How to take pictures at night: pro tips for spotting creative scenes after dark

How to take pictures at night: pro tips for spotting creative scenes after dark

In our latest Professional Photographer to the Rescue post our pro shows our apprentice how to take pictures at night by spotting scenes with creative potential and setting up your camera to capture them.

How to take pictures at night: pro tips for spotting creative scenes after dark

Meet our professional photographer

Simon Stanmore is an experienced, London-based commercial photographer who specialises in architectural images and is an expert at capturing the unique atmosphere of the City at night. Simon is a regular of the Getty stock library.

Meet our apprentice

Caroline Grayson, from Surrey, has been an amateur photographer for a number of years. She wants to take memorable shots of London after dark, but isn’t sure where to start

Technique Assessment

To get a clearer idea of Caroline’s particular strengths and weaknesses, Simon asked her 
to start shooting near two famous City landmarks – the Lloyds building and the ‘Gherkin’

How to take pictures at night: shoot in raw format

Shoot in the RAW format
Caroline was shooting in JPEG format so she could fit all her photos on her 4Gb card. She also wasn’t sure about the benefits of shooting in RAW, so Simon explained why it’s great for night shots. “A RAW image is your ‘digital negative’,” he said. “You have more control over RAW images in Photoshop and can accurately improve exposure, contrast, colours and white balance for top-quality results.”


How to take pictures at night: use manual mode

Choose Manual mode
“Caroline is still mastering her DSLR and sticks to Av (Aperture Priority) mode,” noted Simon. 
“I always shoot in Manual at night. With practice, Manual mode makes it easier to shoot well exposed images because you can freely control the aperture and shutter speed – unlike Av and Tv (Shutter Priority) modes. I can check exposure as required via the Exposure Level Indicator on the top screen.”

PAGE 1: Meet our professional photographer and apprentice
PAGE 2: Tips on how to take pictures at night
PAGE 3: Final tips from our professional photographer
PAGE 4: Our professional photographer’s recommended gear
PAGE 5: Shot of the Day


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  • Matthew Thompson

    I thought that most of the tonal scale was on the right of the histogram..? Therefore using an over-exposure and ‘darkening’ this in RAW will bring out a greater tonal detail..!