Capture a class ic view
Fit it all in
1 Fill the Frame The key to the classic shot was getting the composition right, and tweaking it so that the frame was filled by the bridges and the reflections, without any dead space at the top or bottom. Once the composition was sorted, it was simply a matter of setting an aperture of f/13 at ISO100 in aperture-priority mode to maximise depth of field and minimise noise.
2 Under-expose slightly This gave us a shutter speed of 20 seconds, but a quick look at the preview image on our LCD revealed that the image was slightly over-exposed, as the camera’s built-in light meter was trying to turn our predominantly dark scene into an average mid-tone. To counter this we set exposure compensation to -1EV, which gave us a shutter speed of 10 seconds.
3 Check your histogram LCD screens have a habit of making images taken at night look much brighter than they really are, so once you’re happy with your exposure settings, it pays to check your histogram. For cityscapes at night, it should be stacked over the left (since your image will mostly be made up of darker tones), but not cut off or ‘clipped’, as this will result areas of pure black, without any detail present.
4 Time your exposure We knew a shutter speed of 10 seconds would be enough to blur any traffic trails on the Tyne Bridge, so we waited until a bus was crossing, and timed our shot (using a remote release) so that the light trail went all the way from left to right (see detail below). We also set mirror lock-up, to reduce the risk of camera shake from mirror slap, and high-ISO noise reduction, to minimise noise, especially in the sky.