Night and Low Light Photography

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If you're ready to challenge your photography skills, shooting low-light and nighttime images is a great way to do it. Night and low-light images not only expand your

understanding of exposure, but they also open a new world of creative challenge, enjoyment, and the potential for lovely results. Some event assignments and stock photography also require you to shoot in low-light scenes and at nighttime, so having a good understanding of how to get good results without excessive digital noise is important.

Sunset and twilight are magical photography times for shooting of subjects such as city skylines, harbors, and downtown buildings. During twilight, the artificial lights in the landscape, such as street and office lights, and the light from the sky reach approximately the same intensity. This crossover lighting time offers a unique opportunity to capture detail in a landscape or city skyline, as well as the sky.

Low-light and night photos also offer a great opportunity to use Manual mode on the 40D. Sample starting exposure recommendations are provided in Table 9.7.

9.19 The great high ISO performance of the 40D opens the door to making dynamic low-light images with much less concern about obnoxious digital noise. Plus you can capture the play of light and raise the level of shadows without having to apply heavy noise reduction during image processing. Exposure: ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/45 sec., using an EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens.

Table 9.7

Ideal Night and Low-Light Exposures


ISO Aperture

Shutter Speed

City skylines

(shortly after sunset) 100 to 400 f/4 to f/8

1/30 second

Full moon

100 f/11

1/125 second


100 f/2.8

1/15 to 1/30 second

Fairs, amusement parks

1/8 to 1/60 second

Fairs, amusement parks

1/8 to 1/60 second

Subject ISO Aperture Shutter Speed

Lightning 100 f/5.6 to f/8 Bulb; keep shutter open for several lightning flashes

Night sports games 400 to 800 f/2.8 1/250 second

Candlelit scenes 100 to 200 f/2.8 to f/4 1/4 second

Neon signs 100 to 200 f/5.6 1/15 to 1/30 second

Freeway lights 100 f/16 1/40 second

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Reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information presented in this book isĀ  accurate. However, the reader should understand that the information provided does not constitute legal, medical or professional advice of any kind.

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