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Photographing In The Still of Night

Updated on June 1, 2014

In the still of night has to date been one of my favorite subjects. It has brought me the satisfaction of completing yet another project. It has shown me sides of life, not to mention the streets, that I rarely get to experience, and it has produced very beautiful images which to my surprise were very well received by some of the clients to whom I presented them.

The project is not difficult but it does require one to pre plan it. You must have an idea of where you will capture your subjects, where you will take photographs and the overall theme as well as the narrowing of subjects that will work best for you.

This project is off course done at night and the best scenes are presented in mostly solitary locations, often completely desolate ones.

Your goal should you decide to accept this mission...(sorry couldn't help it I just finished seeing the movie) is to photograph scenes of total emptiness and at night. Good subjects are dark alleys, dark empty halls, very dark large rooms, large desolate lake vistas.

Aim to include elements of fog or mist and try to conduct the project during the hours of dusk, maybe early dawn, and especially during the middle of the night.

You will need to use a tripod and set your sensor to low light or use film with an ISO of at least 400. You can also use a flash but it would need to be aimed at a specific location and your camera will more than likely record this spot clearly and very little else.

The best technique is to set the camera on automatic and let it set the shutter speed while you set the aperture to its largest size. Nevertheless, a good flash unit should be used whenever possible if there is no other ambient light such as moonlight, street lights and so on.

Think of images that "speak" of loneliness and despair, and these images will probably be the best subjects for this theme.

The photographs can have the power of making an audience step back and dwell on feelings of solitude and what the other half gets to experience everyday.

Even thought you will be photographing at night and will have to deal with the photographic issues that arise out of such a technique, you should still focus on a main element within scene.

The scene still has to have something on it on which the audience will be focusing upon. They will then naturally gravitate towards other elements and experience everything that the image has to offer.

Do not try to include too many details as the idea is to present a scene of emptiness. Burdening a scene with too many details erases the idea behind the project. Also consider using black & white medium alongside color. Use flash sparingly and only if the scene would not be possible without it.

Night photography focuses on capturing images that often show light streaks, headlights, car brake lights, street lights and the lights from buildings. This particular theme aims to isolate spots and scenes that have very little light, and lack of bright lights is what mostly supports the idea of emptiness.


Think about the images that you will record. there are many photo projects that share similarities with this one such as emotions photography, landscapes, night, abstract and others. Look through your viewfinder and "feel" the emptiness of the scene, if it's not there, then the scene is not a good fit

Although the majority of shots should be done at night and in low light conditions, there are some instances when the subject lends itself for this theme such as street light at the end of a long alley, an empty chair at the end of a long hall illuminated by one single light bulb, a completely empty beach during the early part of dawn or dusk.

Some scenes can include perhaps a lone person, one single tree, empty boxes, a lone car, a single marble statue a single cottage among a dense forest. Just be mindful to record images that show emptiness and not necessarily loneliness.

The best representational subjects for this theme are completely deserted streets, with perhaps one or two trash receptacles in silhouette form and slightly illuminated by a street light. The yellow cast often produced by street lighting adds charm to the overall scene and it is worth recording.

Remember to be creative, show the scene as much as you can but do it from a seldom seen perspective such as low to the ground.

This would be the most poignant image to fit the theme but the same can be accomplished by many others, just be open and on the lookout for them and be careful always paying attention to your surroundings.

Did you get any ideas from this article?

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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Credence2: thank you very much

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 6 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Stunning photography on the night scene, thanks for providing them, Cred2

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Genna East: Thank you glad you like it

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      “In the Still of the Night” is the perfect title for this project. Beautiful photos; some of them were so still, it was hard to imagine that the morning sun would illuminate something far different. There is a peace to these scenes that seems surreal. Up and beautiful.

    • JEOrtega profile image

      JEOrtega 6 years ago from Southern California


      The content you choose for your photographs are elegant,poignant, beautiful. Voting up and interesting.

      Thank you!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Lynn: Look at it this the time you are finished with your photo projects you can make a book out of

    • profile image

      Lynn S. Murphy 6 years ago

      The title of the hub grabbed me. Can't help it. And the rest ooooooo. Love the photos very poignant. hmmm...the list increases and decreases. lol!