Camera Equipment

002_DurangoEngineEngineerThe practice of photographing at night means setting up your camera equipment and taking long exposures in the dark.

We will review the details of nighttime exposures in the next post but for now here is a list of the camera equipment you will need to capture your masterpieces in the dark.


  • camera & lens – of course
  • tripod – to hold your camera steady
  • extra lenses – for the possibilities
  • cable release / remote – to open & close the shutter
  • flashlight – to see what you are doing
  • watch / timer – to time your exposures
  • lens wiping tissue or clothe – condensation happens


  • light meter / spot meter – on or off camera
  • flash – off camera for use during a long exposure
  • lantern / extra lights – for lighting or focusing
  • neutral density filters – for longer exposures

REMINDERS : Safety & Precautions

  • Safety First! When you are ready to go outside to photograph, make sure you feel safe. Do not go out to photograph alone, especially into unfamiliar territory. Be sure to dress warmly and comfortably, even on warm nights it can cool down quickly.
  • When you do go out to photograph at night, do not set things down in the dark. It is easy to forget or overlook equipment that you cannot see. Be in the habit of keeping everything on you or in your camera bag.
  • Do not breathe on your lens. On cold nights you can easily fog your lens. You can even cause your lens to ice up when it is below freezing.

IMAGE : Engine & Engineer, Durango Railyard, CO

When I first saw this guy on top of the engine I knew I didn’t have much time. As I ran down the tracks I extended the legs on my tripod. I also double checked that the aperture was at f8 and the shutter was set to “bulb”.

Once in place, I had to frame and focus quickly, then open the shutter. My goal was to get as long of an exposure as I could. So instead of timing my exposure, I waited until the engineer started to move. The exposure turned out to be between 30-45 seconds, pretty perfect.

If I had taken a minute longer to start the exposure, I would have missed it. My experience of handling my camera equipment in the dark really paid off.

IMAGE TINT : GalleryAmber

This B&W image was tinted in Adobe Photoshop with an ICC Profile I generated from my Mac App “SuiteProfiler”. The profile was applied to the image with the “Convert to Profile…” command.

The Profile was derived from the Color Map “GalleryAmber” created in SuiteProfiler. You can open the Color Map in SuiteProfiler if you have a Mac.

Click these buttons to download the ICC Profile and SuiteProfiler Color Map:

EXERCISE : Camera Equipment

Practice setting up your camera & tripod in a dark room in your house. Turn off the lights and use only a flashlight. Make sure you are familiar enough with your camera to make your settings with “your eyes closed” or close to it.

Make sure your digital camera is set to “Manual Exposure” and “Manual Focus”. Your camera may not allow you to take pictures in “auto” modes in the dark.

Shine your flashlight on something, then practice focusing and framing through your viewfinder. Check if you can get a reading with your light meter.

This will prepare you for shooting in dark environments comfortably. Nothing worse than trying to learn something new in the dark.

NEXT TIME : “Exposure Guidelines”


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Welcome to The Art of Night Photography

001_CarlsbadFountainLightningWelcome to The Art of Night Photography, the Blog dedicated to the practice of night photography.

This Blog draws on my 23+ years experience of photographing exclusively at night, as well as my 10+ years experience in teaching classes and workshops on night photography.

Through regular posts, we will explore a wide range of topics dealing with both the technical and the artistic challenges inherent in nighttime and low light photography.

On each post, I will share my experience on a single topic of nighttime image making, and present one of my images as an example. I will also suggest an exercise to help you learn from your own experience.

We will examine black-and-white and color images. We will also cover the technical aspects of capturing images with film and digital cameras. Occasionally we will delve into image production techniques in Adobe Photoshop.

Creating nighttime images is not just a technical venture. We will spend time discussing approaches to image content, composition and impact.

Typically I enhance my black-and-white images through tinting and toning. I do this digitally with custom color profiles created in my Mac App “SuiteProfiler”, which is available in the Mac App Store. I will share my thoughts on this from time to time.

This Blog is designed to address all levels of photographic experience, but we will keep it simple. You will need no expensive or specialized equipment to do the exercises.

So stay tuned, there is a lot to learn about this discovery process called “The Art of Night Photography.”

Don’t miss my future posts! 

Subscribe to The Art of Night Photography by Email.