Vincent Laforet is a professional filmmaker and photographer renowned for his aerial photography of Alpha cities at night. Laforet recently visited Sydney as a guest of Canon Australia where he shared a handful of nocturnal shooting tips.
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The below common-sense tips are aimed at photographers looking to improve their nighttime output by utilising different light palettes and colours that are not present during the day.
No tripod? No problem
“When it comes to night shooting, a tripod is always ideal to have but it’s a tool that’s not always on hand. I’ve never let this stop me! You just have to find a way to immobilise the camera. To do this, I often rest my arms or my entire body against a wall to keep still and place the camera on top like a table. If you don’t want to use your body, you can use any solid surface, and I mean anything. From wallets to pencils to spoons to sugar packets – I’ve used them all. Just angle the camera so you can walk away from it and get a longer exposure.”
Use the right lens
“Your biggest enemy at night is the fact that there is very little light. The best way to tackle this is by using bright lenses or prime lenses that open up to wide apertures. The best kind of lenses are f1.2, 1.4, 1.8 or F2. These days, cameras with a high ISO (e.g. 3200 IOS and above) will help you get pretty incredible low light results via f2.8 or f4 lenses.”
The right light
“At night, be sure to pay attention to the different types of colours that are emanated from artificial light sources. You’ve got tungsten light or just yellow or sodium vapour light; you’ve got green fluorescence or magenta fluorescent light; and you’ve got blue LED lights that are daylight balanced. You can have a lot of fun producing some pretty incredible images in places where these different types of colours come together. You’ll notice that different cities use different lights which makes shooting cityscapes really special.”
Use the self-timer
“Using a tripod is the most obvious way to tackle night photography, but make sure you also use the self-timer button! This will help make sure that you don’t shake the camera when you push the shutter button to get the best results from the long exposure. If you shoot at 15, 30 seconds or even a few minutes, you’ll start to see your subjects move and change during the shot which is special. For example, when shooting in a city, you’ll see clouds moving, you’ll see streaks of cars, and in many instances, you’ll see people disappearing all together into kind of a ghostly fashion.
“At night you have a lot of new elements to play with and through your camera, you will see your city in an entirely different way at night, so have fun!”
Hosted by Canon, Vincent Laforet visited Australia in July 2015 to shoot Sydney at night for his upcoming AIR Project, which will launch in late 2015.