So, you've just bought your DSLR camera, and you want to start taking great photos at night. Just follow these five simple tips, and you'll be taking professional level pictures in no time.
SWITCH OUT OF AUTOMATIC MODE
In most situations your DSLR is probably sophisticated enough to take an excellent quality of photographs without any fiddling with the settings. Unfortunately, night time tends to confuse it, and you will need to switch to manual mode in order to get the kind of pictures that you'll be proud of. On most DSLRs, this is done simply by moving the command dial from its default position to manual mode (normally marked with an ‘M').
OPEN UP THE APERTURE
The key to taking great night time photos is to maximise the amount of light to which your camera is exposed. To do this, you will need to increase the size of the aperture at the front of the camera. While DSLRs vary, most will have a dedicated control wheel to adjust the size of the aperture, and a readout informing you of its current setting. The readout will either be on an independent digital screen at the back of the camera, or on the viewfinder. Click the control wheel around until the ‘F number’ which indicates the aperture status is as low as it can go.
SLOW DOWN THE SHUTTER SPEED
Another way of manipulating the amount of light your camera is exposed to involves changing the shutter speed. Again, this is likely to be done through a control wheel on your DSLR. Move the wheel until the shutter speed read out is expressed as 1 second, which is normally done through the symbol 1". Take a test picture of the night sky, and if 1" is too dim, try dialling up to 5", and so on. Keep on going until you've found the perfect shutter speed for the conditions.
LOWER THE ISO
Of course, you want high quality pictures, and in order for this to happen you will need to lower the ISO of your camera as far down as it can go. Consult your manual as to how to do this, as features on different cameras vary.
PLACE YOUR CAMERA STEADILY
Such long exposures will normally overpower your DSLRs built in ‘anti shake’ mechanisms. In order to get a high quality photo, you will need either to mount the camera on a tripod, or find a ledge or other steady surface to rest it on. In order to avoid introducing shaking when you press the button to take the photo, set up your camera's “self timer" function and delay the taking of the photo by a few seconds.