Shooting Night Scenes

Scenics by Jordan Fink Photography

Scenics by Jordan Fink Photography

At one time or another, we’ve all shot images at night. Whether it is the moon or Christmas lights or a lit scene there are certain rules that one must understand. The camera will not see and reproduce the vast EV differences in the lights and the surrounding objects except for the immediate objects that the light is falling on.

HDR can help compensate for a lot of the differences but probably not fully and separately shot images at ranging settings can help to a degree too depending on the end goal. After all, the moon is incredibly bright compared to a dark sky. That’s why you usually see an image of a full moon superimposed on an image of the scene.

Have you ever tried to shoot an image of the sun within a landscape. If the sun is exposed correctly you have with sun flares and the scene is dark or the scene is exposed correctly and the sun is way over exposed to where you can barely see it.

I think that the best solution is to mark the location and come back to shoot the scene (if you can) at a later date when there is still some daylight in the scene. Don’t let the sun go down to where the sky is black. Even a little daylight in the sky is better than black skies.

One possible solution is to not concern yourself with the correct exposure of the lights and bracket your shooting to over expose the scene. The lights will become brighter and you can pick up some ambient light as well. Many times, an overexposed scene can really bring out some very interesting results.

There is always the option of combining images to create a single image. This is usually done if the elements are of very different values of brightness. Like I said before, most images, if not all that you see at night with a full moon in it is a combination of images. The moon is just too bright to include detail in it with a dark sky too.

The supplied image is a combination of 2 images. The palm trees at dusk and the moon during an eclipse. It just wouldn’t have been able to record the moon and sky at the same time rendering detail like I wanted in the moon.