Night Shooting in Salt Lake City
Stability is the key to ruling the night.
I had a chance during a recent visit to Salt Lake City to photograph the Utah State Capitol Building at night.
Night photography is different from daytime photography. When shooting at night, you are dealing with very low light, long shutter times and difficult trade-offs in ISO and aperture.
All that aside, stability is the real key to night photography. The slightest movement of the camera will ruin your shot when shutter times are measured in minutes. I use a very sturdy tripod. I also use a remote control or the timer on my camera to trigger the shutter. I never touch the camera.
But that’s still just not good enough…
My camera is a digital SLR. That means there’s a mirror arrangement that allows you to look through the lens via the view finder to compose the shot. When you press the shutter button, the mirror pops up out of the way for the exposure. That causes vibration.
I use the Mirror Lockup feature of my camera to prevent mirror vibration (most DSLRs have this feature). When I use the camera’s menu to enable Mirror Lockup, pressing the shutter button once pops the mirror up out of the way but does not trip the shutter. Then, I press the shutter button again to take the picture.
The time between the first button push and the second allows any vibration from the mirror popping up to die down.
Of course, I still don’t want to touch the camera so the Mirror Lockup feature works with the remote trigger, the timer, or a cable shutter release. I always use one of these methods to trip the shutter without touching the camera.
Here’s one of my images from that night at the Capitol. Notice it’s sharp in spite of the fact that the exposure time was 30 seconds.