Essential Beginner Tips for Night Photography

There are so many exciting, creative possibilities when the sun goes down.

With these opportunities, however, comes great challenge. In extremely low-lit scenes you have no way of seeing how the image will come out until after you’ve taken it. When using 30 second to 5 minute exposures, that’s a lot of waiting.

With that said, this lesson is designed to simplify night photography and arm you with know-how of various exposure settings and their influence on your night photos.

We will begin with the basics of night photography and then jump on over to a few night photo scenarios most photographers love.


Equipment Needed

With any photo shoot at night, you are going to want to arm yourself with a few basic tools:

  1. Tripod
  2. Shutter Release or WIRELESS remote control release
  3. Flashlight
  4. Glasses (if you have trouble seeing)


A tripod is the most essential tool you will need. With the extreme low light that night gives you, you will be required to use very slow shutter speeds. While other steadying devices may help stabilize your camera in certain situations (monopods), a sturdy tripod is best.

Additionally, sandbags or other heavy material to wrap around your camera is a lifesaver for wind or other conditions that may cause vibration or movement of your camera.

Shutter Release or Wireless Remotes:

Depending on the situation you face,  the shutter speed and/or telephoto lens may be set up so that even clicking the shutter button will cause extreme camera blur. To avoid this, be sure to bring along a shutter release or wireless remote to trigger the photo.

One cheap alternative to this is to use the remote timer function your camera most likely has. If your camera is anything like mine, however, you’ll hate that function and opt for an easier-to-use shutter release cable!


As I touched upon earlier, at night you will have a difficult time looking through the viewfinder to see what you are photographing. For me, photographing mostly in nature where there is little to no light besides the moon, this causes a massive issue.

Sure, I can use Live Preview mode. This, however, is a massive energy hog.

Hence the flashlight.

For foreground objects or subjects I want to frame, I can use a flashlight to shine light onto them and will be able to see that light from my viewfinder. With this I can both frame and focus on the object with ease.


Long exposure photography, because of such long exposures, is an absolute battery hog. If you can, be sure to pack an extra battery or three. Because nothing is worse than being mid-shoot and without a functioning camera.


If you’re like me and have nearsighted vision that requires glasses to see anything past a foot from your eyes, do not forget your glasses!

I’ve fallen victim to this mistake several times and it just compounds the fact that I can’t see out of my viewfinder.

A simple little thing – but important!

With the equipment basics covered needed for most all night shoots, follow along as we now dive into night photography.

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