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    Cities at night: how to photograph urban areas mixing natural and artificial light

    | Night | Photography Tips | 15/08/2013 11:50am
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    Photographing cities at night can prove challenging for many photographers who struggle to get an accurate exposure. In this urban night photography tutorial we explain how to mix artificial and natural light for a more balanced shot.

    Cities at night: how to photograph natural and artificial light

    When shooting city scenes at night, or more specifically at twilight, there are two sources of light; one from artificial sources such as street lamps and the other from residual natural light.

    The problem is that if one is brighter than the other, the resulting picture will have some parts that are correctly exposed but other areas that are either very dark (under-exposed) or very bright (over-exposed) depending on how you have taken the meter reading.

    The solution is to time the taking of your images so that the light levels from these different sources is the same, which will then produce an evenly exposed shot. Here’s how you do it…

    How to photograph cities at night

    How to photograph cities at night: step 1

    01 Mix artificial and natural
    When shooting down town at night, artificial light will play a major role in illuminating the scene, but don’t dismiss the importance of natural light, especially with regard to the sky. By making use of this residual light you can avoid black skies and produce a well-exposed shot with detail throughout.

     

    How to photograph cities at night: step 2

    02 Use spot metering
    For a balanced shot, light levels from the sky and artificial light need to be roughly the same. This is easy to determine by taking a spot meter reading from both the sky (A) and an area of the scene that’s well lit by artificial light (B). If the sky is too bright, wait for it to get darker and take another reading.

     

    How to photograph cities at night: step 3

    03 Perfect timing
    At the point when the sky is still slightly brighter (1-stop) start shooting using the spot metered settings for the artificially lit part of the scene. Continue to take pictures using these exposures. For about 10 minutes the scene will be evenly lit and two or three shots will be perfectly exposed.

    READ MORE

    10 common exposure problems every photographer faces (and how to solve them)
    Night Photography: how to set up your camera to shoot anything
    City photography: tips for taking pictures of buildings and cities
    Bulb mode: how to get pro-quality shots in low light
    Night photography exposure guide: free cheat sheet


    Posted on Thursday, August 15th, 2013 at 11:50 am under Night, Photography Tips.

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