by Emma Thomson
on June 15, 2018
2 min read

The perfect night shot not only requires suitable conditions, but also a certain amount of technical knowledge. As with everything photographic, practice makes perfect. If you have ever wanted to experiment with this area of photography, put on a warm jacket, grab your equipment and follow these five tips!

An image of Cape Town city at night from a high vantage point

Cape Town city at night
Photo Credit: Rhino Africa Safaris

1. Choose The Correct Camera

You can technically shoot with almost any camera at night, the only thing that may be impacted is the quality of the image. We recommend you choose a DSLR or DSLM SLR camera with a manually adjustable exposure time.

2. Everything Is A Matter Of Attitude

JPG, RAW, ISO…with so many names and techniques, it’s easy to get confused! So, let’s start from scratch. When photographing at night, switch from classic JPG to RAW as photos in this format record all sensor information, allowing you to draw from the full colour information field.  You should also keep the picture noise as low as possible when taking pictures at night – this is best achieved with a low ISO setting, which should be between 100 and 800. In doing this, the image is not artificially brightened and maintains its original, rich colours.

The correct shutter speed is also crucial as it determines the exposure time – you should do well with a time between four and eight seconds. Don’t forget to always allow enough time to shoot test photos and play with settings until the result meets your expectation.

An image of a dramatic night sky above a campsite

A dramatic night sky
Photo Credit: Rhino Africa Safaris

3. Use A Tripod

Night photography means standing still and as the longer exposure time can blur an image with the slightest vibration, it’s advised to use a tripod. Set it up on a firm, even surface and use a self-timer or remote trigger for the best results.

4. The Right Line

A clear rule in night photography; flash is taboo! You should also avoid shooting in places where ambient light could disturb your subject. Many photographers swear by the ‘blue hour’- a short period of time just after the sun goes down. The beginning of the night ensures great lighting conditions and a unique mood.

A leopard sitting in the long grass

A nocturnal visitor
Photo Credit: Rhino Africa Safaris

5. Dress To Impress

While not directly related to any photography skills, this is often underestimated: remember to pack warm clothes! Particularly with night photography, you stand next to your camera mostly motionless for extended periods of time. So bring a warm jacket and a thermos of something hot – trust us, you’ll be grateful you did!

Have you tried any unique night shots recently? More tips and tricks can also be found on our blog. Send in your best images to take part in our Africa’s Photographer of the Year 2018 competition and stand a chance to win some incredible prizes!