Taking a picture of your yard haunt during the day simply doesn’t do it justice. You can take pictures with your camera’s built in flash, but that also takes away from the spookiness. We all want to give our pictures that ghostly feel that you can only get from darkness, but taking pictures at night can be very challenging because of the lack of light. Night photography usually ends up smudged, blurry or way too dark. With the right equipment and technique you’ll be taking brilliant night shots with very little effort!
This tutorial will be broken down into 3 parts.
- Equipment Overview
- Aperture and Shutter Speed
In order to continue with this tutorial, please make sure that your camera has a “manual” option. If you are not sure, please refer to your owner’s manual for more information.
Based on my experience and research, standard point and shoot cameras usually do not have a manual option. Most advanced point and shoot cameras and all digital SLR cameras have a manual option.
In addition to a camera with a manual setting, you will need a sturdy tripod. Using a tripod is 100% necessary and without one your images will turn out blurry.
Aperture and Shutter Speed
Note: Since this is not a photography website, I won’t go into too much detail on aperture and shutter speed, but rather give you just enough information so that you can apply the knowledge while you shoot.
Just like the iris in the human eye, every lens on every camera, no matter how big or small, cheap or expensive, has an iris diaphragm that regulates the amount of light that will enter the camera. The size of the hole created by the iris diaphragm is called the aperture (The Pupil is the hole in the iris that lets in the light). The aperture value on your camera will be a numeric value usually between 1.2 and 32 (Not all cameras and/or lenses have a full range of 1.2 thru 32). The lower the number, the more light the lens lets in. The higher the number, the less light the lens will let in. With this in mind, the first step in taking a successful night shot is setting your aperture to the lowest possible setting to allow in as much light as possible.
Next, comes shutter speed. The shutter speed on your camera regulates how long light enters the camera. Most if not all digital SLR cameras allow you to leave the shutter open for as long as 30 seconds and as short as 1/1000th of a second. Obviously a shutter speed of 1 second will allow in more light then a shutter speed of 1/1ooth of second.
Mount your camera on a tripod and frame your subject in the viewfinder on your camera. Set the camera to manual, adjust the aperture to the lowest possible setting, set the shutter speed to 1 second and snap the picture. Use the camera’s LCD display to determine if you like the picture? (The LCD is not 100% accurate and I would not rely on it for professional applications, but for this tutorial its fine!) Depending on the time of day and the amount of available light, the picture may be too dark or too light. If the picture is too dark, increase the shutter speed from 1 second to 2 seconds. If the picture is too light, decrease the shutter speed to 1/15th of a second. Keep making these adjustments until you are happy with the result.
I cannot recommend an exact setting because every situation is different so just experiment with the settings until you get it just right!
Happy Shooting and Happy Halloween!