Shooting at Night Page 2

Photographing people during magic hour can also make an interesting statement. To say "romance," you can shoot a picture of a couple holding hands while walking on the beach. Foreground subjects become silhouettes when photographed against a dusky sky, so look for clean and recognizable shapes. Exposing for silhouettes is easy. Point-and-shoot cameras have averaging meters, so simply place your viewfinder over the brightest area in the scene, and use your exposure-lock feature (if your camera has one) to hold that exposure in place.

On partly cloudy evenings, the sky may be briefly illuminated with color a few minutes after the sun has set, creating a sort of afterglow in the sky. Be sure to anticipate this if you see interesting clouds around sunset.

By turning your automatic flash off, you can get great effects, such as this child illuminated by a single candle.
Reader photo by Anna Dorrance, Leawood, KS

If your camera allows you to use a long time exposure (even putting your camera on its landscape mode can yield a longer exposure), you can record patterns of moving lights after dark that can't be seen by the human eye. Cars are great subjects for this photo technique. Go to a location where the ambient light isn't too strong and where you have an unobstructed view of moving traffic, such as a pedestrian bridge over a freeway. It's a good idea to use a slow- or medium-speed film (like ISO 100--200), or the equivalent ISO setting if you're shooting digitally. You'll also want to use a tripod or something steady on which to brace your camera. Set your camera on the longest exposure it will allow, and try to capture the streaks of a single vehicle or several cars. You'll be surprised at the results!

A long exposure allowed this photographer to capture streaks of light on a Ferris wheel after dark.
Reader photo by Andrew Romaneschi, Honolulu, HI

Readers are encouraged to submit photos to our monthly Point & Shoot HomeWork Assignment feature. Please see the table of contents for the location of the entry coupon, which lists topics and more details.