“Click it! Why night street photography can be a challenge”
When it comes to night street photography, shooting after the twilight hour, while the city and it’s people dance in the rhythm of the night, imposes a number of technical and other challenges compared to daylight photo shooting.
What makes night street photography different?
The main difference is the kind and the variety of lights as well as the subjects than you can find in the street. At night, the light is significantly lesser and it comes exclusively from man-made sources, small crowd is usually found in the streets and people are dressed up for a night out. In addition, as we all know, some things only happen at night, offering a great opportunity for distinctive photographs.
For all the above reasons, it is highly important to bear in mind the main principles that you have to stick to if you want your night street photographs to stand out.
What are the essential technical settings?
The camera settings, are by far the most important factor that will allow you to shoot quickly and instinctively. You need a good camera to start with, for you will have to push it to its limits. The minimum prerequisites are a wide-angle lens (ideally using a large aperture such as F2.8 or F2), an incredibly high ISO (at best 3200 or 6400 – more info) and a shutter speed somewhere between 1/125th and 1/60th. The Manual Mode will work well if the lighting is consistent, but if the lights change constantly it will be best to turn to Aperture Priority.
A steady hand is also a must, for it is usually best to go handheld, but you can carry as well a monopod (a tripod is not recommended) or be creative and make use of your nearby environment for stabilizing the camera.
How to make the best of night street photography?
As far as the technique is concerned, some main guidelines should be followed to secure an ideal shooting result. The focus must be on the light source and how the light hits the subjects, as well as using the light sources to your advantage. In addition, using the flash can have a highlighting effect, while choosing to take a step back and not be too close to your subjects can offer a better result. Likewise, purposefully embracing the blur and the grain to your photos can make the photos more realistic and more authentic and spontaneous. Besides, street photography justifies if not celebrates imperfection. Shooting RAW is a better choice as well, because it captures more information than JPGs.
Finally, keep in mind that going out at night for shooting is not always the best idea, so keeping yourself safe is a must.
This photo series about Street Photography in Berlin shows impressively how such pictures can look like. See here – https://streetwise.photography/berlin-street-photography-guide.
Night street photography can be challenging yet rewarding and fun. Having in mind the basic tips presented above, photographers who long to experience the “dark side” of the street photography can surely make the best of it. And enjoy it too.
So, are you ready for a click?