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10 Awesome Night Photography Ideas, Techniques, and Tips

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

This article is jam-packed with night photography ideas. Many photographers are apprehensive about shooting at night. Because photography is all about light, shooting at night can be difficult when you’re sitting in the dark.

This article will explore some ideas and night photography tips to keep you motivated if you are looking for help and inspiration. Consider night photography as a way to confront your technical fears and experiment with your photographic abilities. We will assist you in preparing for night photography shots and making the best use of your photo subjects and exposure settings.

The exposure settings for each of the photo subjects below will vary, but if you’re looking for some general go-to settings for shooting at night, start with these:

Set your shutter speed to around 1/15th of a second
Set your ISO to 6400
Finally, use a lens with an f/2.8 aperture or wider

If your aperture does not open very wide, you will need to adjust the shutter and ISO more to achieve the desired effect in your night photography.

Shooting Cities at Night

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Photos of the night sky with city lights are an interesting way to put your night photography ideas to the test. New York and Paris are two of my favorite cities to photograph at night. These cities are well-known for their stunning nighttime scenery, architecture, and street lights, as well as being among the most photogenic in the world. You can completely change the mood of the city by using long exposure settings.

When shooting a city at night, make a shot list before leaving the house; it’s easy to get lost in large cities, so it’s best to plan your photo locations ahead of time.

Consider various vantage points and compositions that would work well in low light. Arrive at your location before sunset to find the best spots for the perfect nighttime shot.

When it comes to achieving proper exposure for night photography, photography tips vary greatly. The most important thing, however, is to bring a camera that is better suited to shooting at night.

For example, a camera with a large sensor, a camera with higher ISO capabilities, and a lens with a wider aperture, such as f/2.8, will give you more control over your subjects.

It is also critical that your camera be set to full manual mode for night photography. You may need a tripod as well, but for urban photography, you may be able to rest your camera on a stable wall or nearby bench.

Making Light Trails

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Light trail photography is one of the most popular nighttime photography ideas. These colorful effects, similar to light painting, are produced when a photographer sets their camera to a slow shutter speed, such as 1/30th of a second, to create long exposures. They cause long streaks of light to appear across the image.

Consider how you can create moving light effects using traffic lights, cars, and speeding trains to add a wow factor to your nighttime street photography.

Tips and Camera Settings to Shoot Light Trails

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  • Use a shutter speed of about 1/10th to 1/40th of a second
  • Set your ISO as low as possible: try to set it to ISO 100
  • Shoot in RAW to get more detailed photos and to capture subjects you can edit better later
  • Set your aperture to about f/8 to f/11 range so your subjects are fully in focus with a deeper depth of field.

You should experiment with these settings and make adjustments as needed until your nighttime light trails become more visible. ISO, aperture, and manual focus are all important here.

Another excellent suggestion is to mount your camera on a tripod. Without a stable base for your camera, you are more likely to create blur and camera shake at such slow shutter speeds. To achieve the best results, consider shooting your night photography without a flash.

 Capture the Night Sky

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Instead of looking down, look up for new beautiful night photography ideas. Photographing stars, a big bright moon, or even the Milky Way on a clear night will undoubtedly result in some stunning photo images.

When photographing at night, it is best to use manual mode on your camera. Because there is very little light entering your camera sensor, your camera will struggle to focus in the dark. Consider bringing the following equipment when photographing the sky or a star: a wide aperture lens with an aperture of f/2.8 or higher, a tripod, and a DSLR camera.

Downloading these apps to plan the best locations to photograph the night sky is another night photography tip. Here are some of our top night photography picks:

Dark Sky Finder- this app provides a light pollution map, allowing you to avoid areas and cities where light pollution may prevent you from photographing stars or the moon.

Go Sky Watch- Simply point your phone to the sky and this app will provide a quick search identifying stars, constellations, and planets.

Photographing Ferris Wheels and Carnivals

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This is one of the most popular ideas for nighttime photography! To photograph the beautiful moving lights of a Ferris wheel against a night sky, make sure to use a long exposure mode on your camera! You get extra points if you can photograph a star or two against the carnival night lights.

Try to find your local carnival at night for colorful and fun night lighting. Carnivals are full of moving rides and bright lights that can be captured with a tripod and a slow shutter speed. To capture great night photography shots, start with a shutter speed of 1/30th of a second, set your ISO to 100, and don’t forget to adjust your aperture based on those settings.

Museums and Famous Attractions by Night

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To find all of your city’s museums and attractions, consult your local city guide or a travel website. Photographing museums and government buildings at night becomes much more interesting when using long exposure camera settings.

In general, these places are designed to draw attention, so they are usually illuminated at night. Discover your own city in a new light by photographing it at night!

Consider including a human element, such as a person running through your photography landscape, to make your photos of local buildings more interesting.

Some buildings, particularly in Paris, have reserved the right to prohibit the sale of prints of them, so do your own research on copyright protection before selling any prints.


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Fireworks appear to be becoming more common in our daily lives, rather than being reserved for special occasions. Add a splash of color to your night photography ideas. Setting your shutter speed to around 1/15th or 1/20th of a second is a pro photography tip for shooting fireworks.

Make a calendar of upcoming events in your area that will feature fireworks. You could photograph the fireworks exploding in the sky alone, or you could photograph the crowd as well.

Consider purchasing your own sparklers to photograph during the show. Sparklers are inexpensive and add a splash of color to any photograph. Using sparklers in your photographs also allows you to have more control over movement and light.


Portraiture at night is a fun way to create moody silhouette photos. If you want to photograph people in an artistic way at night, this is a great idea.

Set your model up in front of your light source and meter your camera for that light, not your model. Always set your camera to manual focus if you want to take great photos and have more control over your camera.


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This is a fantastic photography idea for when you’re out camping. Use this outdoor setting to take night portraits of family and friends, or even the wilderness against a dark night’s sky, with only the fire illuminating the trees. You can use amusing props like marshmallows or cook over an open fire.

Remember that you may need to move your subjects around the fire to get the best shots. If you need assistance, you can have a friend hold a prop while you adjust the exposure on your camera.


If you’re already shooting in a city, shooting fountains at night is a great idea. The fountains in most squares and parks are illuminated at night, making them interesting subjects.

Slowing down your shutter speed creates a smooth water effect. Set your ISO control to 400 and your aperture control to f/5.6 to f/8; after those camera settings, you’ll have a better idea of how to set your shutter speed.

Control your shutter speed in increments to see how the blur in your shots changes. If you are uncomfortable with manual mode, you can switch to shutter priority control mode.

As you move around the water, look for different shots. In urban settings, shift your perspective by going lower or higher. To make your subjects look more photogenic, you may need to climb up on a bench or get low to the ground.


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Reflections can be found in nature and in cities. A simple puddle on the street, a mountain lake, or even a glass-walled building.

At night, reflections become more interesting to photograph. Experiment with these photography tips and ideas, such as creating ripple effects in water or standing in a building’s reflection.

Another possibility is to photograph the night sky reflecting on a building. If you find a reflection, move around it and look for different perspectives than what you see from your normal vantage point.


Night photography is a great way to experiment with new ideas. Even if having a day job makes it difficult to find time to shoot, there is no reason to miss out on night photography.

Use the night photography tips above to get creative; you might be surprised at how many ideas you can find right outside your door.

Keep in mind all of the photography techniques we learned when shooting city lights, landscape photography, night portrait ideas, and nighttime city photography in general.

Note: If you want to make some adjustments to the photo just let me know. I can do it for you at a very low cost. You can hire me to edit your photo.


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