Introduction: Taking High Quality Night Landscapes

About: Hi, my name is Ulrich Retief. I am currently working as a junior doctor in South Africa. Although I am very busy with my work and extracurricular activities, I love taking my mind off work and relax by doing …

Night landscapes can be some of the most beautiful things you have ever seen, unfortunately it is so easy for them to come out underexposed, blurry, shaky, grainy or just dead right useless.

I just want to start by saying that I am by no means a professional, just a very motivated amateur, and that I have no formal training. There are so many different ways of skinning a cat, and yes my method has some flaws, but you can look at the examples above and decide for yourself if you want to try my method. You can also just use it as a guide to develop your own style, that's what photography is all about, isn't it?

The way i use, is specifically to get a smooth image that isn't grainy at all, with good focus and vivid colours.

At the end i will give you my exact settings for each of the images above.

PS. the photos above are straight out of the camera with no post-editing at all.

Step 1: My Equipment

  1. Canon 700D (most cameras should be fine for this, as long as you can use a manual mode)
  2. Remote (to prevent any shaking of the camera, you can still get good results with a steady hand)
  3. Strong tripod (a flimsy tripod will not necessarily give a stable stand. If you don't have proper tripod, just look for the closest stable surface and make a plan)
  4. Imagination (c'mon, be creative!)

Step 2: Settings

This will explain why i use the settings i use and what each setting actually controls.

Here are the settings i focus on and what they influence:

  • ISO - Graininess
  • Aperture (F-stop) - Depth of the field of focus
  • Shutter speed - Brightness, exposure

(Both ISO and aperture play a HUGE role in the exposure of the photo, but the main aspects i use them for are what i put up there. I just use my shutter speed to compensate for under- or overexposure.)

What settings I use and why:

  • ISO - I try to keep my ISO as low as possible, because the higher you put the ISO, the grainier your photo will be. Depending on the type of photo i would like, I try not to go higher than 1600. The lower your ISO, the longer your your shutter will have to be open. So if you do not like the glare you get from lights on a long exposure, just lift your ISO and shorten your shutter time.)
  • Aperture - I make my aperture very small (so my f-stop has a larger number. The number given on your camera serves as a fraction, so f/5 is a much larger aperture than f/32). The smaller aperture lets in much less light, but it gives you greater depth of field to your focus. you will notice that the buildings is in focus in the foreground as well as the ship further in the background.
  • Shutter speed - I mostly use shutter speed to control the exposure. If the phoyo is to dark, i slow down my shutter speed (increase the time it stays open), if it is too bright i speed up my shutter speed (decrease the time it stays open). A slow shutter speed will also smooth out moving objects, like clouds or the water in the photo at the beach with the block rocks. I you want a sharper image, slow down your shutter speed and compensate with the other two settings.
  • PLAY AROUND! - As I said so many times, look at the result and adjust according to what you want. Play around with these settings and find your style!

Here follows my settings for each example picture:

Step 3: Harbour

  • ISO: 100
  • Aperture: f/13
  • Exposure time (Shutter speed): 2 seconds

Step 4: Camp

  • ISO: 200
  • Aperture: f/10
  • Exposure time (Shutter speed): 15 seconds (another great part about long exposure times. There were actually people walking around, but because they did not stand still for long enough, they are not visible in the photo.

Step 5: River House

  • ISO: 400
  • Aperture: f/8
  • Exposure time (Shutter speed): 25 seconds

Step 6: Ocean Rocks

  • ISO: 100
  • Aperture: f/16
  • Exposure time (Shutter speed): 20 seconds

Step 7: Enjoy and Strive to Brilliance!

Thank you so much for reading my instructable! I hope you could learn something, please do share your attempts and feel free give advice if you have any! looking forward to hear from all of you!

If you enjoyed this, please do vote and go checkout some of my other instructables!

Photography Contest 2017

Second Prize in the
Photography Contest 2017