Ecuadorian Cathedral at Night
Whenever you are shooting shots at night your primary challenge is going to be around stability. In this case we need thei ecuadorian cathedral night shot to be as crisp as possible. This comes down to the type of TriPod that you use. Try to use a very heavy or sturdy one to give you the most stability.
Another aspect you will battle will be any weather issues. When taking shots at night you need to enable a longer shutter speed. This means that you will be sucesptible to any wind or other movement problems. If there is wind - you may need to take that into account when setting your shutter and aperture settings.
When I setup night shots like this I often take several shots with a flash being blasted and wide open aperture to let in as much light as possible. Even though the exposure may not look good, it helps me evaluate the composition of the shot. If I need to make any adjustments, such as changing my position, changing my angle, etc... I can do so quickly without wasting a lot of time. Once I have the composition that I want - I can then start working towards the proper exposure.
When I am taking nights shots I tend to set me settings in a particular order. First I will set my ISO settings to something between an ISO of 100 and an ISo of 400. I will first start off as low as possible and will up the ISO later if the shutter speed ends up being too long.
Once I have the ISO figured out I then decide on the aperture setting that I want to use. it is often tempting to use an aperture of f3.0 or something so large that it let's tons of light in, but I often find that when I keep my aperture around f8 it allows the light to do interesting things.
Now that my ISO and Aperture are set, my camera automatically calculates out how long of a shutter speed I will need. This is where things can get tricky and you will want to try some experimentation. if you are using an ISO of 100 and an aperture of f8 or smaller, then chances are that you are going to have a long expsoure. if there is no wind and you have a good steady tripod then i say try it out with the long exposure. if there is a littl ebit of wind then you may want to try capturing some additional shots with a higher ISO so that you shutter speed is faster. When the image is enlarged you may notice slight grain, but the crititcal part of the shoot is that the photo returns sharp focus.
When you get to the post production phase you may find that the majority of your work revolves around dust cleanup and maybe some level balance. Often when we take photos of high contrast black skys and white lit buildings, the levels and white balance may appear as slightly off. Don't be afraid to use your Photo Editing tool to adjust the levels and correct any whitebalance issues.
For the image above some slight level adjustment was done as well as some slight clone stamp tool work to remove dust particles that show easily against the black sky.
Ben Hall lives in the San Francisco Bay Area working as a software engineer. Photography is a side passion that Ben can't seem to get enough of. His favorite subjects are Landscapes, Underwater and action shots.