Night Time Street Photography

With winter bringing daylight hours down I have found myself shooting more at night. Shooting at night is quite unusual for me and once more, variation raises its head and kicks consistencies arse. Here are some ramblings about what I found. Some of this may help you become a better Street Photographer.

Technical Stuff
Firstly, I have started to get to know my camera better. I need to locate and adjust the ISO and aperture with the camera to my eye. This practice is making me a better photographer, changing the settings becomes more fluid, making the camera a conduit between myself and my subject matter.

Read any ‘guide’ to shooting at night and you will soon realise you are going to be using those high ISO numbers. This is true, but what is also not discussed so often is the spot metering mode. Using this mode, you can frame your shot and expose for the highlights. Everything in the shadows will appear in a dark and mysterious light, but the source of light will not overly dominate the shot.

Back button framing is often referred to as back button focusing and is useful for the above. Most cameras are set up to focus and measure the light when using the back button. However, if you delve into the menu you will find you can set it just to measure light. Learn to use this button.

With high ISO’s noise becomes a problem. Noise can look quite good with B&W, but I am trying to be more consistent with my use of colour. I currently use Macphun Denoise and have just downloaded a trial of Topaz Denoise. So far I prefer Macphun, it is easier to use and appears to produce superior results.

Lastly on the technical side. I get to use my Nikor 35mm 1.8lens. Kit lenses can be cheap and effective, but not at night. Get yourself a prime.

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Smoke and Light

Locations
Alleyways are my favourite places to shoot, however, the grittier ones are off limits at night as there is just no light. Secondly, they can be quite scary! However, around these alleys there are still street food vendors, they are brightly lit with bare lightbulbs and have some flames, smoke and steam creating interest.

Shops are a pretty poor subjects during the day. How many times have you seen an interesting subject in a shop window, taken the photo and found you have taken a picture of your reflection?

City centers are always awash with light, but I have avoided going to them so far. I like the outskirts, what can I say? This is something on the planned but not promised list.

Timing
Shooting at night doubles the amount of time you can shoot street photography. It is an area of Street Photography I advocate everybody try.

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

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