Nighttime photography can be tricky. I have pictures from traveling that are too dark, while others are unnecessarily bright from the flash. With just a quick change in your camera’s settings, your nighttime photos can turn out significantly better.
Slow shutter speed and slow-sync flash are both beautiful and helpful nighttime camera techniques. To use these settings, you need to have both a digital camera and a camera that can control shutter speed. Generally on cameras, the automatic flash corresponds with a fast shutter speed, which helps capture moving targets in low-light settings. However, this automatic flash can make the subject appear brighter and darker in different areas of your photograph.
If you are taking a picture of a setting in the nighttime, shoot your picture with longer shutter speed and turn the flash off. The longer exposure collects elements from the landscape, making your picture actually brighter than it would be with an automatic flash. These two photographs from the top of the Eiffel Tower display the difference in lighting (the slower shutter speed is much brighter).
Cameras run slower on a longer shutter speed, which means you should have a tripod to put your camera on or a space to rest your camera down during the process of taking photos. If you simply take a picture on a slower shutter speed with your hands, the picture will come out blurry.
Slow sync flash is slightly different in that the camera has both a slow shutter speed and a flash. With this setting, subjects can be in motion, resulting in interesting background effects. In this picture the slow sync flash actually creates a “ghost effect” because there are two overlapping images of the subject’s movement.
These techniques are incredibly fun to experiment with. The next time you are overlooking a city at night, lower your camera’s shutter speed – it will make all the difference!