Whether you’ve already taken street photos at night or not, make sure to give it a try! Although it may seem challenging at first, it’s just a matter of how much you embrace the darkness. Here are 5 tips to help you get started or improve your night street photography even more.
1) Crank up the ISO and hug that noise
You’ll quickly realize that you’ll need to increase the ISO value (light sensitivity) to 1600-3200 or even higher. Otherwise, the shutter speed will be too slow to freeze moments. Open your aperture as much as possible (the smaller the number the better) to increase the shutter speed more.
But what about the noise? Embrace it rather than fight it! Of course, you can reduce it with noise reduction in Lightroom. However, I’d even go so far as to add some grain to give it a gritty noir look.
2) Spot and analyze light sources
During the day, the sun is your main light source. Although it may seem a bit bizarre, but there is so much more light at night! You just have to spot and analyze the different light sources well!
Before you start shooting, observe street lamps, billboards, headlights of cars and all sorts of lights. Understand how they create light and shadow. Capture the atmospheres you love observing! Always make sure that your subjects are lit up properly.
3) Focus on contrasts more than ever
Especially in the night, natural contrasts are everything! If your subject doesn’t stand out from the background, it will disappear in the darkness of the night.
If you capture silhouettes, make sure the background is as bright as possible. If you capture close-ups, compose in a way that the body is lit up.
4) Guide your viewers with light
Use all sorts of light sources to guide your viewers through the frame. Indicate a sense of direction, lead them to your subject or simply highlight a beautiful part of the scenery.
During the day, it’s much harder to do that!
5) Highlight the colors of the night
As the famous painter Vincent Van Gogh already said: “The night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” Discover, observe and use those colors.
Especially reflections on a rainy day and billboards fill your moment with color. Combined with the dark environment, they look very intense and contrasty.
I hope these tips helped you step up your street photography game at night. In the beginning, I started to shoot in the dark every now and then. The more you practice these methods, the easier it will get!
By now, I really can’t stop capturing the subtle beauty of the night…
About the Author
Vijce is an award-winning fine-art street photographer and coach based in Amsterdam. His label Eye, Heart & Soul empowers fine art street photographers worldwide. Make sure to check out his street photography workshops and connect with EHS on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to level up your street photography game! This article was also published here and shared with permission.