Trail at night

by Ron
(Trail,British Columbia,Canada)

Trail Smelter

Trail Smelter

I took this picture down river from the city,I had it set on night setting and I used a tripod.

My camera is a Fuji s8100

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Recently there's been a couple of night photography shots cropping up - maybe it's the season!

Ron's photo is quite nice. Perfectly respectable. But, of course, this being the photography tutor section of the site, what tips can we offer in the way of improvements?

First of all, the composition is fine. It looks at first glance that there is a lot of dark emptiness at the top of the screen.

But turn up the brightness control on your screen (or dim the light in the room - your choice!) and you will notice some mountains appearing in that seemingly empty darkness.

Here's my first tip for a better night shot - open the exposure on the camera more, and actually allow the light in.

Don't be thinking that a night photo needs to be pure black dotted by lights. Often a night photo will look better if the sky is deep blue rather that pure black - and I think Ron's shot is a perfect example.

This is easy to do, simply open the shutter for longer. If your first photo was a ten second exposure, take some more photos at 20 and 30 seconds.

My second tip involves the focussing. This photo looks a little 'soft'. The way to combat this is to close the aperture right down to it's smallest setting (it will be something like 'f22'). This will ensure everything is in crisp focus. Click to read more about the aperture.

But - hold on a moment! There's more to this. I reckon Ron did actually use a small aperture. I say that because some of the lights appear like little starbursts. This starburst effect occurs with small apertures (it's to do with the actual aperture blades themselves refracting the light).

So I wonder if the softness is to do with the camera being jogged while the exposure was taken.

With night photography there are usually long exposures (30 seconds or more). If the camera is nudged during those 30 seconds the image will appear a little blurry.

One way to make sure this doesn't happen is to use the camera's self timer to trip the shutter. Set the timer, press the button, and stand away from the camera. Wait until the whole exposure has been made before returning to your camera.

Have a read through the night photography tips section for more tips.

All in all though, nice photo. Thanks Ron for the submission,


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