Night Photography - How to find the correct Exposure

If you're like me and you like to take images in the dark, you'll inevitably know the problem.

What is the easiest way to find a correct exposure?

Of course you can just use the trial-and-error methode, which means you'll just set all the parameters and then guess the correct exposure time. But as you'll probably set the ISO as low as possible (usually at ISO 100) and the aperture at around f/8 for a good depth of field, the resulting exposure time will be anything up from 30 seconds and longer.

I don't like waiting and exposing for 30 seconds and then find out that it's too short or too long.

So here is THE TIPP

Set the camera on manual mode to ISO 6400 and you're requested aperture value and expose. Pick a time at around half-a-second for a cityscape for example.

If you check the result now on the back of the camera and the image looks dark and the histogram looks anything like that:

That picture seems to be underexposed, so just raise the exposure time, maybe double it. And then expose again. Of course the same goes if it were overexposed.

If you're then satisfied by the general brightness of the image, take that time you've used, take 1.5 seconds as an example. Don't worry about any noise in the image: Remember, we have used ISO 6400 to reduce the time to find the correct exposure.

Now comes the magic of math:  If you reduce the ISO from 6400 to 100, then you'll just need the swap the exposure time from seconds to minutes.

The Testshot was made with ISO 6400 in 1.5 seconds

--> Set ISO 100 and use 1.5 MINUTES and that will give you the exact same brightness, just with the best possible image quality by using ISO 100

Please check back for new tipps and tricks or leave a comment below.

Also let me know if you have an idea for a new tutorial

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