Shoot Photos Like a Pro: Night Photography

Avoid grainy nighttime shots by shooting at a low ISO.

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Problem: Night shots often contain lots of digital noise, or graininess. Solution: “You want to use the lowest ISO you can,” says Stableford, “and take as long of an exposure as you need. Shooting at a low ISO, you’ll get a cleaner image with more detail.” Here’s how to get four night shots.

» Campfire

Night scenes demand a shutter speed of a second or longer, so steady the camera on a sandbag or tripod. In manual mode, bracket the shot with exposures just over (+1) and under (-1) what the meter suggests. Throw some dry tinder on the fire right before you shoot to make it flare up and illuminate your subjects, advises Stableford.

» Glowing tents Use a small “slave flash” (they cost as little as $18; bhphotovideo.com). Put one inside your tent (facing away from your camera for more diffused light); the remote flash triggers when its sensor registers your camera’s flash. Or turn your headlamp to its brightest setting and leave it on in the tent (but the slave flash lets you shoot with faster speeds).

» Light painting Mount your camera on a tripod and compose a shot. Set the shutter to “bulb” and leave it open for a minute or more. During the long exposure, use your headlamp to “paint” the scene with light. The camera will catch the light streaks, allowing you to draw images or even words.

» Stars Grab a tripod and locate Polaris, the North Star—around which all other stars appear to rotate—and compose it according to the rule of thirds. Leave the shutter open for one to four hours.