Special effects photography at night

Almost since the first point-and-shoot digicams were invented, camera manufacturers have come to the aid of novice photographers by providing pre-set exposure modes to help them select appropriate aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings for popular photographic genres. The first of the ‘Scene’ pre-sets were for portrait, landscape and sports photography. But it wasn’t long before night portrait and night landscape pre-sets were added and it’s not uncommon for modern cameras to provide separate pre-sets covering fireworks, candlelight, sunset and dusk and/or dawn.

Shooting in the twilight zones

The transitional periods between day and night – sunrise and sunset – have inspired artists (and subsequently, photographers) since time immemorial and most photographers continue to appreciate their magic. The changing colours in the sky are the obvious attraction for most people.

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Shooting with additional light sources

While point-and-shoot cameras automatically pop up their flashes when light levels are low, a surprising number of serious photographers avoid using flash wherever possible. However, used properly, additional light sources can extend your picture-taking opportunities and result in better, more engaging, pictures. The trick is to know what add-on lighting to use and when to use it.

Creative shooting techniques

In this article we investigate some popular creative shooting techniques including panning to capture a sharply-rendered subject against a blurred background; flash blur by combining slow shutter speeds with flash exposures; very long exposures for landscapes, seascapes, and architecture; and using ND filters for blurring exposures to reduce the visibility of moving objects and to add motion blur to subjects.

Creating long exposures

Long exposure photography is often associated with ‘fine art’ pictorialism because it enables photographers to achieve surreal and unworldly effects, often from quite banal subjects. Most cameras aren’t designed specifically for long exposure photography but you can obtain worthwhile results with appropriate equipment and correct exposure and focusing.

Hand-held shooting after dark

Taking pictures after dark requires the same key controls as you would use in daylight – but they may be pushed to their technical limits in some situations. Understanding these limits enables you to modify your shooting practices to produce interesting and technically competent photographs.

Shooting techniques for action photography

Once you’ve settled on the equipment you will use and sorted out the locations you’ll shoot from, it’s time to decide the camera settings you will use. Often these will vary, depending on how you want to record the motion. Here are a few general tips that will help you to make wise choices in most situations.