When the sun sets I pack up my camera gear and head out to find something interesting to shoot. It is the eeriness of the night that attracts me, the vast empty landscapes, the people less streets and the traffic free roads in the early hours of the morning. When it’s dead quiet and all you can hear is the satisfying clunk of your shutter after you have taken a long exposure photograph, that’s when I’m in my element.
Night photography is not as difficult as some may think and it doesn’t have to be that technical either! All I do is simply load whatever film I have available into my camera, make sure that the camera I am using is set to the B shutter setting, grab my tripod and shutter release cable and away I go. If you don’t have a tripod you can always steady your camera on a wall and if you don’t have a shutter release cable then I suggest using a small strip of gaffer tape to hold your shutter release button down (this works a treat for the Lomography Fisheye2, which doesn’t have anywhere to screw in a shutter release cable).
I first fell in love with night photography while I was studying my A Levels at college. I remember being instantly intrigued by some night photography slides I found in one of Bill Brandt’s books, which led me to go about taking some night shots of my own. To give me some tips on how to take night shots my tutor at the time gave me an article about a photographer called Michael Kenna. In this article, Kenna gave examples of exposure times and tips on taking night shots, which I used as a base to start taking my own shots. It wasn’t until I looked at Kenna’s work in more detail that I realized how fantastic night photography could be. The way Kenna captures light and the atmosphere around him is truly inspiring to me. Some of Michael Kenna’s exposure times are really long which creates amazing results, especially when the image contains elements which are moving. His seascapes for example are among my favourites.
I would strongly suggest that anyone with a Lomo camera or SLR tries out some night photography for themselves. My quick tip for exposure times is… between 2 – 5 minutes for areas with street lighting nearby, between 10 – 30 minutes for places where there are no street lights, then if you are somewhere that has no light pollution at all or if it’s a particularly dark night, try using exposure times longer that an hour.
Now I’ve shared my love of night photography, I’m interested in what you love! What’s your favourite style of photography? When do you most enjoy taking pictures? And do you have any favourite photographers? Please share your thoughts with a comment below!
Danny Wood is the frontman of a punk rock band called The Panicstruck, he also works as a Web Designer, is a keen Lomographer and runs his own Analogue Photography Blog.