BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Melissa J. Miller
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/2/2003

Tips on Night Photography

I am shooting at night on Saturday and need some advice. I have not taken too many shots at night and the ones I took weren't so great. Which is better: a smaller aperture and a slower shutter speed, or a larger aperture and a faster shutter speed? I will be using my Canon, with a telephoto lens, 400 and 800 speed color film. Most of the photos will be still life and neon lights. Thanks!

To love this question, log in above
5/21/2004 2:23:10 PM

Nancy Grace Chen
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/18/2004
  Well, your aperture depends on what you are doing. If you want a large DOF (depth of field) - like if you're doing a skyline - then you need a small aperture. This will require a slow shutter speed. I've had to do 25-second exposures to make it work. Therefore, a tripod is a MUST. If you're doing it handheld, your shots are going to be totally blurry. Hope that helps.

To love this comment, log in above
5/21/2004 8:05:24 PM

Sharon E. Lowe
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/7/2002
  Melissa - Neon needs to be treated like the sun - that is use the "sunny 16" rule when shooting neon. Set your aperture to f/16 and your shutter at the speed of your film. I would suggest ISO 100 rather than ISO 400 or 800 - too much grain in the latter, especially if you are doing longer exposures. If you use ISO 100 film, bracket your exposures and take one at 1/90 second and one at 1/125 second.

For other night shots, an aperture of f/8 or higher is probably better so that you can get reasonably sharpness throughout the whole scene. Your shutter speed will then depend on the scene. You should have a good tripod and a cable release or other remote triggering device, depending on your camera. You don't really need or want ISO 400 or 800 at night - longer exposures will show more of the grain. Try a good professional quality film at ISO 100 - my favorite for night shots is Kodak 100VS. I also like Fuji Tungsten 64 for twilight and evening shots because it tends to balance the orange sodium vapor lights most cities have. For neon lights, such as you might see in Las Vegas, I think the Kodak film would be better - tungsten film would give you a bluish cast.

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask - I do lots of night photography so I think I could help out.

To love this comment, log in above
5/25/2004 3:26:43 AM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.