Shooting after dark


Usually about this time of year I'm looking forward to running my night photography sessions to make the most of the Christmas lights. It's such a fun activity that I love doing it! On top of that we are getting some great clear nights to try and capture the moon.

So, as I can't run them this year, here are a few tips for you to try out some after dark magic!


What you'll need - a camera that can be put into either Shutter Speed or Aperture priority , a tripod and warm clothes. Optional is a remote release cable - you can always use the timer delay on your camera instead.

  1. Shoot in the hour after sunset to capture the blue hour. This is especially effective for illuminated buildings which often have a yellow glow to them.

  2. Set your camera into either Aperture Priority mode (A or AV on the mode dial) or Shutter Speed priority mode (S or TV on the mode dial)

  3. Aperture Priority:

  • The mid range apertures work well for night shooting. i.e. F8 - F16.

  • Start at F11 - if too dark try F8, if too bright try F13.

  • The camera will select the right shutter speed for you.

4. Shutter Speed Priority:

  • Shutter speed gives us the most control over light trail photos.

  • Start at 10 - 20 seconds and shoot some test shots.

  • Changing the shutter speed will affect the relative brightnes darkness of the image as well as the length of the trails - just experiment!

5. Use your manual focus point selector if your camera struggles to focus - this can

be a challenge for the camera in the dark.


6. Press the shutter and let the camera do the rest. make sure you don't hold onto

the camera or the tripod whilst you take your photos - you may introduce camera

shake. Remember that these are longer than normal exposure so there will be

some time when your camera doesn't appear to be doing anything.

And play safely! Night photography is very absorbing so make sure you go with someone else or do it in as safely as possible. Enjoy the magic and get in touch if you have any questions.


The photo of Great St Mary's, Sawbridgeworth and the light trail image were both taken by students who attended the past workshops.

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All images © Sarah Holmes 2021 No reproduction without prior permission.