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Night Street Photography Tips and Ideas

In many destinations across the globe, communities are definitely more alive during the night.

This provides endless opportunities for capturing some excellent street photography images. The city streets are illuminated by a kaleidoscope of lights and anything’s possible in most places.

If you’d like to capture some strong street photography shots after the sun goes down these night street photography tips should help.

Night Street Photography Tips and Techniques Banner

Photo by Mark Tighe

Use a higher ISO

This isn’t always a favorite option with some people because a higher ISO will produce more grain or noise in the photos.

However, it may be preferable to a blurry shot.

It’s a good idea to bump up the ISO one setting at a time and then check the images to see if you’re comfortable with the level of noise. In fact, some people prefer “noisier” images in night photography as they can convey the grittiness of the streets.

You can also convert the photos to black and white if you’d like to reduce some of the noticeable grain. The ISO needs to be relatively high since you’ll have to shoot at fast shutter speeds to ensure the scenes are in focus.

Show some motion

showing motion in night street photography

Photo by Ed Yourdon

You can always add the perception of motion to your photos as it adds a dynamic dimension to them.

You can do this by using a slow shutter speed or by panning the scene.

It’s often fun to experiment with a lower shutter speed such as 1/10th of a second or slower. Try it out and see how it looks.

Use a prime lens

prime lens

For night shooting, it’s recommended that you use a fast lens that can open up to an aperture of at least f2.8.

Prime lenses allows more light to hit the camera’s sensor, which will allow you to use faster shutter speeds when needed. If the lens doesn’t allow enough light in then it can be hard to get a good shot that’s in focus.

What about a tripod?

Using a tripod is a personal choice.

Some people just don’t want to carry one around when wandering the streets at night.

If you plan on taking long exposures you’ll likely need one as you need to keep the camera as still as possible. It really just comes down to what you plan on photographing at night and if a tripod will be necessary. A great inexpensive tripod we recommend is the Dolica 62-inch Proline, which can be found for under $40.

Manual focus

To be honest, auto focus can be a nightmare when shooting in the dark.

While the technology is fabulous, it’s almost impossible for the auto focus function to know what it is you want to focus on.

It may take several seconds to try and focus on something and then you find out it focused on the wrong thing. By this time you’ve lost your shot.

It’s much better to focus manually when the light is low as it’ll be quicker and more accurate.

Light your way

using available light at night

Photo by konstantin

Even though you may be downtown during the darkest hours of the night, there should still be plenty of light sources.

The street and shop lights can create some wonderful shadows and silhouettes and add life, mystery, and excitement to your images. The lights can add some excellent colors and are ideal for long-exposure photography as they can create trails of light.

Experiment and explore

Make sure you use common sense when taking street photos at night.

Be aware of your surroundings and don’t wander off the beaten track on your own. However, don’t be afraid to experiment and explore in different areas of the city as long as the conditions are safe.

What’s Next?

We hope you enjoyed these night street photography tips and techniques. Now that you’re finished reading, leave a comment below telling us which tip was your favorite and share any experiences you’ve had taking street photography.

Then, check out our related posts to learn even more ways to improve your photography.

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