Photography

The Equipment You Need to Take Nighttime Photos

Discover the lighting gear you need to take incredible photos in the dark, with Alejandro Chaskielberg

The word ‘photography’ is made up of two Greek concepts: photo, meaning light, and graphy, meaning field of study, or related to writing. So in the most literal sense, ‘photography’ means writing with light. Which is why you need external lighting so the camera can see when you take photos at night (or write in the dark).

Alejandro Chaskielberg (@alechaski), is a multi-award winning Argentinian photographer. His gongs include the World Photography Organization’s 2011 Best Pro People Picture award. He reveals the basic lighting equipment you need to experiment with light and tell breathtaking stories with nighttime photography. Have a look at the following video:

Digital camera

You can’t take nighttime photos without a digital camera. And you can’t use any old camera either. You need a device that can take long exposures, in other words, one that allows you to keep the shutter open long enough to capture static elements and allows enough light through the diaphragm.

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Use a digital camera with a long exposure setting to take photos at night.

Tripod

A tripod is another key bit of gear for good nighttime photos. It allows you to fix the camera in position, which avoids blurred or shaky images. Remember to fasten your tripod screws tightly in order to secure your camera and prevent it moving. Your image can be affected by the tiniest movements when you leave the lens open for long periods. So a solid, well-made tripod is essential to achieving quality shots in the dark.

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A tripod allows you to take stable, non-blurry, photos in the dark.

Lighting equipment

Now you’ve got your long-exposure camera and a stable tripod, you’re going to need a range of lighting gear to allow you to play with different lights, intensities and colors. The following are a just few examples of Alejandro’s favorite light sources and external flashes. His selection allows you to play with different aspects of night photography.

Fenix PD32 Flashlight

This compact 900 lumens flashlight is super useful. It provides five light intensities, which is very versatile and convenient. It even fits inside your trouser pocket or a small bag.

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The Fenix PD32 is light, compact and very convenient when you don’t want to carry much weight.

Fenix LD75C Flashlight

This flashlight provides 4200 lumens, making it much bigger, more powerful and heavier. It’s very useful for lighting large-scale subjects. And it provides a range of colors, allowing you to create vivid, colorful effects.

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The Fenix LD75C is ideal for lighting large areas and giving your photos some color.

Headlamp

This little flashlight is worn on your head, leaving your hands free to set up your equipment in the dark. Remember nighttime photography can be tricky and even risky if you’re working alone, so light will always be your best friend.

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A headlamp helps you set up your equipment in the dark.

Fenix TK51

This 1800 lumens flashlight provides two intensity settings: a spot beam for smaller subjects or things that are farther away; and a wide angle beam for larger areas, or things that are closer to hand.

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The Fenix TK51 gives you a wide angle...
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... And a spot beam.

Pelican 2430 flashlight

The tungsten light on this flashlight allows you to create bright and interesting compositions. Tungsten gives you a different color to the white light common in standard flashlights. This allows you to create contrast, to highlight your main figure or subject and make them stand out from their background.

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The Pelican 2430 tungsten light is useful for highlighting.

Red flashlight

You can use the emergency flashlight in your glove compartment, or any basic party light to give you some red. This option’s compact size makes it very useful for creating movement in red or any other color.

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Emergency lights are good at generating colorful effects.

Fenix TK61 flashlight

This is the biggest light in our selection and it’s great for lighting and shooting objects over 100 metres away, thanks to its very focused beam.

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The Fenix TK61 provides a very focused spot beam that reaches over 100 meters away.

Manual Flash and cell-phone flashlight

External flashes mounted onto your camera mean you can control the power and flash angle manually. This is very useful for night photography. Your cell phone flashlight is always to hand, which can get you out of a hole when you’re working in the dark.

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A manual flash is perfect for controlling the strength and angle of your light source.
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Your cell phone is also a great lighting tool.

This lighting gear is enough for you to start taking striking portraits in the intimacy of the night.

Want to learn more? Discover how to experiment with light and use darkness to create astonishing nighttime portraits in Alejandro Chaskielberg’s online course: Night Portrait Photography.

You may be interested in:

- 5 Free Online Classes in Professional Filmmaking.
- What is Ghost Lighting in Photography?
- How Photography Fought to Become an Art.

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