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Night Photo and Night Landscape Techniques

Still cameras also have a place in night vision photography. Long time exposures in dim or dark lighting conditions is a technique often used to create some unusual and sometimes stunning night photos.

There is talk of a new subculture called Urban Exploration. It is no longer the time of Lewis and Clark. It seems that there is very little in the natural world that has been unexplored or undocumented. And many natural areas are acres and acres of mostly the same repeating and uninspiring scenery. Natural areas and undeveloped land is important to our ecology and must be preserved, but for the aspiring photographer or film maker there is sometimes a real lack of interesting images to capture.

And just as we are decrying the spread of urban blight and modernization, there are those that have found inspiration and art in some of the most sordid examples of our 20th century man made waste and desolation.

A photographer name Troy Paiva has made a name for himself creating night time photos of abandoned factories, military bases and other unused buildings and sites. A few minutes spent browsing the amazing collection of photos on his web site will definitely allow you to understand what the ‘Urban Exploration’ movement is about.

Using the techniques of long time exposures and adding colored lighting to dramatize or enhance the scene can create amazing effects.

Anyone can try this simply and easily. It doesn’t take a lot of equipment to give it a go. And now with digital camera you can experiment and come up with excelling shots quickly and without a lot of cost.

Use a tripod for your camera and vary your exposure time until you get a usable image. Many times these exposures will be in the range of a few to many minutes long. For the enhanced lighting, you can use a flashlight with colored film or plastic over the lens. In a long time exposure, you can walk through the picture without being picked up on the camera. Just use your colored light to highlight different areas. As you practice this technique, you will find what works best. And if you want to further push the envelope, you can add remote flash units and more sophisticated coloring techniques to your bag of tricks.

I’ve practiced photography for many years, and it seems many people are always putting off going out for a shoot because the lighting is not right. It’s too cloudy or it’s midday and too bright or some other reason. After seeing some of Troy’s photos it makes me realize that if we change our mindset a little and realize that there is always enough light for a night photo we could probably capture some amazing shots. The camera doesn’t care. It can keep it’s ‘eyes’ open for as long a necessary to grab enough light to make an image. And if it’s really dark, we can add a little artificial light to just ‘help it along’.

You can do this. Give some night photography a try and let me know what you think. It would be great to see your amazing night time shots!