Night photography


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Dec 18, 2011
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Friends, I want to take some long exposure shots at night with the moon & the city lights as subject.

wondering what should be the WB setting! Should I use one of those presets( there ain't any particular one for this in my 60 D) or should I try the custom setting on Temperature? In case of Temp, what should it be?

Would the setting be same for clicking Fireworks in the sky?

Thanx in anticipation...
Not sure about white balance. I'd just take a few and see how they look or try auto.

For fireworks, I'd use a tripod if you can and high ISO's around 1600-2000 work well for catching the light. Shutter speeds around 1s work well as well
When doing night shots I generally use Cloudy. I want to capture the unusual look of the light. Bluish from the Metal Halides and more orange from the sodium vapor lights. I would stay away from auto white balance. With auto your settings will be inconsistent from shot to shot. For me the point of night photography is to capture the unique way the world looks when light by the wide array of artificial light sources.
At night you are going to get a mix of every conveivable type of light. There is no one setting that will work. Building lights are frequently tungsten or high pressure sodium; street lights are frequently HPS, metal halide, or mercury vapor. Car headlights are tungsten or halogen, car tail lights are usually tungsten or LED but they are filtered by colored lenses. Each one has a different temperature. I just shoot auto white balance at night and let the colors fall where they will.
Use daylight or cloudy white balance. Either one will depend on your preference. ISO at 100 to 400 are recommended. There will be long exposure. I have done a few night shots and had to experience. Books showed a few ways.

Set your ISO at the highest and set shutter speed for 30, take a pic. Look at your LCD and if it's too bright or just right. Then drop your ISO down to between 100 to 400. For example at 3200 is correct exposure and I dropped down to 200. That's 5 stops differences. That 5 stops I add onto 30 sec. So 30 become 480 seconds. 30 to 60 to 120 to 240 to 480. You double every stops.

My canon rebel 600D/T3i has display button that show time on LCD. Once it reach the time you're wanting to do. That's for above ground night shots.

As for city, the above wouldn't work as to being too bright from all the lights. Daylight and cloudy is recommended. I only use auto when I'm indoor. City is trickier and you would have to set the reading between 10 to 30 seconds depending on far away you are. It's just matter of setting the shutter speed and take pic, look at LCD, adjust accordingly. After all that, use your cable release and leave it on lock on multiple shots, ISO I generally use 100 as less noise to deal with.

Books, try the low light photography as a few titles are named that way. Good luck, learn from your mistakes, get better and have fun.

By the way, bring your flashlight just in case. Hope this help out a bit.
Try shooting RAW and do white balance during pp
Thanx all! I was trying on fireworks tonight. Since it was from a distance, the city lights played spoil sport. They give it too much of yellow...
Will try again on a starry night...

Thanx again for coming up with the inputs.... Cheers
Yeah, I second the recommendation to shoot raw. It's better in every possible way, but especially so when white balance gets complicated. Usually tungsten will work for city lights, but it won't work for the moon, or the fireworks.. Often getting the moon in the same shot as anything else requires layering multiple exposures anyway, since it's so much brighter than everything else at night.

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