14 October 2014


If there's one little letter on your camera that you've been avoiding then this is post is for you. For someone who is constantly snapping away it seems a bit ridiculous that manual mode can cause me such anguish, but with cameras and iPhones being all oh so easy to use what with their point and click, I'm the first to admit I've become a bit lazy when it comes to switching to manual mode, especially at night *shudders*. Yep that little M just sitting there all innocent, well if you're like me and changing over to manual is more like photo russian roulette, I have some great tips to share with you.

The other week the lovely people over at Transun invited some bloggers to Cardiff for a Night Photography workshop with Simon, on how to photograph the Northern Lights *cue dreamy sigh* and city night sky. Held at the Chapel, you can picture the scene, a room full of eager bloggers all clutching their Digital SLR's, ready to put some new skills to the test.

Click to read more

I got to hang out with some super blogger pal's Laura, Adele and Gemma, all the while sipping coffee and taking notes. So after lots of chat and really getting to grips with our cameras, we got an opportunity to go outside to experiment with light and have some fun. I was quite impressed how easy it was to create fun images and light painting.

So here is a little info about your camera and some tips on photographing at night:

• ISO  
This affects Noise/Grain on your image and control how much light is absorbed. 200 is the average ISO level and this should be the last thing to change before Aperture and Shutter Speed

• Aperture 
This affects Depth of Field which acts like a pupil letting in light. The lower the number, the wider the aperture and the more light is let in. If you're using a lower number the more blur you get on your image. So the wider the aperture (smaller number, i.e. f2.8), the less is in focus, whereas the smaller the aperture (bigger number, i.e. f22), the more is in focus.
Don’t forget - The aperture also controls the amount of light reaching the sensor. So, at f2.8, more light gets in and at f22, less light gets in.

• Shutter Speed
This affects Motion and controls how quick the shutter is open for. The higher the faster the shutter, 1/250 is 250th of a second. If using 1.5 seconds it will appear with a like this 1.5" this is much slower and allows more of the image to be taken in. When using fast images think a fast shutter speed when photographing still images use 8 seconds or above.

A rough guide to shutter speeds
1/4000 - 1/2000 will stop the wings of a hummingbird
1/1000 - 1/500 will freeze an athlete running
1/250 - 1/60 will stop everyday motion
1/30 - 1/8 will blur motion
0.5 - 30” will capture low light, motion and long exposures

Top Tips:

•When photographing at night make sure you take a tripod, as this will be key when taking long exposed still images of the night sky. However if you're stuck without one don't fret, make use of your surroundings; A rock, tree stump or anything you can rest your camera on will act as a tripod.

•Make sure you take a decent camera bag to protect your equipment from elements, especially if shooting in a cold location like northern Scandinavia. There's nothing worse then going to take shoot and the battery being dead.

•It's a good idea to try and use a point of perspective when photographing the night sky. Think low rocks, trees, mountains peaks. Also try shooting from different angles, if you're snapping the night sky set your camera low to the ground or at least pointing up!

•Preparation is key. Always set up your camera first where possible, if photographing fireworks or the northern lights change your camera settings before leaving the house and do a test shot once outside. You don't know how quick you'll need to start shooting.

•To make sure you get a crisp image, focus the image in auto mode then switch to manual before taking the picture.

•Feel free to edit your image afterwards, Photoshop is great but you can even use iPhone apps to edit such as Snapseed, Afterlight and VScom.

I can't wait to get to grips with capturing Halloween, Fireworks and one day the Aurora Borealis. I could even try and recreate a ghostly F image like this one!

You can find more about the event from the Transun Blog with some extra tips and tricks. Thanks Transun for a fab night of learning.



  1. great tips.... I've been making myself use my camera on manual lately!

  2. You covered a lot of ground here. Your images turned out so well! Lovely to hang out with you there. Thanks for the shout-out.

  3. Lori I really love your photography and was totally down about missing this but have really enjoyed reading your post - hopefully see you on this side of the bridge again soon :)

    Laura x

  4. Great tips - I really wish I was brave enough to switch to manual occassionally...it's so easy to get lazy. Love your photos.

  5. I was so disappointed to not be able to make this so I am pleased to be able to read your tips. I will certainly get practising on my camera!

    1. Shame you couldn't make it, and glad the tips helped. I can't wait to try them out for Halloween and fireworks x



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