Night Photography & Light Painting Tips

Night photography is not really as difficult as a lot of people think. However, there are important tools needed to finish the job correctly. Here is a list of compulsory gear, as well as optional items, that you must have for night photography.

"Surfers at Night" captured by Derek Byrne (Click image to see more from Byrne)

“Surfers at Night” captured by Derek Byrne


  • DSLR or any kind of camera with manual settings, including the “Bulb” setting
  • Camera capable of shooting RAW format images (not necessary but highly recommended)
  • Sturdy tripod not tormented by wind
  • Remote trigger or electric cable release with a timer
  • Additional camera batteries, as extended exposures can empty batteries fast—you could exhaust two or more in a night
  • Lens hood or shade for the lens

Good to Have

These items are generally good to have for night photography. They’re not really essential, but they are undoubtedly useful.

  • Digital watch/timer
  • Penlight or a small flashlight to check your settings or you quickly locate items you need
  • Great flashlight for light painting
"Light Painting the Pond 1" captured by Jeremy Jackson (Click image to see more from Jackson)

“Light Painting the Pond 1” captured by Jeremy Jackson

  • Lightweight flash or a speed light
  • Protection for the camera bag and your camera from unexpected climate situations like heavy rains; weather can change fast at night. However, if you’re prepared, you can acquire excellent shots even during extreme weather conditions.
  • A friend to help you, particularly if you are in an urban location; it’s truly important to have someone guard your gear or to help pass the time.

Finding a fantastic subject is very essential in night photography.

"Horse & Rider Waiting in the Spotllight" captured by Jaap Coorens (Click image to see more from Coorens)

“Horse & Rider Waiting in the Spotllight” captured by Jaap Coorens

Night photography can result in beautiful images. Yet, it is usually a difficult task to find a fantastic location in the dark. Thus, it’s nice if you can go out in advance and try finding a great location. Heading out before dark will provide you with ample time to find a spot, arrange your equipment, and get the shot ready. To assist you in finding a great subject, consider these guidelines:

  • Old structures like barns and abandoned automobiles in fields make good subjects. They’re best for painting with light. But it’s important to keep in mind that if you need to cross someone else’s property to get to your subject, you must get authorization. Trespassing is not a good idea, and it can lead to a lot of problems.
  • If you wish to shoot star trails, photograph the moon, or perform light painting, you need to escape the city. You should drive quite a while to get far enough so the city lights won’t affect your shot. Since you will be exposing for a few minutes or perhaps longer, the lights in the city may be visible on the horizon if you are not far enough away.
  • Get started with a smaller item that you can light in one exposure, then you can work your way up to larger subjects, like an old barn or an old fire truck. Yet another excellent object to begin with is an old bicycle. You can obtain this in a junkyard if you don’t have one.
"Old Barn" captured by Beebo Wallace (Click image to see more from Wallace)

“Old Barn” captured by Beebo Wallace

About the Author
This article was written by Courtney McBride on behalf of Light photography or night photography is becoming popular these days. Best of luck with your images.

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2 responses to “Night Photography & Light Painting Tips”

  1. Rach says:

    Nice, I have not done any night stuff but thought about it. I would love to create a light painting like the blue one you have.

  2. Taylor Smith says:

    i have a question, how did you do the photo with the horses. In my photography class we are doing night photography. So i was just wondering how you did it.

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