HDR · Night Photography

High ISO or Low Shutter Speed?

When taking photos at night, you might find yourself confused between cranking up the ISO of your camera and reducing the shutter speed to get more light into the sensor. Both these actions have their own pros and cons, and we’ll take a look at the basic differences between them to help you take better photos.

High ISO Means More Noise

Yes, increasing the camera’s ISO value will introduce more noise in your photos. However, if you have a camera released somewhere in the past five years, you can be sure that the high ISO performance of the sensor will be quite good. Modern camera sensors have come a long way in this regard, and most of the time you’ll be okay shooting at up to 3200 ISO provided you are shooting with an APS-C sized sensor. Full frame cameras can shoot comfortably at even higher ISO values.

Remember though, if you mean to take multiple photos and use an HDR photo editor to create an HDR image, the noise level in the final image usually tends to increase further.

Low Shutter Speed Means More Blur

Your first instinct when taking photos in the dark might be to reduce the camera’s shutter speed, but that will also mean that your photos come out blurry and seem out of focus. This is not an issue if you’re going for a long exposure photo, but if you want to take photos of people then reducing the shutter speed too much will cause your photos to be unusable.

At the end of the day, you have to make sure that whatever of the two options you go for is the best one for your particular subject. If you’re taking photos of still subjects, then you can just prop your camera on a tripod and reduce the shutter speed. But if you’re taking photos of people, or if you don’t have a tripod then it’s better to increase the ISO value.

At the end of the day, it’s better to get a noisy image than no image at all.

HDR · Night Photography

Taking HDR Photos at Night

HDR photography is generally associated with daytime and landscape photographs. It’s a great way to make sure that you nail the exposure on your shot and have the room to tweak it even further in an HDR photo editor like Aurora HDR (you can learn more about this editor by clicking here).

However, HDR photographs can also be taken at night to get some crazy good urban shots. You can achieve very creative results by doing this, and create photographs that are clean, crisp, and very well-lit.

Architecture Shots Are Enhanced at Night

If you want to take a photo of a building at night, with all the lights on and fog hiding it a little from the view, then HDR photography can help you a great deal. Not only will you be able to get great exposure for the lights (which are the highlights in this case), you will also get a lot of detail in the rest of the scene including the roads and the sky (which are the shadows here).

Architecture and urban scenes just take a whole new look at night, and taking long exposures produces some great results. But while a long exposure does lead to very nice light trails on the roads, it also causes building lights to blow out. HDR photography helps you here a great deal. Taking multiple long exposures, you’ll get the same light trails but will also have the ability to pull back essential highlights.

So the next time you’re trying to capture architecture shots at night, give this technique a try and you’ll see how much more flexibility you get with your HDR files in post-processing.

HDR · Night Photography

Capture Stunning Cityscapes At Night

Shooting daytime views of the city is all good, but take those same shots at night and your photos will take on a totally different look. The lights, the moving cars, the stars, all these things combine to make night photos much more dynamic, and at times alive, than daytime ones can be.

One important trick to take stunning night photos is to use HDR. With daytime photos, it’s as simple as taking a few brackets of the same scene and merging them together, but things get a little trickier at night. Here are the top things you should keep in mind while shooting HDR cityscapes at night.

• Shoot Manual Brackets

It’s important to have multiple different brackets for your night HDR photos. That is why you may need to adjust the settings on your camera manually and take various shots rather than relying on the camera’s own bracketing system.

• Focus Manually

At night, all but the very best of cameras will have trouble finding focus on their own especially in low light. For this reason, you should try and focus manually using live view or the EVF of your camera.

• Use a Tripod

It should go without saying that you should use a tripod for night time photos. This will help minimize camera shake in long exposures. You should also invest in a remote shutter release, or use a 2-second delay when taking photos so the camera doesn’t move when you press the shutter.

• Software Matters

HDR photography requires you to merge the various brackets you’ve taken into one cohesive image. This can be done within the body of some cameras, but it helps a great deal if you shoot in RAW and use a software to take care of this. The excellent Aurora HDR is an easy recommendation because of its lower price and vast array of easy-to-use features.

• Don’t Push ISO Too Much

One of the most important things to remember while shooting night HDR photos is to keep your camera’s ISO at a level where noise doesn’t creep into your photos too much. The maximum usable ISO for every camera differs, and you will have to do some test shots to find this out.

• Invest in Equipment

They say that gear doesn’t matter but in some cases, especially in night photography, it does. You need a camera body that can handle high ISO levels with ease, and a lens that has a wide aperture and is sharp as can be. A cheap lens will encounter high levels of lens flare, which becomes very hard to fix in post, so get a lens that is better suited for night photos.

HDR night photography can be very fun and quite rewarding if you do it right. Make sure you read through all these tips and tricks before heading out for your next project, and you can be sure that you’ll end up with some amazing photos.