I was recently asked to do a photo shoot at a Williamsburg-based restaurant (possibly more on that later). Having been to the restaurant before, I knew that I definitely needed a tripod. Like so many places in Brooklyn, it really comes alive at night: dimmed soft lights inside, colorful street lights outside, open windows, cool tunes… in other words, cozy, trendy, inviting. But to capture that “feel” in a low light situation can be a challenge… which is why I find Live View function on my Canon Rebel XSi very handy. In situations when it is difficult to look through the viewfinder (i.e. when it’s dark), it allows me to change framing, exposure, focus, etc. and see how it affects the overall image before I take the shot.
Most of my night photographs are done without flash (unless it’s of a person or close-by object since flash doesn’t really “travel” far) and long exposure (8 sec and longer). And for that, all you really need is a tripod and a very useful shutter release cable to reduce even minimal camera shake. From my experience, photographing at night requires extra precision, timing, and definitely practice. There are a lot of techniques out there for achieving various “light” effects. One tip that I’ve been using multiple times is what’s called a “star” effect. To make your lights look more like pointy stars and not soft ovals, set your aperture to f/8 or smaller. However, the “stars” can overpower the picture in some instances, so use it wisely.
Below are some of my recent night images taken around New York City.