Timing
Prepare in advance when you are going to shoot at night. Know when the sun will be setting and when the moon will rise. Plan where you will be doing your nighttime shooting. Check the weather reports so you can decide if you want to go or not.
At dusk, if the moon is out, you might want to include both the sun and the moon in your photograph. Having both in the same photograph would be outstanding. Shooting at dawn or dusk can afford spectacular special effects with shadows and a little color in the sky can add an extra dimension. Some of the best shots are made right after twilight.
Night Photographs Require Use of a Tripod
Always carry and use a tripod. It will be impossible to shoot long exposures at night without a steady camera. The only other option is to have the camera set on a solid surface, but you will not be able to direct the shot like you would with a tripod.
A Cable Release Really Helps with Night Photographs
Another way you can avoid camera shake is to use a cable release. If your camera is not equipped to handle a cable release, a self-timer is a good option.
Avoid using the shutter button on the camera as this can be seen as blur in the final shot. If you camera has a mirror lock function use it. The internal workings of a camera can also cause blur.
Learn Your Camera and Avoid the Flash for Night Photographs
Do not use the flash at night. It will overexpose the near objects but the subject of your shot will be underexposed. Flash is only effective a few feet out. Adjust the ISO settings on your digital camera or use a higher film speed so you can shoot at faster shudder speeds. This will make for better night time photography.
Nighttime photography is very tricky as there will be lighting situations that give bright and dark areas in the same photograph. In this case bracket your photos. Expose for the light areas and then bracket for the dark areas. Determine the exposure then make the shot at a ½ shutter speed lower then make a shot at ½ shutter speed higher. If your camera can automatically bracket then use that feature.
Your camera will probably have difficulty with autofocus at night so use manual focus if it has that capability. Again a camera which allows for manual settings is preferred for night shots. Always review your shots. If you are using a digital camera you will have instant feedback.
Night Photographs Require Multiple Shots with Varied Camera Settings
Take shots with a number of exposures at a scene (a fundamental rule of photography). You can then choose the best shot. Use different exposures for different shots. Taking a lot of pictures increases your chances of getting a really nice shot.
Keep a Good Journal of Your Night Photographs
Always log your shots along with all the background information. Comparing the log with the shot results will accelerate your understanding of nighttime photography. Night Photography can be great fun particularly when you get to the point of knowing what you are doing.