Mastering the Focus in Night Photography

Posted on November 23, 2016 By

Most photographers will agree that when shooting at night, there are multiple factors that can limit the performance of your camera, and as a result, your photograph can turn out far from perfect. The low level of light tends to result in unwanted blur, so Clifton Cameras has come up with some top tips on how to eliminate the blur and enjoy perfect photos.

Compensating for Longer Exposures

The light limitation in night photography means that you need to adjust your camera settings in order to get the most out of your shot. The exposure time must adjust for enough light to enter the image. Dependant on your camera, the best settings will vary. With a manual shooting mode, it is up to the photographer to test a few until they find the best, unlike a semi-automatic or automatic shooting mode which does the work for you. Either way, this will affect your shutter speed, decreasing it significantly.

The slow speed means that you will need to compensate for the slightest camera movement, even motions as small as a hand shake or mirror vibration. You can use a tripod to steady your shot. It is important to find the correct ISO when shooting with light limitation, as the ISO is directly responsible for your camera’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive your camera will be to light.

With night time photography, the flash is a must. However, the flash has its flaws too. For landscape shots, you will need to buy a flash diffuser if you want to prevent flattened images.

The Sweet Spot

Whether you are a professional photographer or not, it is important to know that most camera lenses will have a sweet spot. Both Canon and Nikon lenses are known to have this, so it’s important you know how to make the most of it to achieve maximum sharpness across your images.

How do I find a lens’ sweet spot?

Follow these steps and the sweet spot of your camera lens should become clear:

  1. First, identify the lens’ widest or maximum aperture setting. This can found through a series of numbers often printed on the side or the end of a lens and will be written similar to ‘1:3.5-5.6’. For this arrangement, you can ascertain that the widest aperture that the lens can achieve when it’s zoomed all the way out is f/3.5. On the flip side, the widest aperture that the lens can achieve when it’s zoomed all the way in is f/5.6.
  2. Now that you have this information, you can now determine the lens’ mid-range sweet spot. All you need to do is to count two f-stops from the widest aperture
  3. Once your lens’ mid-range sweet spot has been identified, it’s time to get some test shots. Make sure that your camera is set to Aperture Priority mode — this allows you to control the aperture setting of your camera — and take a few photos at varying apertures.
  4. Analyse all of the photos that you have captured in order to determine which of the aperture setting presents you with the sharpest images. Found it? Your lens’ sweet spot has been established. This works in day and night photography, but is particularly useful when you’re in a situation more prone to blur (such as night photography).

Finding the range within your camera aperture allows the lens to work at its best to produce the sharpest images possible. This technique not only helps with light limitations but assists you where maximum sharpness is required.

Hands Off

It is simple enough for everyone to follow and it could be the difference between a great photograph and a blurred, out of focus photograph. Most cameras have a self-timer function so in order to get the most out of your camera, it is best to use a tripod and set your camera to self-timer to prevent even slight movements which could cause the camera to shake and create a blurred photo.

By selecting self-timer mode on your camera and using a stable tripod, the risk of camera movement is eliminated. It is essential for successful night time photography.

For more articles like this one, take a look at Clifton Cameras online blog.

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