2. EXPOSURE TRIO: SHOOT HIGH, WIDE, AND SLOW
So it’s night time. It’s already dark. And now I’ve told you to set your exposure bias as high as +1.0, which is just an additional obstacle. It’s almost as nutty as wearing your sunglasses at night.
How can you possibly get enough light to take pictures at night, outdoors, and with of course, no flash? You’re going to act like a pitcher throwing a change-up with poor control: go high, wide, and slow.
High High ISO. I usually shoot from ISO 1600 to 2500, with 2000 being my default. You’ll either have to deal with noise and pretend you’re intentionally mimicking a grainy film look, or get a good noise reduction tool, and perhaps sacrifice a bit of detail. I do both.
Wide You’re going to need a lens capable of shooting at a pretty wide open aperture setting at the length you will be using it. This probably means a prime lens. I usually use a prime in my street photography, and it is usually set between F/1.4 and F/2.2. You might be able to push it to 2.4 or even 2.8 but you’ll need to adjust one of the other setting even further to do so.
Slow Normally with subjects who are not posing and staying still for your convenience, you want a shutter speed with some snap, at least 1/125, 1/250, or even higher. You’re not going to get it. Most of my night time street shots are taken at shutter speeds as low as 1/40 and at best I might get 1/80. There will be motion blur. It’s one reason why I decided to start a series of photos of people standing still at bus stops, and why many of my crosswalk shots focus on people waiting at the edge of the crosswalk rather than moving through it. But sometimes I shoot photos of people walking at night, and a touch of blur just adds a sense of energy.