Night photography as a discipline has been in constant experimentation throughout its history. In this search, he has discovered many fascinating motifs, environments, themes and genres. The night with its enchanting and mysterious gloom, represents an unsuspected resource for capturing beautiful graphics, where technique is combined with high doses of creativity and inventiveness.
Night photography is a genre that stands out with its extraordinary contrast of lights, flashes, colors, shapes and textures under the deep blue of dusk or before dawn in a natural environment. It is a type of photography that discovers an extraordinary world of expressive possibilities at night.
Perhaps it is possible to think that in an environment with absence of light it is not possible to take good photographs. On the contrary, out of the night a vibrant world of visual opportunities arises : lanterns, neon lights, display cabinets, canopies, illuminated signs and everything that forms a striking contrast with the twilight background. If you are a night owl and you also cultivate a taste for photography, then it will be interesting for you to venture into this genre.
This intoxicating and dynamic environment is expressed with beings that take on a disturbing anonymity in front of the eyes of those who eternalize it in a graphic; Each building manifests itself with an enigmatic robustness with the play of light and shadow; Each space is enlivened with an enveloping halo full of spectacular sparkles in the shadows by those who paint the images with light.
Likewise, the celestial vault opens up a world of possibilities to capture a starry night in all its splendor . Constellations, comets and shooting stars can be fully expressed with this resource. The development of long-exposure photography, high-speed enhanced films, wide-aperture lenses, sensors with greater sensitivity and resolution, as well as the improvement of public lighting in streets and avenues, have contributed to all of this and to the best capture in night mode of cities and sky.
What is night photography?
Night photography is a type of photography that takes place at night with no exposure to sunlight. In its beginnings, night photography was born from the hand of photography, and the need to capture the stars, the moon and planets in an image, since these can only be recognized at night. With this, the first signs of night photography were those of astrophotography, a combination of photography and astronomy for the study of planets and stars.
Equipment and accessories for night photography
Preparing for a night photography session implies equipping yourself with a series of tools and accessories that will ensure the success of your day . The first thing is to think of good clothing and comfortable boots that allow you to move around safely. Provide a raincoat or coat for the cold since you must consider that you will be hunting for a long time for the best time for a firmament full of heavenly bodies, in distant places, be it the countryside or the mountains, away from the lights of the city.
Try to purchase a large multi-compartment bag so that there is no lack of space or opportunity to be forgotten. Returning without meeting your objective is not an option, especially if it is in a secluded place. This bag will allow you to classify and store each of the tools and accessories necessary to photograph the sky.
With regard to the camera, you must take into account the best equipment to undertake this type of photography with interchangeable lenses and remote shutter release at intervals, wireless or with the option to configure it from the cell phone. The photographs may be blurred or shaky if you do it manually since vibrations are produced when pressing directly to the camera.
If you buy it with cable, its transport and handling can be complicated in the dark of night. You should choose a camera with manual and non-automatic adjustment, that has RAW format and Buld Mode (long exposure mode) in addition to the noise reduction option.
In case your objective is the moon in an enlarged way with details of its craters, you must provide yourself a telephoto lens . Also bring with you several batteries and memory cards since you will not want to leave the work unfinished due to lack of spare parts. The day is usually long so take provisions to be able to save all the possible shots. Nothing is waste. Each shot counts when choosing and contrasting the work.
Also provide yourself a good tripod, heavy, with a robust settlement that ensures the stability of the chamber, especially on uneven floors. The prevailing darkness as well as the breeze can play against the firmness you need to capture the images. In addition, a headlamp cannot be missing from the accessories because it will allow you to leave your hands free to manipulate the equipment.
To get started in night photography and get excellent graphics of your lens, it is important to consider the lighting and the wide angle. Fully opening the camera’s aperture will allow you to widen the angle of your shot and obtain razor-sharp images. Remember that in this type of photography the vital thing is to cover the widest possible visual field.
Among the most important accessories that give your graphics great creativity and originality are games of light . Lanterns can be placed illuminating foreground shapes or motifs to highlight them, or they can be placed inside out in structures such as abandoned houses.
Types of Night Photography
It developed in tandem with the invention of photography. This type of night photography appeared in the last quarter of the 19th century with the first daguerreotypes of the moon. The lunar satellite emerged as the first recurring theme of astrophotography. His first images showed them as a blurry point that was gaining sharpness as the use of reflector telescopes was optimized as well as shortening the exposure times. Photographing the moon is the best way to get into this type of photography.
Light painting or painting with light is a highly creative technique that requires a lot of practice and experimentation. It consists of painting your photographs with light strokes, with a very slow shutter speed, where the trails of light are registered by the camera’s sensor and which allows you to draw whimsical lines and shapes directly on the image.
If you want to paint with light or make light painting with your photographs and handle it at will to obtain very striking graphics called physiograms, you must have light sources such as flashlights, reflectors, candles, LEDs, flash, sparklers, fireworks and whatever your inventiveness suggests. You must have a battery of both warm and cold lights, flashlights varied in intensity, long-range and the possibility of adapting colored jellies.
These gels come to fit both flash and flashlights, resulting in light scenes full of color and originality, a perfect balance between technique and creativity. Loops, streamers, loops, spheres, silhouettes and rain of lights you can trace to become a painter of light using photography as a canvas. Choose a very dark environment so that both your originality and your skill in handling the technique overflow, taking into account the effect you will achieve.
Night photography of long exposure
Long exposure Night Photography is one where life, movement and time are captured in the impression of the image. This technique recalls the occupation of Cubist painters in incorporating time as a fourth dimension in painting. In photography it is achieved by leaving the camera shutter open for several seconds so that the photographer captures the passage of time and the trace of the movement of objects and beings in motion in the image.
There can be many targets to be captured in motion: the movement of trains and automobiles, the circular translation of stars and so-called circumpolar celestial bodies around the Pole star. If you dare with this technique you will achieve very artistic results.
Urban night photography
Urban night photography proposes many variants of capturing the city in vibrant mode with all the artificial lighting it provides: neon lights, shop windows, lanterns, neon signs. You will discover a face that you did not know with the city by day. To photograph it, it is recommended that you take advantage of that moment that happens just before dusk or before dawn, it is what is called the blue hour.
The graphics obtained will be very striking with the contrast offered by the warmth of the city lights with the cold colors of the sky. The use of closed diaphragms ensures a good depth of field where the entire captured image will be in focus.
The night portrait offers a contrasting world of light and shadow around the character that is the object of the portrait. As a photographer, you must take advantage of the compositional infinity that the night portrait offers you. Lights, reflections, out-of-focus luminous backgrounds or bokeh on a dark background will highlight the person portrayed, will tell the story of him as an anonymous being who takes a genuine interest in being part of a vibrant city that expresses himself around him.
Urban landscape photography
Another type of night photography is landscape photography , which has as its theme the ruins, uninhabited villages, abandoned cars, dry trees and landscapes in the depth of night. It is very attractive because with it the passage of time and the sensation of movement is given with equal expressiveness using long exposure photographs.
If as a photographer you are interested in transmitting that sensation of rickety structures, withered by the passage of time, where corrosion, wear, moss erodes the soul of objects and undress, then a world of expressive possibilities captured with great compositional sense opens up for you under twilight lighting or under moonlight.
Night photography with its many variants is highly attractive for those who start in it . Ingenuity is combined with technique, practice with artistic and inventiveness with playfulness. Imagination and calculation to obtain the desired end result. You will need hours of practice, experimentation and, above all, in good company in long night hours, to obtain the desired result.
Broadly speaking, this is what you need to dive into the depths of the night, photograph outer space and wait for the blue blanket of the twilight sky to eternalize the frenetic rhythm of the city and spaces.