PhotoChat; Night Time Photography

PhotoChat is a weekly conversation between Photography Pro’s and Amateurs that takes place on Thursdays at 1PM EST hosted by Prime Social Marketing. To follow the conversation or take part use #Photochat on Twitter.

This blog post covers my longer answers to the questions that are condensed then put into tweets for the Photochat.
Light-Festival-Piotrowska-77Q1: What is it about shooting at night that appeals to you the most?

Shooting at night allows you capture images of another world. When the sun lowers a new world comes to light. Details are illuminated in the darkness that are lost in the light. It is not just the landscape that changes but also people. Quoting an Artic Monkeys song “ from the Ritz to the rubble” ;
“This town’s a different town today, This town’s a different town to what it was last night, You couldn’t have done that on a Sunday.”
People at night act differently from what their daylight personalities. Looking images taken at pubs and clubs people disguises themselves and make themselves up like a peacock.
It’s this secret different world that appeals to me the most.

Q2: When you shoot at night, what is/who are your subjects? What are your aesthetic goals?


My subjects are usually architectural. I like to see how humans artificial light effects the landscape especially in an urban setting. One of my favourite places to shoot is in cemeteries on All Saints Day. The cemeteries are filled with candles placed of the graves of love ones. The glow gives a spiritual glow at night on an important day for catholic people.

Q3: What’s the most difficult technical aspect to overcome when shooting in low-light environments?

light-trail-all-saintsLong exposures, movement and high ISO, all three of these things can make night photography difficult but with creative thinking you can make this work with you.
If you don’t want a lot of movement then you need a to use a fast shutter speed and then use a high ISO, but in choosing a subject that is well lit or using flash to add light to the subject . Using shorter exposure reduces movement but adding movement to an image can create a new layer of detail to an image, for example light trails. For a long exposure you need to keep the camera steady, for this you will need a tripod.

Q4: How can you utilize the inherent technical challenges of shooting in low-light to produce creative, unique images?

One of the main technical challenges is light a subject especially if it is a model. With a long exposure having your model move and set off a flash and then move and set off a flash can create the effect of multiple exposures with your subject appearing multiple times across the image.

Sourced from Untitled – Dan DeChiaro Nikon D5000; Nikkor 18-200mm VR; Exposure: 36.5 seconds; Aperture : f/5.0; Focal Length: 38mm; ISO: 400; WB: Daylight. I had a friend spin some burning steel wool in an eggbeater attached to a lanyard at the top of the overpass. What you’re seeing are the resulting spark trails. – Dan DeChiaro

Also light paining is another technique that overcomes the short comings of a camera in low light conditions. Although I have never created a light painted image it is a nice effect.

Q5: Talk about your favourite photo taken at night and share it with us!

My favourite image taken at night was actually taken 10 years or a big wheel spinning around with a large sundial in the foreground. Unfortunately it was a film shot and there is only one print in existence of that shot and I don’t have a digital file to share.


From the library my favourite image was taken last year on All Saints Day looking down a row of graves towards the central cross where people place candles for those that have died but don’t have a grave at the cemetery. The image is so still and you can see the glow of all the candles faintly lighting the night’s sky. What I like the most about the shot is the two people  who have walked into the frame and kept moving, adding movement to the image but also telling the view where to look and what the central part of the image is.

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Here is also a collection of Night Shots I have taken over the last few years.

I would love to know what your opinions to the questions are. Do you agree or disagree with my answers? Either way you can let me know using the comment box below.

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