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How To Take Photographs in The Dark

Dark picture taken in a club


Summer is on the horizon. This means warm days and warmer evenings, with plenty of days out on the town, which progress into nights out on the town, which progress into mornings splayed out on the sofa with a ringing head and an exponential craving for a bacon sarnie. 

No matter if it’s Instagram or Facebook, you will most likely find your social media feed clogged up by positive summer vibes. They’re fun and a wholly welcomed change from the late winter “hot coffee and woollen socks” shots. Sadly, however, a lot of these feeds are notable for unfortunate photography skills. The day shots are normally beautifully orchestrated, whether it’s a friend standing in front of a gorgeous, graffitied building, or a landscape shot of the ocean during sunset. But come the night-time, these shots start to get a little less impressive. 

It's understandable. A few drinks in and it can become difficult to comprise a well-constructed photography shot. But it is certainly a shame, especially if you wanted to create a Facebook or Instagram photo book which centres around the summer. The amount of time spent out in the warm, humid evenings are represented with photographs which are either ruined by a bright flash, or so dark that you really can’t see anything at all. But there are ways of avoiding this. In fact, there are ways to create night-time photos which are just as beautiful as the ones you take in the daytime. 

Apps Are Your Friend

If you are going out on the town with a professional photographer’s camera, then this point will probably be moot for you. But the truth is, you are most definitely in the minority. Whilst a lot of us would like to go out with one of these cameras, until they can fit in our back pocket, we will most probably stick to our phones for the foreseeable future.

This doesn’t have to be so much of a compromise, however. Modern phones actually have great photography abilities, especially with the number of apps you can use to enhance the photographs. Ordinarily, if you are shooting in low light, getting the right exposure can be done with a long shutter speed. This is easily simulated with both IOS and Google Play apps, either of which can allow you to control how long the shutter of your phone camera stays open.

The Night Is a Canvas

You do not have to simply take pictures of your friends if you are on a night out. It’s just as possible to take natural shots of beautiful scenery in the night as it is in the day. Using the black canvas of the night sky as a backdrop can help you in achieving this. With long exposures and high contrasts, you can isolate any objects or landscapes to make them pop with colour, allowing your photo book to be filled with beautiful, abstract night-time pictures.

You can even take pictures of the moon, if you know how to go about it. 

Keep It Stable

Keeping the camera stable can also aid in creating these photographs. This can prevent motion blur and it will keep your photographs sharp in definition. This can be difficult to achieve, but it is doable. Try putting your phone on a timer and placing it against a solid object. If you are serious about taking beautiful night-time photography, then you could even invest in a small mobile tripod. This can really help you achieve your very own, perfectly crafted pictures.

The Flash Does Not Have to Be the Enemy

The flash of your camera can either be the saviour or the destroyer of good night-time photos. But it doesn’t have to be a point of concern for you. If you are trying to capture a group picture or a trying to take better pictures of your significant other, then there are ways to ensure your flash does not counteract the lighting you are trying to achieve.

If your flash is making the intended picture a little harsher and jarring, then try to place some tissue over it. This will soften the light before it hits the subject's face, making the photograph far more natural and professional looking. You can even tape the tissue onto the flash for the night. It may look strange, but it will be well worth it when you come to look back at the night’s events in your beautifully crafted photobook.   

Take The Time to Edit

The best thing about modern photography is that you can take a whole load of photos on your phone, then edit them to turn any flaws into positives before they end up on social media. Often, even if we try our best to avert it, low light can take over a well-set photograph and ultimately make it look unprofessional.  

Going through these pictures and editing them can work wonders. If your photograph doesn’t have good colours or is too grainy, then converting it to black and white can really help to brighten it up. Not only this, but it can even do well to emulate a classic photography style, giving your photograph a film-effect, which can elevate it perfectly.


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