We’ve all seen beautiful pictures of stars twinkling in the night sky or amazing city skylines lighting up the darkness. But if you’ve ever tried to take pictures like that, you know it’s no easy feat. Here are some tips that will help you to make the best of your nighttime shoots. One thing to realize is even the most dreary location can become magically alive when shooting at night.

  1. Create a Sturdy Platform

To get great shots at night, you need to reduce the vibration of your camera as much as possible. Use a tripod that is designed to hold a heavy camera. If you can afford it, buy a carbon fiber one, but if not, an aluminum one will do. Then, when using it, set your camera’s timer on 2 seconds to avoid shaking after pressing the shutter. The cheap tripods available online are mostly for video…seek out a tripod made for photographers. I recently purchased a Vanguard model for $129. I’m very happy with it.

Depending on your location, it may also be helpful to have a second smaller tripod in case you encounter areas where your larger one won’t fit. Make mos sure that this smaller tripod is also very sturdy.

  1. Use Manual Focus

Experienced photographers suggest using manual focus at nighttime because you’ll do a better job manually focusing your camera than your autofocus function will. Turn your focus until you can see the infinity symbol on your lens. Then, adjust from there. Usually, you’ll find that coming back just a millimeter or two is just right.

  1. Experiment with ISO Settings

You may think it’s best to use a high ISO, but a lower one will reduce the noise in your photos. You’ll need to experiment with what works best by testing out different settings and deciding when the images begin to look distorted. Start by testing the highest ISO and lowest aperture that your camera will allow. You can adjust from there. What setting you choose will also depend on what you are hoping to capture. Do you want a long exposure that will have moving lights become streaks? If so, choose a lower ISO. If you want to freeze the action, a higher ISO will help.

  1. Do a Test Run When Possible

One of the best things you can do to ensure great night shoots is to explore the place you’ll be photographing. Study the terrain and plan for any difficult conditions. While you’re there, experiment by taking some test shots. You might learn some valuable lessons in advance that you’ll be happy to know when it’s time for your actual shoot.

There are your five tips to help you capture some amazing nighttime images. Play it with the different options, learn from your mistakes, and have fun with it!