Smartphones make photography accessible to everyone, and these days, the images they produce are literally museum-quality. The best part about smartphone cameras is that the automatic settings are usually enough to take fantastic pictures with natural light alone. After the sun sets, though, it’s a different story.
Are you tired of struggling to take photos at night? If so, you’re in the right place. Read on for our simple guide to stellar nighttime phone photography.
Steady Your Hand
Motion is a night photographer’s worst enemy. Even though smartphone cameras use electronic shutters instead of manual ones, they still need a slow shutter speed to let enough light in. This means that there’s more time for tiny movements to make your pictures blurry.
If you want your images to stay in focus, prioritize keeping the camera as still as possible. The easiest way to do this is with a tripod and remote trigger. If you don’t have either of these, hold your phone against a stationary object and breathe out steadily while taking the photo.
When possible, keep your subject still unless you’re going for a motion-blur effect. Try to keep poses simple when shooting night portraits—instead of jumping, walking, or standing at a precarious angle, have your model sit or lean against something for stability.
Don’t Rely on Natural Light
The moon may be bright enough for your eyes to see, but it doesn’t cast enough light for your camera to capture clear images. That’s why it’s best to bring along an artificial light source whenever you’re taking photos at night.
The easiest source of light is a camera flash, but this can create harsh shadows and leave your subject looking flat. Try using a softbox or reflector attachment to fight this effect.
For smoother, more dimensional images, do away with the flash altogether in favor of a ring light. These cast an even glow for professional-quality lighting with very little equipment.
If you’re shooting another subject, a tripod ring light will keep your hands free. If the subject is yourself, consider getting a selfie ring light to attach to your phone.
Optimize Your Camera Settings
Most smartphone cameras now come with a “night mode” or “low-light mode” that does a decent job of taking photos in the dark. To take your pictures to the next level, though, you’ll need to get familiar with the rest of your camera settings.
First, raise your ISO to around 1600 to increase image clarity. You’ll have to experiment with this value to find a number that gives you enough structure without making the photo appear too grainy.
Next, work on adjusting your white balance. For nighttime photos, the value will depend on the “temperature” of your artificial lighting. “Warm” light works best with a white balance of 2000K-3500K, while “cool” light looks better at 5500K-8000K.
Finally, try setting your camera to “burst” or “continuous shooting” mode. This can help compensate for any accidental movement.
Follow These Tips for Stellar Photos at Night
You don’t need a fancy camera and boxes of lighting gear to take professional-looking photos at night. All you need is your smartphone, a tripod, a light source, and familiarity with your camera settings.
Looking for a light that offers the perfect glow in every situation? Lumeering has you covered. Check out our selfie and tripod ring lights that are adjustable, affordable, and compatible with most smartphones.