Shooting at night can be a roller-coaster ride of emotions. You can start off tired, but quickly feel energetic if your shots are going well. On the flip side, if you’re not getting the shots you want, you can quickly move from excitement to frustration.
This is especially true if you’re not used to photographing at night. Besides the technical challenge of having limited light, you have to fight your desire to go back home. If it’s cold outside, this desire can be doubly strong.
It’s like waking up early or going out in bad weather for the sake of photography. You want the results to be great immediately to prove that the shoot is worthwhile. It’s okay to feel tired or uncomfortable, as long as you’re getting nice shots.
Unfortunately, getting nice shots takes experience, and you can only get that experience through failure. Sometimes, you have to go out and feel frustrated in order to learn. Then, the next time, you’ll go out better prepared to get the shots you want.
However, you can cut down on your frustration by doing some research beforehand. For example, you can decide what subjects and/or locations you’ll be shooting. Then, you can look up the best lighting techniques for those subjects and locations.
Below are 7 ideas for subjects you could try, along with 35 beautiful night photos to inspire you to go out and brave the night.
7 Great Subjects for Night Photography
Portraits might be the easiest place to start with night photography. That’s because you can position the model, so the lighting will be good. You can even shoot indoors next to a window, using the light from the moon or street lamps as lighting.
Famous locations are often lit at night, making them easier subjects to capture. They can also be fun to shoot at night because their atmosphere changes when the sun sets. They might look elegant during the day, but spooky at night. Or they might look more majestic, lit up against the darkness.
Skyscrapers, bridges, and other sources of urban light are natural subjects for night photography. Their brilliant glow can make even ugly cities look beautiful. In fact, city lights are such a great subject that we’ve dedicated an entire post to them. If you’re planning to photograph a city at night, be sure to check out these 40 examples of city light photography for more ideas and inspiration.
Don’t live in or near a big city? You can still capture brilliant lights and get an urban atmosphere from highways or roads. Even in a small town, streets can look lively in night photos, especially if you’re taking a long exposure. Then, a little traffic can seem like a lot, as each car leaves a streak of light in the photo.
Empty roads can be a cool night subject, too. Though the lighting might be trickier, empty roads have moody, desolate look that’s great for photos.
Fog / Mist
Photographing fog or mist can be challenging, but it’s worth the effort. Mist can make a night scene look mysterious, silent, and solitary. Mood-wise, it’s the perfect accompaniment to darkness, but technically, it can be hard to capture.
If you’ve never photographed fog or mist before, you can start by shooting it in the early morning. Then, you’ll at least have more light to work with. For more inspiration, look at these 50 magical examples of misty morning photography.
Trees / Leaves
Nature takes on a different atmosphere at night, much like famous locations. A gorgeous forest can look creepy at night. A simple plant can look elegant in the moonlight. If nothing else, they make fantastic silhouettes.
Last but certainly not least, the sky can be a stunning subject to shoot at night, especially when it’s clear and full of stars. Even if you live in an area with light pollution, you can still get good shots of the moon and stars. Take a look at these 30 breathtaking photos of the night sky to get a bigger picture of what’s possible.
Many of the above photos were selected from our creative Flickr group. Next time you take a beautiful photo at night, add it to the group so we can appreciate your work!