Snapshooting 101 (night class)

After some snapshooting basics and some night mode techniques, we’re into night classes now.

For our third Snapshooting 101 class, we’re taking digital snapshooting to the darkness of the night. What’s the trick with snapshooting using night mode?

Night Mode

The thing with night mode is that some photos come out blurred or dizzy. Sometimes people look like ghosts. I know, I know, that sometimes depends on the gory faces of your subjects, but night mode has this tendency of capturing subjects as translucent ghost-like images. What’s up with that? Well, sometimes this is caused by camera shake.

The ghosts of Night mode
The ghosts of night mode

Because the shutter is kept open for a longer time, any camera shake will affect the sharpness of the photo.

So, how do you reduce camera shake? I tried and tried and tried to keep my hands still when I use night mode in the evening. I still have that camera shake (which isn’t so bad at all, unless you want a sharp photo; see further below). I tried resting my elbows or hands on a railing. This does reduce camera shake a bit.

Camera shake case #1: Just holding the camera, trying to hold it still Camera shake case #2: Trying to reduce camera shake by propping my elbows/hands on solid railings
Camerashake case #1:
Just holding the camera, trying to hold it still
Camera shake case #2:
Trying to reduce camera shake by propping my elbows/hands on solid railings

And then I discovered a technique during our trip that _eliminates_ camera shake. The trick is:
1.) Set your camera on night mode
2.) set your camera timer “œOn”
3.) put your camera on a solid surface and point it at your subject
4.) press the shutter button and then remove your hands from the camera

Camera shake case #3: Shake no more! Use the timer mode
Camera shake case #3: Shake no more! Use the timer mode

“Shake your head and walk awaaaay!” – eheads
Let the camera take the picture in timer mode without you holding it ““ no more camera shake! 😉 Ayos ba?

Night mode is pretty when you have nice background lights. Try *not* using the flash with the night mode, and you might come out with prettier shots without the flash. Here are two shots using the technique given above with nightmode and timer.

In retrospect, I would have wanted to have more night mode photos that had still elements (e.g. beautiful skyscrapers) *and* some illuminated moving elements (e.g. a boat cruising by, or cars/buses zipping through some roads, or cable cars with blinking christmas lights). Snapshots like those could have been quite pretty.

Let me end by quoting a professional photographer I watched over BBC. He said “I don’t bother focusing the camera anymore.” Taking photos with camera shake does have it’s own beauty in it. I like taking night mode shots to capture motion during night (like the boats cruising by in the photos above). It’s just a matter of playing around and experimenting.

Intentional camera shake using night mode. Taken in a revolving viewdeck: Carlsberg tower at Sentosa, Singapore
Intentional camera shake using night mode. Taken in a revolving viewdeck: Carlsberg tower at Sentosa, Singapore

I hope you found the snapshooting tips helpful. Do you have any tips of your own? Do share some of your own tips!

ka edong

Note: None of the photos in this Snapshooting class are digitally modified. My face is naturally like that and there’s not much I can do about it :-p .

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  • hi, i am using a low-class camera and your article really gave me ideas. well, i havent tried it yet but this still gives idea. anyway, it’s kinda bad that my camera only flashes once every shutter clicks. so i’d better not use flash anymore. i’ll try it. lotsathanks.

  • Those cheap small tripods will also be helpful specially when you want an angled shot.

  • Mark

    I want to enroll myself in a Photography class. I just wish that you can post schedules for those who are offering crash courses for basic photography to professional photography. Thank you….

  • ernest

    ei anyone? i want to buy slr cam, no idea which is good to use. damn it i only use digital cam, i know im better than this when i get slr. help

  • richard

    I was searching for more on camera shake after reading Natalie Norton’s post on the matter. Check it out here for her 6 tips on how to avoid camera shake:

    http://digital-photography-school.com/blog/how-to-avoid-camera-shake/