It was a few months back that Andrew came to me with a request. He had been the owner of a new DSLR for some time and was keen to learn some night photography. Could I teach him?
Absolutely, said I. Several calendar conflicts later, we headed to Fells Point on a cold and windy Saturday.
Once our tripods were set, we put our cameras in full manual mode and dropped the ISO down to 100. The lower the ISO number, the less grainy the image. That set, it was time for some experimenting.
Say you want to get an entire scene in focus. Boost up your f-stop number. It closes down the aperture in the lens and brings objects near and far into focus - a large depth of field. However, you'll have to have a slower shutter speed to compensate if you want the image to turn out. The more time that shutter is open, the more light gets in, and the brighter your resulting photograph will be.
There's two exciting side effects here. First, the high f-stop will give the added effect of twinkling stars wherever there's a point source of light in your photograph. Christmas tree lights and streetlamps will both have this interesting star effect. Second, motion will be blurred due to the slow shutter speed. Car headlights will leave streaks, people walking by may be like ghosts, and flags will be a messy blur in the wind. It can give an interesting ephemeral air to your images.
After an hour, Andrew and I could no longer deal with the cold, so we headed back to his place to look at the images we created. A successful time!
Now get out there and capture some great images of the night around you!