Get perfect photos at night with this simple technique

Night photography is incredibly popular today given the low-light capabilities of just about any modern interchangeable lens camera. By using long exposures, it’s possible to reveal details in a dark scene that are otherwise invisible. A landscape lit only by the moon looks strikingly different than the same shot taken during the day.

This type of photography is not without its challenges, however. Even with cameras that offer very high ISO settings, cleaner images will always come from using a lower ISO and a long shutter speed. The problem arises when the required shutter speed drops below the longest programmed speed of the camera (usually 30 seconds). This is where the “bulb” feature of a camera comes in handy because it holds the shutter open for as long as the shutter button is pressed. (A wired cable release is helpful here, as it can lock the shutter open without needing to keep your finger pressed on the button.)

Unfortunately, since the bulb setting could be anywhere between 30 seconds and three days, your camera’s built-in light meter ceases to become useful. It will show you that you need more than 30 seconds, but how do you know if you need 35 seconds or 35 minutes?

Related: This Smartphone Comes with a Night-Vision Camera.

One way is simply to guess and check, but with such long exposures, this can become grueling. Photographer Karl Taylor offers up a simpler technique on PetaPixel. Yes, it does involve a bit of math, but it’s quite straightforward.

As Taylor explains in the above video, take test photos at shorter shutter speeds, raising the ISO and opening the aperture until you get a proper exposure. At that point, dial back your ISO to its base value and stop your aperture down to get the desired depth of field. Next, add the equivalent amount of time to the shutter speed to achieve the same level of exposure.

Taylor goes over the process step by step, one stop at a time, to reveal that his test shot of one second at f/2.8 and ISO 6400 is equivalent to 16 minutes at f/11 and ISO 100. As you become more familiar with exposure values, you should be able to quickly add and subtract stops in your head, but even moving up and down one stop at a time is faster than taking multiple test shots until you get to 16 minutes.

Product Review

The Black Shark gaming phone takes a big bite out of your free time, but the software sinks it

The world is being treated to an ever-increasing number of high-powered gaming phones. With so many great options already out, is there room for another? The Black Shark thinks so. But is it any good? We find out.

From DSLRs to mirrorless, these are the best cameras you can buy right now

From entry-level models to full-frame flagships, many cameras take great photos and video. The best digital cameras, however, push the industry forward with innovative sensors and improved usability, among other things. Here are our…
Product Review

The Brava Oven takes all the thinking out of cooking

Using bulbs to cook food at different light frequencies, the Brava Oven lets even the clueless cook a tasty meal. But your own smart chef doesn’t come cheap.

The OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition comes with 10GB of RAM, and supercar style

OnePlus has partnered with McLaren F1, creating the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition. With 10GB of RAM and all the usual top-level hardware, this new flagship killer comes with some new design touches.

Photographers can now customize the layout of Lightroom Classic controls

Tired of scrolling past Lightroom tools that you don't use? Adobe Lightroom Classic now allows users to reorganize the Develop panel. The update comes along with new sharing options in Lightroom CC, and updates to the mobile Lightroom app.
Social Media

Instagram could be making a special type of account for influencers

Instagram influencers fall somewhere between a business profile and a typical Instagram, so the company is working on developing a type of account just for creators. The new account type would give creators more access to analytical data.

Leave the laptop at home, the iPad Pro is the travel buddy to take on vacay

The iPad Pro is a powerful tablet that's perfect for creatives and professionals. How does it fare when traveling with it as a laptop replacement? We took it on a two week trek in Japan to find out.

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…

These are the best action cameras money can buy

Action cameras are great tools for capturing videos of your everyday activities, whether it's a birthday party or the steepest slope you've ever descended on your snowboard. These are the best money can buy.

Canon holiday sale features the Rebel T6 2-lens kit for just $449

If you have a budding photographer in your life in need of a real camera, the Canon EOS Rebel T6 could make the perfect gift. Canon is currently offering the camera in a two-lens bundle for just $449 through December 29.
Emerging Tech

Light, speed: Lighting kit for DJI Mavic 2 lets you fly and film in the dark

Lume Cube, maker of small battery-powered LED lights for mobile photography, has announced a new lighting kit built specifically for the DJI Mavic 2 -- the first of its kind. Already our favorite drone, this makes the Mavic 2 even better.
Social Media

Instagram’s 2018 year in review shines a light on where our hearts are

What did Instagram users share the most in 2018? A lot of heart emojis, heart face filters, and heart GIFs. The platform recently shared the year's top trends, including hashtags like #fortnite and #metoo along with a few surprises.

Want a fun, affordable instant camera? The Fujifilm Instax Mini 7S is just $49

Instant cameras have had a surprising resurgence of late, and no brand is better recognized in the instant photo space today than Fujifilm Instax. Walmart is currently offering the Instax Mini 7S for just $49.

Not just for Lightroom anymore, Loupedeck+ now works with Photoshop

Loupedeck+ can now help photographers edit in Photoshop too, thanks to physical controls for swapping tools, running actions, and more. The photo-editing console expanded to include Photoshop in the list of compatible editing programs.