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Night photography could alone be the topic for an Internet site. We will limit ourselves here to some advice that will allow you to cut your teeth and experiment with this terrific leisure activity.
A support or tripod is strongly recommended, as well as a device to allow long exposures, and a self-timer or cable release.
Everyone agrees on this point
Carry out several tests for a given picture.
This is the easiest type of night photographs to shoot. Whatever the film sensitivity or sensor, exposure alone does most of the work.
Depending on available light intensity, exposure will vary from a few seconds to a few minutes. The exposure time tells the diaphragm how long it must stay open to let light in.
Ideal for landscapes, buildings and stationary subjects.
Trick of the trade
The secret is not to move at all! A tripod ensures stability and a cable release avoids stirring the camera when pressing the release (if the camera is not equipped with a cable release, use a self-timer).
Nighttime dynamic photography is more difficult. It requires a very bright objective (f2.8 recommended) and a very sensitive film (or sensor) (200-400-800+). With a photoelectric cell (to measure the shot scene light) and a compensation table for your film on hand, you are ready for your first tests. Using a flash is also recommended when the subject is sufficiently close.
To shoot a moving subject, the camera speed must be higher than is required with a fixed subject. The faster the diaphragm opens, the more accurate the set scene. A speed lower than 1/30 sec. converts the moving subject into a misshapen ghost. You can compensate for the lack of light with longer exposure or a more open diaphragm.
With regard to the compensation table:
When the exposure is long, the imposition of colors on the film is distorted. It is therefore necessary to change the exposure to compensate. E.g., for a FUJI VELVIA 50 ASA film and an indication of 4 seconds of exposure, a compensation of one additional second is required. Each film behaves differently in low light and each manufacturer produces a separate table. Check with your dealer.
Trick of the trade
The grain of the photo increases with the sensitivity of the film or CCD sensor (ISO 400+). Therefore, if you want a finer grain, use ISO 100 film and increase your exposure. The color will be richer.