Night Photography Trial and Error

Night photography – plants illuminated by streetlight at night
Long exposures of plants illuminated by streetlights at night in Valley Cottage, New York.

Long exposure night photography using ambient light is rather tricky and requires a good amount of trial and error. There have been times when I shoot for a couple hours, only to upload all the photos and realize they are not up to par and will find their way into my computer’s trash can. When this happens, it’s hard not to feel discouraged and that I have wasted my time. I realize this is not the case

as long as I learn from each experience and continue to improve. There are some great night photography tips online to gauge ideal shutter speeds, apertures and camera settings. One of the most helpful articles I’ve read is this one about the ISO 6400 exposure test. It gives me a baseline in regards to exposure time, and makes it a lot easier to figure out what settings I should use.

I recently set out to capture plants illuminated by streetlights at night in my neighborhood. It was before I purchased my Yongnuo MC-36b Timer Remote Shutter Release, so I had to use certain settings to keep my exposure times at 30 seconds or below. Using bulb mode would have required me touching the shutter which would have moved my camera and made the photographs blurry. There was no wind when I took these photos, so the images are nice and sharp.

The equipment and settings I used for the four images are as follows:

Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D
Tripod: Sunpak Pro423PX

Camera Settings
Aperture: f/4
Shutter Speed: 30-seconds
ISO: 400
Self-timer: 2-second delay

Have you had frustrating experiences with long exposure night photography? Keep the conversation going by leaving a comment or question below. I will respond as soon as possible.

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