Between the Singapore Night Festival, various Gardens by the Bay light-ups, River Hongbao and several music festivals and concerts, there are plenty of chances to have a festive night photo outing or two here in Singapore.

Shooting after dark is different from photographing in the day. The lack of a central light source means you may have to reverse some settings you would normally use, to compensate. You might also find accessories such as a tripod necessary when shooting certain night shots.

However, in exchange, shooting at night will allow you to create shots and looks that might be unachievable during the day. This makes it rewarding to meet the challenges of shooting after dark.

Try these 5 tips to get great photos during your festive evening photo outing.

1. Go With a Higher Aperture

Image by @gin.tay

When shooting at night, pick a lens with a larger aperture than one you use for day shoots. The smaller the f-stop on your lens, (i.e., the larger the aperture), the more light your camera can pick up to ensure your subject appears bright and brilliant. Conversely, setting your f-stop too high can often result in dull and dark photos.

Try using lenses with f-stops of 2.8 or even 1.4 to improve your low-light shooting capabilities. Going from f-stop 2.8 to 1.4 doubles the amount of light you have to work with, so making a switch will give you quite good mileage. If you’re not sure where to start, a 50mm lens with f-stop 1.8 is a popular choice.

When shooting a dark landscape with scattered light sources, don’t be afraid to open up your aperture fully at the start, and adjust as you go along.

Images by @k.cyk

Image by @k.cyk

Image by @k.cyk

2. Shoot With a Fast Shutter Speed And Higher ISO

Image by @mypillowsofterthanyours

Picking a fast shutter speed will help to ensure crisp and clear shots, especially when you’re attending a concert or a performance and there is movement in your shot.

However, do note that if your shutter speed is too high, your shots will end up dark. If that’s the result you’re getting even though your f-stop is at its lowest, try slowing down your shutter speed to keep the shutter open for longer.

Image by @mypillowsofterthanyours

If you’re not able to get the shutter speeds you want, you’ll probably need to set your ISO higher to compensate. However, do be aware that the higher your ISO, the grainier your photo will look (noise).

To counteract this, try shooting in RAW format. Not only will it reduce the noise, having your photos in RAW format will also help you reduce noise in post-production.

Image by @mypillowsofterthanyours

3. Pay Attention to Framing

Image by @ssmfoto

When you’re out shooting, see if you can frame your subject against a familiar landmark. Singapore’s night festivals are full of whimsical themes and creations and the right composition can add mystery and wonder to your photos.

Framing fellow visitors and attendees in the foreground is also a good way to add a sense of scale and tell the viewer what’s happening.

Image by @ssmfoto

Another way to frame your subject is by playing with the depth of field. This can get rid of distracting details for a more composed picture.

Image by @gin.tay

Here, shortening the depth of field blurs out the Supertree in the background to create a beautiful field of bokeh for the shot.

4. Play With Zoom

Image by @wzhxx_

The fun thing about shooting at night is the presence of many different light sources, which can make for some creative, stunning shots.

This photo is the result of combining long exposure with zoom. The treatment turned the multiple points of light into speedy light trails that makes you feel like you’re being absorbed into the photo.

If you want to try something like this yourself, take note of the following: Use a tripod for stability and cleaner light trails, reduce your aperture size to avoid overexposure, bring down your ISO to reduce noise, and slow your shutter speed to ensure sufficient brightness.

5Use Alternative Lighting

Image by @wzhxx_

Shooting at night does not necessarily mean you need to bring along a flash. At the various festivals, you can find installations that work just as well to light your subject.

Remember to position your subject such that their face is well-lit. This means looking for a light source that is lower than eye-level. An overhead light will cast your model in mysterious shadow, which might work depending on what you’re going for.

Image by @wzhxx_

Besides making use of the light installations at your location, you can also try creating your own alternative light sources with portable LED lights. Just make sure they’re intact and safe to use before draping them over your model!

What Are Your Favourite Night Shooting Tricks?

Shooting at night is challenging and exciting because there are so many variables you can play around with. Settings you normally wouldn’t use in the day might just produce a stunning shot when used during a festive night photo trip.

We want to know what are your favourite tips and tricks to use when you go shooting after dark. Tell us by tagging #canonsg in your photos!