Shooting street photography at night generates special problems beyond those usually facing street photographers. Most of them have to do with light, and most, but not all of them have to do with the relative lack of light. The following is a list of 5 tips for night time street photography. As such, it does not address general street photography issues such as whether to shoot from the hip or how to deal with your anxieties about shooting strangers. Those are legitimate topics but there are lots of other articles and tutorials that address them.
1. INCREASE YOUR EXPOSURE BIAS
You will be photographing people who are lit randomly. The light might be to the side or even directly behind them. No matter how you set up your exposure metering, there is a good chance that it will lock onto a light source, or at least some area that is better lit than your subject. There are also a number of light sources that directly behind your subjects, and not above them. These include automobile headlights and store front lights. When that happens your subjects will be completely in the shade and non-viewable, unless you increase your exposure bias accordingly. This gentleman was standing in complete shadow, but is visible largely because my camera was set to an exposure bias of +1.0.
I usually have the camera set between +0.3 to +1.0. It depends on where I am and which way I am facing. It helps if you are not facing oncoming car traffic and do not have street lights directly in your camera’s line of sight. As a default, I would suggest +0.7. But check your results while you are out and adjust accordingly.