Photography is all about capturing fleeting fragments of light. From sunup to sundown, photographers manipulate shadows and light to create striking images, and many pack their gear away when sunlight fades. But those shooters are missing out on some seriously fun photo opportunities: Nighttime presents an entire world of picture-making possibilities.
Since most film cameras today are disposable or for the pros, we'll restrict our focus to digital cameras. However, it should be noted that many of these same concepts apply to film photography, too.
There are some technical challenges specific to nighttime shooting with a digital camera. Your camera has a sensor that's light-sensitive and optimized for daytime use. That's why a camera's basic automatic mode isn't much good for nighttime shots unless you want nothing but flash-filled snapshots. To take better (and more creative) night pictures, you'll need a solid grasp of a few manual features on your digital camera. You'll also need a good dose of patience and a willingness to explore your camera's capabilities.
Thanks to the LCD screen on your digital camera, you can quickly review your images and make adjustments until you've created the picture your imagination desires. You can play with motion blur (think of moving cars and fireworks), capture epic star trails or maybe even catch eerie moments from a game of flashlight tag.
You can certainly turn on the flash and take pictures in the dark; entire books have been written about creative applications of flash. But to keep things simpler, we'll focus on flashless night pictures.
Keep reading to learn how you can use your camera to take great pictures at night. With just a little preparation and a basic understanding of a digital camera's manual features, you'll be able to compose fun, artful pictures even after the sun blinks out and shadows rule.