Shooting an event that occurs after the sun goes down can result in some of the most interesting and dramatic photographs you can take, but the process can be tricky to master, and capturing that once-in-a-lifetime occasion doesn’t leave you with a lot of room for error. Fortunately, there are some basic, tried-and-true practices that can help you succeed in getting those brilliant, low-light shots.
- Use your electric flash sparingly
While an electric flash can be a great tool for capturing the moment of action in low light, it can also wash out your subject and plunge the surrounding environment in total darkness. The result? Whoever you’re trying to shoot ends up looking like they were just surprised by the paparazzi, and the atmosphere of the shot can be totally lost, particularly if you’re trying to shoot outside.
- Instead, try a slower shutter speed, or a combination of the two
A slow shutter speed will allow ambient light in the shot to come through and grant you a deeper depth of field, meaning the scene, as a whole, will be in sharper focus. Although this technique works great for shooting a venue or a subject that’s sitting still, it’s not so ideal for capturing something in motion, which could result in a blurry image.
Another option is to use your electric flash while leaving the shutter open slightly longer. The ensuing effect, one that highlights the subject while slightly blurring any lines of motion, is popular among night photographers for its stunning artistic results.
- Use a tripod
The key to successfully capturing night events is to take in as much atmospheric light as you can, thereby catching the mood of the scene in a more natural way. The most important thing to remember is that the slower your shutter speed, the more imperative it is that your camera is properly stabilized. Even a shaky hand can ruin a slow shot, so invest in a locking tripod and save yourself the disappointment of blurry, unusable images.
No matter what technique you use to shoot your night event, remember to budget in some extra time for yourself in order to fully plan your set-up and your shots. With a little patience, and a willingness to experiment with your flash and shutter speed, you can create some amazing images of your nighttime event.