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Photographing At Night With a DSLR

13/02/13 - Written by Peter Jenkins

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The majority of DSLR cameras have the facility to alter the cameras ISO setting, this means that the chip sensor that captures the image can be tweaked to make it more sensitive to light.

As a guide, an average setting on an overcast but bright day is likely to be in the region of ISO 400. The highest settings on a mid-range camera are likely to be ISO 1600 or ISO 3200. A more advanced camera such as the Canon 50D has an additional two ISO settings (H1 & H2) which help you when taking photographs in very low light or at night. The H1 and H2 settings let you shoot at ISO 6,400 and 12,800 respectively, enabling you to really push the cameras sensitivity to light.

The drawback is a grainy image but some of this grain, or ‘noise’ as it is referred to can be reduced slightly in Photoshop.

The images below were taken from a distance of 300m, it was a ¾ moon which was high and behind me with sparse cloud. Manual focus was used by focusing on the light from the windows.

The dark picture illustrates what could actually be seen by the naked eye. The second image was taken using a shutter speed of a 15th of a second, (tripod mounted), with an aperture of f5.6. The ISO was pushed to 12,800.

Experiment and even take your shutter speeds down to 30 seconds but you need a tripod and shutter release.

When you zoom into the image, the detail is quite phenomenal considering how dark it was. Who needs night vision optics...? If you don't want to go outside, try it in your living room with all the lights out.

If you wish to learn more, enrol on one of our Surveillance Photography Courses


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