Night time photography is tough. There is no doubt about it. I pride myself on getting the best shots when no one else can and I’m sure that’s a general philosophy among photographers. You have to stand out. With that being said, I’m more than willing to help you all get those shots because I want to enjoy them too!
To start, you have to understand the conditions you’ll be shooting in and what you can handle. This can vary on your physical stability and hand shakiness, your lens and whether or not it has IS or VR (image stabilization or vibration reduction), and whether or not you’ll be moving, like in street photography, or whether or not you’re mounted on a tripod. The biggest trade off will come down to how low your shutter speed can go before shakiness and movement becomes an issue.
For a typical night, run and gun, just taking pictures of anything, I like to keep my shutter speed at about 1/100 (typically that’s my cutoff for how I shoot and the lenses I use) with ISO 1600 so if I’m doing unplanned shooting, I use S mode at 1/100 or A mode wide open, hoping that’s enough to get me down to 1/100.
In the next few sections, I’ll explain the different setups and settings you should consider for each condition.