How to shoot at night with a compact camera

You do not need a DSLR to capture Singapore's nocturnal urban landscape. A digital compact camera, such as the Casio Exilim EX-100 or Sony Cyber-shot RX100III, will do. Here are some tips on how to go about it.

Use the two-second timer shutter release function: Even with a tripod, the slightest movement - such as when you press the shutter release - will cause camera shake and lead to a blurred image. You can prevent this by using the two-second timer function. Alternatively, many digital cameras now allow remote control via a smartphone app. Use the app to activate the shutter release. 

Use as wide an angle as possible: The wider the angle of view, the less impact camera shake will have on your photography. Even slight movements get magnified as the angle of view narrows. If you need to zoom in, move yourself or move the tripod closer to your subject.

Use a tripod: With much less light to work with at night, you will usually have to use very slow shutter speeds, ranging from 1sec to 30sec. To ensure that your pictures are sharp, mount your camera securely on a tripod. Make sure the tripod is steady and set up correctly.

Use manual mode: To capture light trails, you will need a long exposure of at least a few seconds. For a starburst effect, keep the aperture at around f/8 or smaller. To avoid image noise, shoot at lower ISO settings. You may not be able to achieve this if you use modes such as Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority. Use manual mode instead and experiment with different settings to get the best results.

Plan your shots: Scout for good locations in the daytime and imagine what it might look like at night. It does not always need to be the Singapore skyline at Marina Bay. Walk around your neighbourhood to find interesting scenes, intriguing architecture or compelling places with a different juxtaposition of elements. Most importantly, enjoy the whole process of shooting at night.

 

This article was published on Aug 27 in Digital Life, The Straits Times.

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