a shot in the dark

sydney at nightThere’s no going back now – digital cameras have opened up a whole new world of photo opportunities!

They’ve made it easy for us all to be a photographers and capture those magic moments then share them quickly with friends and family. But there is still an art to getting it right and Intrepid’s John Kirk comes to our rescue with some great tips for taking the perfect shot…

“I just love the challenge of night photography and capturing spectacular images of city lights. However, there are a few tricks to getting good results. I have some proven tips that I share with my Intrepid Australia groups to help them take home superb night photographs of city lights, harbours, campfires and the endless starlit sky.

Tips for taking spectacular night photos:

Tip 1: Turn off the flash.
You may have to do this in the manual settings on some cameras. A common mistake is to leave the camera in auto mode and shoot the scene with the flash. The flash just lights the area a short distance in front of you and is useless for distant views. Sometimes the images look OK when viewed on the camera, but they are usually too dark, or blurry and fuzzy when downloaded onto a computer.

Tip 2: Use a tripod so that the image is crisp and sharp.
When the flash is off, the camera will take a long time to take a photo of the lights, so it needs to be held very still for the best pictures. If you don’t have a tripod, then find something that you can rest your camera on so that it remains very still. Like a fence post, a bollard, a railing, a rubbish bin, anything solid.

Tip 3: Locate the self-timer function on your camera and turn it on.
Most compact cameras have one of these, but not too many people know where it is. The icon looks like a circle with a single clock hand. Most people use the timer to take photos of themselves with a group – they set up the camera, trigger the timer, run into the photo and 10 seconds later, it takes the photo.

Why use the timer to take night shots? When you press the shutter button on your camera, you actually cause the camera to shake a bit. This doesn’t matter in daylight or with a flash, but will cause blur in the night photos. So, press the shutter with the timer on, brace or hold the camera steady to avoid any shake and the result, a fantastic night time photo of the lights or scene.

Happy snapping!”

John’s been taking photos for most of his life and has worked as a professional photographer. He went completely digital back in 2004. While he uses big professional Digital SLRs, he always carries a little compact point-and-shoot camera. It’s amazing how many photos he captures spontaneously with the little camera. This photo of Sydney Harbour was taken with his compact camera while showing his night photo tips to Intrepid travellers on an East Coast Northbound trip.

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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Digital cameras with a ‘movie’ function are also a Godsend – because they will often capture alot of action not caught with stills.

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