Night time is beautiful. Last week I completely fell in love with it, as the lush colours gave me atmospheres I couldn’t get during the day. While also still taking portraits, during the day I tried my best to seek out little moments that are funny when put into a frame.
As mentioned last week, I wanted to try to get better images at night and work on the problems I have had with shooting when it’s dark. While most of the action during the day happens in the big, busy streets, at night small alleys and fewer people give you more chances to get a good shot. I was roaming the narrow residential areas, eventually crossing busier streets from time to time. Like a moth, I was buzzing from light source to light source and looking for interesting subjects. The great thing at night is that everything can become a great subject. Even the light itself.
Due to shooting wide open at often F/1.8 or F/1.4 however, not all compositions work. Greater distances between objects mean loosing focus of some, which destroys the image in some cases. So what worked best for me was either getting really close or using the shallow depth of field to my advantage. As we all know, blurry lights look pretty amazing. Include some people in between them and you get great images with sometimes almost abstract elements. Using such a small aperture can make you very creative because you have to work around certain issues.
Getting the colours right
In the past, the colours of my images at night were never how I wanted them to be. It might be because of my camera but I found that increasing the saturation and vibrance in Lightroom can let you get much closer to what the colours really were like. This has to be done with care though. Just like the clarity, saturation and vibrance are something you can easily get lost in without noticing it. So only increase it for a small amount and compare it with the unedited file. This way you have a reference to what the neutral level is.
What I still struggled with was focussing. Low light situations often make it hard for the camera to autofocus, so you will often have to use manual focus. I’m not great at manual focussing during the day but it’s good enough to get the job done when needed. But when shooting at a small aperture at night, it gets so hard to get your subject sharp. Especially when it’s moving it feels like an impossible task to me. Combined with me often not seeing whether something is perfectly sharp or not in the viewfinder, it made me struggle a lot with focussing. So it’s still something I have to work on in order to get those shots
Looking for something special
When out during the day, I still tried to take a lot of close up portraits. But since I’m seeing interesting faces in abundance here, I was looking for something more special about a person or the setting when going in for a close up. I still snap a lot of portraits here and there, but I often don’t find them interesting enough to be a keeper. Some of them on the other hand have everything what I want a portrait to have.
This guy for example had something so peaceful and timeless about him holding that book. It’s probably one of my favourite portraits that I have taken so far.
While I usually try to include something surreal or maybe dreamy into my images, I’m also a huge fan of “funny” street photography. When done right it is such an intelligent form of entertainment. I’m currently trying to do a lot of it as well. Taking the image at that decisive moment when you finally spot something is extremely challenging for me. It like looking for the needle in the needle in a haystack, but that needle is only present for a millisecond. Even though it is quite hard to get good images, when you do get something it is so rewarding. The motivation is still high and practice will only make you better, I guess.
The only thing helpful I’ve discovered so far is to not think at all. Shutting the brain off and just shooting whenever something appears to be even just a little out of the ordinary, makes the chances of getting a good image at least a bit better. It’s a lot of fun to focus on such images for a change and I hope I can get some good ones until next week.