My Journey into Long Exposure Night Photography

Compact cameras, when compared to the high end SLR (which stands for Single-lens reflex for all of us novices) there is absolutely no comparison. It is like trying to compare a thoroughbred with a mongrel. As great as the technology has become, the compact digital camera is great for happy snaps, but if you want to create fabulous memories and have the capacity to blow them up, slideshow them and create great art work from a simple photo, the SLR is definitely the way to go.

Canon and Nikon have created a range of SLR cameras that now possess the same ease of operation as the compact digital camera. Yes, the size and weight are definitely an issue, but when you make the change to a high end SLR camera and see the difference in quality, I promise you will never look back. I have always been that annoying person in the group snapping at anything and everything that moved. The digital camera was a godsend for me. When it used to cost around $15-$20 to get a roll of 24 photos developed and you had to throw at least ¼ of them away because they were out of focus, over exposed or just plain awful, the investment into a digital camera was a no brainer.

I have had around 3 compact digital cameras and recently invested in a Canon SLR and it is the best investment I have ever made. I now spend hours of an evening playing with my photos, creating slideshows and photobooks for family and friends and have learned to absolutely love it. A friend of a friend came for a weekend away and he happened to have an SLR camera. Photography was a bit of a hobby for him. I was standing to the left of  him and we were taking photos of the same thing (the boys riding on 4 wheel motorbikes). Late in the evening, we had uploaded all of the photos and I was absolutely blown away with the difference in the shots. It was at that moment that I decided it was time for an upgrade!

So upgrade I did. I bought myself the SLR camera and then realized how much more to photography there was than just aiming the camera and pressing the button. For the first 12 months I left it on Auto and reveled in how clever I was with getting great photos. Then I came across a scenario that the Auto function would not deal with. There I was at this beautiful wedding overlooking the city of Melbourne at night with my DSLR that could do anything, so I dutifully popped it into nightscape mode, pressed the button and ended up with a blur of light that was unrecognizable as anything. So I pressed the button harder, changed the setting to auto, back to nightscape, over to portrait and nada, nothing, absolute rubbish! It was at this point I realized that maybe I should learn what some of that other stuff does!

I booked myself and a girlfriend on a night photography course on the banks of the Brisbane River at Southbank. The results of just that tiny bit of knowledge were absolutely amazing. A little knowledge is an extremely powerful thing. So here I am going to share with you this little amount of knowledge. Obviously, there are so many variables when it comes to photography everything here is general and I’ve simplified it for us novices.

Night Photography:

Night photography presents special challenges and it is all to do with the level of exposure. The experimental approach is often the quickest and best solution. Much longer exposure times are required when shooting at night and therefore making it all but impossible if not using a tripod. The photo above was taken using a tripod. The shutter speed required to take this type of shot can be up to 30 seconds.

  • Tip 1 – Always use tripod (this is because of the slow shutter speed requiring total stillness)
  • Tip 2 – Use timer button (as actually pressing the button ‘shakes’ the camera, using the timer overcomes this problem.
  • Tip 3 – Change from Auto function to Manual
  • Tip 4 – Set your aperture to around f/5-6
  • Tip 5 – Set your exposure to around 3-4 seconds
  • Tip 6 – Take heaps of photos using different exposures and apertures to learn what works best for what you are trying to photograph – the best way to learn is to do!

A final major tip when it comes to photography, be sure you are enjoying it! Don’t make it a chore and don’t make it too hard, just relax and enjoy the moment.

This article as published on

About Shailendra Nair

I am full-time IT professional, with excellent exposure in Information technology management, mission critical business application & development, Information security & advisory practice . I have been in the field for little over 13 + years have significant achievement and set new trends in the field & Industry. Grandson of late Indian freedom fighter from Kerala, I am photographer , blogger, guitarist by hobby , adamant NOT arrogant, travel & foodie at heart, globe trotting road warrior , multidimensional thinker & dreamer.
This entry was posted in Photography and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Kindly leave your feedback or suggestions

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s