Capturing the Atmosphere in Night Photos


When you want to capture photos in the night, there is in particular one thing you should be aware of. Obviously everything is going to be darker and thus you would most likely need to use a tripod or at least amp up the ISO-setting significantly. Otherwise, the captured photo will be very blurry—which of course can be used creatively if that’s your intention.

However, what I really have in mind is quite something different. When you capture a landscape or a cityscape you will most likely get part of the sky in the photo. If the sky is pitch black, it will become a boring, uniformly dark, negative space. Night, right? After all you attempt to shoot in the night which means the sky would be black.

Look at great photos of «nightscapes», though, and you will see that the sky is never pitch black. Instead, there is a flicker of blue light or some lighter parts in the sky that makes the sky much more interesting than a flat and boring black sky.

The trick to get a more dynamic night sky, is not shooting during night time, but rather just before the night sets in. When you shoot during the late dusk or during the few minutes before twilight turns into night, you will be able to capture a much more interesting sky. The photo will still look like a night shot—as long as you keep the exposure dark enough or process the photo as a night shot.

So don’t shoot night pictures at night, but rather just before the night sky takes over, and you will capture a photo with much more atmosphere and dynamics.


7 thoughts on “Capturing the Atmosphere in Night Photos

  1. Pingback: Capturing the Atmosphere in Night Photos | In Flow

  2. I’ve often wondered about this, and how photographers capture those blue/dark blue skies – thanks for the great tip, Otto. I like the textures of the clouds that are brought out in the sky just after sunset.

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