The days are getting shorter and the nights colder but that won’t stop thousands of people from hitting the streets of Sydney after dark this May.
From May 22nd until June 8th, Sydney will light up after dark as part of the Vivid Sydney Festival of Ideas. Buildings, sculptures, billboards, the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, laneways, tunnels, light gardens, 3 metre tall dolls – all will be splashed in bright, colourful light.
This is a truly spectacular way to see the city and you’ll want to be able to capture it in all its glory. Here are five tips on how to take photos after dark:
1.Tripod, tripod, tripod
Low light photography requires long shutter speeds – the camera essentially takes longer to take a photo so it can capture as much light as possible. A tripod or a monopod will make a big difference to your photos. If you don’t have one of these, find a seat, a fence, anything you can rest your camera or even your phone on.
2. Focus on the light
This may sound obvious, but make sure you take the exposure off the brightest object you’re taking a photo of. If you’re using a smartphone, this is as easy as tapping on the brightest spot you’re shooting. DSLR cameras have greater control over exposure so make sure you know how to adjust exposure on your DSLR before heading out in the dark.
3. Light Trails
As mentioned above, your camera sensor needs to be open for a longer period of time when there isn’t a lot of available light. If you’re using a smartphone, download a slow shutter speed app. If you’re after beautiful, picture perfect shots of what you’re seeing in front of you, a slow shutter will give you the best results. If you’re keen to experiment a little, you can also use a slow shutter to capture light trails. Set the slow shutter and slowly move the camera from left to right, or keep your camera still and focus on moving lights eg car lights.
4. Zoom in
Buildings, bridges and sculptures – basically anything stationary – are great for trying out zoom blur photography. Set your camera up on a tripod or something solid, choose a long exposure, zoom right in on your subject matter, focus, zoom right out and then press the shutter. Once the shutter is open, slowly move your zoom out. You’ll need a shutter speed of at least 1 to 4 seconds. Zooming out will blur the light captured on the sensor.
5. People play a part
There are expected to be plenty of crowds at Vivid Sydney so be prepared to have lots of people in your shots. Embrace it, get artistic, or if you’re really serious about wanting people-free shots, try going later at night midweek.