Exploring Night Photography – Lesson 2

Published: Apr 13, 2016
Updated: May 11, 2016

Last week we covered the beginnings: what is a photograph, manual mode, self timer, and did some experiments. This week we delve into different disciplines of night photography – creative ideas and look at the settings used.

Before we do that, let’s answer those questions we asked:

  1. Mastering the basics: The three components of an exposure are  APERTURE (f/stop),  ISO (sensitivity), and  SPEED (exposure length)
  2. To get a good exposure if you change the (a) APERTURE you must change the (b) ISO or (c) SPEED.
  3. What does “1 stop” (up/down) mean?
    One stop up means twice the exposure length or twice the ISO, or one f/stop larger aperture.
  4. How can you judge the “quality” of a photo without looking at the photo? (This is not a trick question!)
    The histogram! Hopefully you used that when doing your experiments/homework from last week.


This week is nearly identical to our free Night Photography 101 webinar. Unfortunately the slideshow doesn’t include settings, but many of the photos do if you click them.  Students will be getting a PDF file that DOES have the exposure information in it.

Creative Ideas

Exposure Tips

  • Use that histogram Display!
  • Do not be afraid to experiment – and even bracket shots like you might in daytime.

Last Week’s Homework

About last week’s homework: If you tried to get a shot showing both the MOON with details and STARS… you failed. With the current cameras, the dynamic range between all but the brightest stars and the dimmest moon is just TOO great to have both except when the moon is eclipsed.

This Week’s Homework

  1.  Check your camera manual and find out how to turn on over exposure (and under exposure) indicators. Canon and Nikon call this a “Highlight Alert” or similar.
  2.  Take a photo that includes stars and force the exposure to “clip” (over expose) the stars but *not* most of the sky.  (Hint adjust the ISO and exposure time to accomplish this task).
  3.  Pick a creative direction illustrated by the photographs above and give it a try. If weather does not work out for you, the simplest creative experiment to try is to point the camera at lights and move the camera while taking an exposure… like this, for example:Leaving on a Jet Plane
    This was accomplished by shooting through a plane window as it was taking off. No plane handy? Try this instead.
  4. See if you can work out how to make yourself semi transparent. You may or may not need help.  Hint: You will probably need to use your flash and will need to have not completely dark surroundings.
    Transparent Steven 5285

Next up… Lesson 3.

What do you think about this?