Tips for Urban Night Photography – Everything You Need to Know

Share This Post

If you have ever been thinking about going out at night and taking some beautiful urban night photography, then this is for you because we are going to cover everything that you need to know.

Getting into urban night photography is something that a lot of people have discussed with me ever since I started photography, and honestly, it is one thing that I would always tell you to get into. It is not only an excellent way of expressing yourself, but it is also an excellent way of picturing something that most people don’t see.

Considering how most people find solace in the comfort of their homes during the night, they have no idea how the streets outside are also bustling with life, and urban night photography is a great way of getting to know these things.

You might need some tips if you are just getting started, and we are going to take a look at them in this article, so let’s have a look.

The Best Urban Night Photography Tips That You Should Be Using

Now, when it comes to the tips, I am not going to confuse you by telling you about things that will not add to your overall experience of taking photos. The tips that we are going to discuss will actually make your overall experience better. So, let’s not waste time and have a look.

1、Getting the Right Equipment

The first thing that you have to get in order is the right equipment. Now, the camera body is not something that will trouble you but you should have at least something that performs well in low light and has a good performance at higher ISOs at the same time

For the lens, I would suggest that you use a wide-angle lens like a 35mm, or go for a 50mm lens. You can even go ahead and use a 28-70mm lens, but ideally, I’d suggest something that has a wide open aperture because you really can use as much light as possible. If you are daring enough, you can even go for an 85mm lens but only go for that if you are taking portraits during that time because otherwise, the field of view will be very limited.

Moving forward, you might be wondering about the best lighting setup because when you are out at night, you do need as much light as possible. I would suggest having at least one continuous flash with and one strobe with you because they can help in taking some shots. They might not be useful in all shots, but the application and use-case are definitely there.

2、Choosing the Right Camera Settings

Taking pictures at night is not as simple as some of the other cases because you don’t have access to a lot of light during that time and you are mostly limited to your own lighting setup, and on top of that, the light you are getting from surrounding areas. That is why, for your convenience, I am adding the list of settings that you can use.

  • Aperture: Now, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone but the wider the aperture, more light you will get through the lens. I would suggest that you are setting the aperture anywhere from f/1.4 to f/2.8, but don’t go above that.
  • Shutter Speed: As for shutter speed, you have to make sure that this is where things don’t go out of hand for you. I would suggest going from 1/50thof a second to 1/100th of a second. You can even go lower than the suggested values if you are confident that you won’t be moving your camera during the shot.
  • ISO: Next up is ISO, and the higher you go, the worse it is going to be in terms of noise. However, the good news is that if you have a relatively modern camera, you can actually go as high as 1600 and even 3200. Even if that is not the case, you can always use Adobe Lightroom to take care of the noise and recover some of the details from your picture. But for ISO, the lower the better.

3、Understanding the Lights

  • Another thing, perhaps the most important thing that you need to know about taking photos at night is the light setup that you are going to use. You will have to look at all the available light sources where you are taking pictures. Lights coming from the street, light from shop windows, neon signs, lights from stalls and other sources.

  • You will have to find ways to make sure that the light is reflecting on the subject in such a way that you can actually see the subject instead of their silhouette. I do understand it can be complicated at first but you will be all sorted in absolutely no time

4、Try to Capture Images That Tell a Story

  • There is a lot of difference between a picture that doesn’t tell a story and one that tells a story. The difference is not as confusing as it might sound, to be honest. If you are looking to take a picture that tells a story, capture the people on the street having an interaction as that would allow you to have a proper understanding of the situation at hand.

  • Always capture picture that makes one feel that you have managed to freeze life and time in a single shot. It might sound complicated, but once you manage to master this, you will not be disappointed.

5、Bring Variety to Your Pictures

When you are out on the street and taking pictures of everything around you, just know that you should not fall victim to monotony because doing so is only going to complicate the situation for you and we don’t want that, to be honest. The simplest way to handle this is experimenting with the shots that you are taking and I can assure you that you will be able to take the pictures that you want. I do understand that this might be complicated for a lot of people, but always keep variety in your pictures.

6、Distraction-Free Background

This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of street photography. Whenever you are out and about, you have to make sure that you look for a distraction-free background because if there’s distraction in the background and there are too many things to look at, people will eventually end up losing focus and that is certainly what we don’t want when in our photos. The key here is to keep everything as distraction free as possible and you will end with some stunning pictures and that too, without any complication whatsoever.

Take your time, however, and I can assure you that you will get the best shots that you could possibly want.

7、Understanding the Importance of Tripod

I do understand that a tripod might look like something that is going to limit the overall experience of photography, but you have to understand the fact that when you are taking pictures out at night, you are going to need something that makes it simple for you to successfully take pictures and not ruin them. I do understand that it might not make sense to a lot of us but for anyone who is looking for a definitive experience, it really is an important thing to look into. A tripod is going to help you mount your camera and get a shot that is stable and free of any blur. I do get it that it is not what most people are looking for, but hey, if you want something that looks good and just works, going this route is the smartest thing you can do.

8、Using Flash for Your Subject

Another thing is that in some scenarios, you might realise that the light available to you is simply not enough. In such situations, you might have to use some form of flash to get the message across. I do understand if it might seem counterproductive but in scenarios where you are trying to take the perfect shot, it is absolutely important and you cannot overlook that.

However, when using a flash, you also have to look into your surroundings and be sure that you don’t end up disturbing the people or the area around you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What camera settings for street night photography?

I have talked about camera settings that you should use in detail, so you can use those. In addition to that, feel free to experiment and create something that is truly unique to your preferences.

How can I improve my night photography?

Practice is the key to perfect urban pictures. It is not as difficult as it might sound but it certainly is an overwhelming experience at first.


Urban photography is not for everyone and we all know that. However, it is also important to understand that you have to deliver something that you truly want. If you are having issues with the pictures that you are taking, I would suggest that you practice time and again to get the results you want.

Practice makes perfect, and before you know it, you will be able to master urban night photography in no time, and that too, without needing to use tips again and again.

Author:Robert Frank

Do You Want To Boost Your Business?

drop us a line and keep in touch