Four ways to im­prove night shots

Get these set­tings right and you’re half­way there

NPhoto - - Feature -

Fo­cus­ing

Au­tofo­cus sys­tems don’t work as well at night, so you’ll need to switch to man­ual fo­cus. Even then, with so lit­tle light around it can be dif­fi­cult to see a suit­able sub­ject, let alone fo­cus on it. Us­ing Live View and mag­ni­fy­ing any ar­eas of vis­i­ble light in the frame can be eas­ier than us­ing the viewfinder to fo­cus, and set­ting a high ISO of 6400 or more can also help (see be­low). To fo­cus on sub­jects close to the cam­era, use a torch to il­lu­mi­nate them as you turn the fo­cus ring.

sensi tiv­ity

As with fo­cus­ing, fram­ing your shots through the viewfinder can be al­most im­pos­si­ble at night. Set­ting up when there’s still some day­light will al­low you sort out your com­po­si­tion be­fore­hand, but Live View is the way to go when it’s black. Set­ting a very high ISO can al­low you to see more on the screen, but re­mem­ber to change the ISO back to the one that you need for your shot, or you’ll get an over-ex­posed and ex­tremely noisy re­sult.

Ex­po­sure

You won’t be able to use your cam­era’s ex­po­sure meter dur­ing a night shoot, so set­ting the ex­po­sure re­quires a mix of ed­u­cated guess­work and re­view­ing the im­age to check its bright­ness. You’ll need to switch to Man­ual ex­po­sure mode for ex­po­sures last­ing up to 30 sec­onds, but for some ef­fects you’ll need to use even longer shutter speeds. In this case, use Bulb ex­po­sure mode, also known as B – to ac­cess this, scroll be­yond 30 sec­onds in the shutter speed read­out. In this mode the shutter will stay open for as long as you hold down the button on your re­mote release.

White bal­anc e

The night sky doesn’t match any of Nikon’s ‘nor­mal’ white bal­ance pre-sets, so get­ting colours cor­rect can be tricky. Try the In­can­des­cent pre­set if you’re close to a town, or the Day­light pre­set if you’re in a darker area. Shooting in RAW rather than JPEG will al­low you to fine-tune the white bal­ance at the pro­cess­ing stage.

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