1. Poets have often equated night with sinister and evil events, giving it a negative connotation in opposition to the bright, positive sunlit hours. For photographers, the night is the other half of a 24-hour day that is generally neglected as being too dark for creative shooting. Nothing could be further from the truth. Night may be the absence of sunlight, but artificial lighting (and the moon and stars) still illuminates the same scenes and objects that are there during the day, just differently. That’s where creativity resides. You must be willing step into the night and find it.
2. An excellent experiment is to experience the night from a photographic perspective without the use of your camera. Most humans spend the nighttime hours in their residences, and sleeping, so it’s likely you don’t know the night as well as you think you do. Schedule a few nighttime walks through your neighborhood and city. Leave your camera at home. Primarily, you want to notice how the light that is available illuminates the night environment. Make one of your walks (or drives) in the downtown section of a city. Visit a brightly lit retail area of your town. For contrast, drive into the country on the night of a full moon and notice how the moon lights objects differently than artificial lights. If you’re serious about nighttime photography opportunities, then schedule your scouting trips at different times during the night, including the wee hours.
3. Common objects that you see or use during the day often become more interesting at night. They become creative subject matter because photos taken of them after sundown communicate a different mood or feeling than they would at midday.
4. Be particularly observant of how the outlines of shapes can be more distinct, whether they can be recognized or are just in silhouette. A tree branch, the texture of a brick wall and the pattern of bumper-to-bumper cars on a brightly lit city street seem to be more visible or evident.
5. At night, colors seem to come from a different palette. It is as if there is an entirely unique set of colors for the night. They are garish when mixed with plenty of black, while other colors appear muted and subtle. The colors define the scene or object/subject, but become secondary to the shapes and high contrast.
6. Look for silhouettes and shadows. Silhouettes are a rather obvious creative approach for nighttime images, so try to avoid the clichés and think of unique ways to use the silhouette technique. The shadows of night are too often overlooked. Light creates another set of shapes when casting shadows; plus, a shadow is what creates the high contrast that can make night photos so interesting.
7. Overhead lighting is another element of the night that has no effect during the day; so many photographers forget these ready-made lighting sources. It’s another reason to explore the night environment. Although a bit of a cliché too, the regular pattern of a circle of lights on the pavement from a series of overhead fixtures creates a “night studio” where you can capture more artistic images. Colored overhead lights in an entertainment venue, for example, give faces an unusual cast and charge the atmosphere with a far different mood than during the day.
8. One of the reasons to visit a city’s downtown area at night is to see how monolithic structures, such as skyscrapers and government buildings, reveal aspects of their architecture that are rather mundane, boring and unappealing in daylight. Backlights on the courthouse entry pillars suddenly create depth and a dynamic perspective.
9. You can make the night the time when you shine the brightest, creatively; finding and capturing outstanding images while most other photographers are snoring.
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Photo by PhotographyTalk Member Shadowfixer1