Just because most modern cameras nowadays have night mode settings does not mean you are guaranteed a magazine-worthy night-time picture. You still need to tweak the settings to capture what your eyes can see because cameras still depend on sources of light to be effective.
Here are tips to take better nightscape photos.
Whether you are using a DSLR or your phone’s camera, you will need a tripod for nightscape photography. That is because the camera needs to have slow shutter speeds to capture more light. If you cannot keep still (and you won’t), then you will have blurry photos. To get a good nighttime photo, the shutter speed should be at least 1/60.
Exposure is important if you want to tell a story
Exposure time or shutter speed can be used to create a sense of motion in nightscape photography. If you are using a lower shutter speed, you need to adjust the f/stop settings as well. A smaller f-number will let in more light. You will not need to have a large depth of field unless you can find a good source of light for the scene. This works well if you want to capture moving cars or water for example. The moving objects will look blurred.
Use the low ISO setting
If you are not trying to capture motion, use a low ISO setting. High ISO leaves noise and makes your photo look grainy. As much as possible use 400 ISO or lower for night photos.
White balance affects the quality
Do not use auto white balance when taking nighttime photos because you can have two different images that are different from what you want to capture. Use the presets and pick the one that is closest to the natural lighting available.
Focus manually for a sharp image
For the best nightscapes, you need to take several shots while adjusting the focus because it can be difficult to not have a blurry background and middle ground with so little light. Make use of the light from the moon and stars to get a sharp image. It will also help if you shoot on a night with clear skies and less pollution.
Pick the RAW format
If you need to enhance your nightscape photos because of the shadows and lights, you will need to pick the RAW format on your camera. This will make enhancements easier later.
It’s all about timing and experiment
The great thing about taking night photos is that you are forced to get to know your camera settings. It also trains you to scout for the perfect locations and time to get the best effects. Always experiment with longer shutter speeds when taking nighttime photos.