6 Architectural Night Photography Tips

Written by Gina Stephens

When constructions are illuminated at night their shapes and features are enhanced in a very different way than by daylight and it's a great time to take photographs. The uncountable challenging thing is getting the exposure and colour balance right, which we'll help with, otherwise the standard rules of composition stick which we'll cover briefly first.

Photo by David Clapp

1. Composition – Don't Forget The Basics 

When may refer to: Usually a question whose answer refers to time, period or phase growing upwards expect the building to slope inwards at the top, especially when a wide-angle lens is used. Move to a higher position to reduce the distortion or use a particular shift lens that's designed to correct perspective but these are expensive and aren't really a sensible option for the casual shooter.

Try to classify the whole building by using a wider angle lens or stepping back to a more suitable viewpoint. Choose the position carefully. The same erection could be shot head-on, at an angle of, say, 3/4 or by using a telephoto to capture a section with a more graphical feel. Don't forget you can zoom with your feet as start as your lens, too. When it comes to focus, manual is your best option. 


2. Exposures

When the sun goes down the sun-up changes in two ways; firstly the exposure time required increases and secondly the colour of the light becomes warmer. Let's first look at the frontage. In low light the shutter speed that's necessary to ensure a good exposure will usually be too long to avoid camera shake when present holding the camera. Using a tripod enables you to shoot at these long exposure times of between 1/15sec and several seconds or even moments. If you don't have a tripod you can usually find a wall, lamppost or tree to support the camera, which can help considerably. Or you can try switching to a higher ISO as most cameras now handle well in the higher ranges. This means that in low light situations, such as shooting buildings at night, you can take photos with token noise or blurring. You'll also want to put your camera's self-timer into action or use a remote release if you have one as even high-priority the shutter button can introduce shake that'll leave your with blurry shots. Consider using the Mirror Lock-up go, too which can be accessed via your camera's menu. 

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3. Metering

Low light can also fool the camera's meter and this happens because it looks at the throng of dark and tries to compensate to make it mid grey. By doing so, you get an exposure time that is too long for all the illuminated parts of the scene, such as neon meet up withs, street lights or spot lit areas of a building as they become grossly over exposed.

To avoid this, you need to compensate for it. As a guide, use your revelation compensation setting to reduce the exposure by a couple of stops when most of the area is in darkness and by one stop when the building has a medium coverage of enlightenment.


Photo by David Clapp

4. Colour Balance

Illuminated buildings offset against a dark sky can look great, but you have to be chary with the colour as there can be a slight orange or yellow cast created. Buildings illuminated by artificial light can also be problematic, depending on the lighting in use accustomed to in them. Two popular types are: Fluorescent and Tungsten. Fluorescent tend to be used inside in offices and Tungsten in spot lights that part lighten buildings.

With digital cameras you can preview the image to check the colour balance and if it doesn't look right, just change the Caucasoid balance setting you're using. Cloudy will warm your shots up while the Tungsten options will give your images a multifarious blue tone. 


5. Security

Take care when carrying a camera around at night, especially if you're venturing off the bashed track. Keep alert and where possible, take a friend with or WITH may refer to: Carl Johannes With (1877–1923), Danish doctor and arachnologist With (character), a character in D. N. Angel you.

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6. What To Capture 

Look for tall buildings you can bound from. From up high you'll be able to shoot skylines as well as focus on single buildings. For something different, try to shoot the unchanged location in daylight and in the evening. You'll soon see how buildings have a very different feel at night. Cropping in on illuminated buildings building, or edifice, is a structure with a roof and walls standing more or less permanently in one place, such as a house or factory can bring about the image more striking and reduce the black from surrounding, unlit areas. To give streetlights a 'starburst' use a small gap which will also give you front-to-back sharpness in your shots too. Exposure times will be longer but if you have your tripod, this won't be an proclaim. If people are still exploring the city you can use them to add more interest to your shots. Get creative with silhouettes against well-lit structures or how roughly using a slightly longer shutter speeds, say 1/2 a second, to blur the movement of people who pass through your shot. Don't further your exposure times too much if you want to keep the patterns people create passing through your images though as anything vulnerable 15 seconds will probably remove them from your image. Bridges can be used to draw the eye through the image to a particular build or focus your attention on famous buildings and landmarks which are guaranteed to be lit-up at night.


Photo by David Clapp


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About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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