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Photographing Summer Nights

Photographing Summer Nights

With the summer months upon us which is the best season on earth, and unfortunately shortly coming to an end, we thought it would be prudent to give some photography tips and tutorials for photographing the with night sky during the summer days.

During this time of year, when trying to get great photos during shooting night photography, there are several factors which will assist you in achieving this goal. What are some of the photography ideas that can help you get the best exposure for the time of the day for example when the the dark sky may impede your photography? Are there special camera settings that need to be adjusted? Are there some specific cameras that are good for taking summer photography? And, finally, what summer photography tips can we provide to ensure that your summer night photos are the “talk of the town”.


Golden Hour

The golden hour is the period of time during the first hour of light after sunrise, and the last hour of light before sunset times when the color of the sky goes from red and orange to yellow. This is especially prevalent during summer days when the sun will be out more often. So what photography tips can we provide when shooting video recordings or still photos during this time of the day? Please keep in mind that many of these tutorials will apply not just to the golden hour but night sky photography in general.

  1. Make sure to use a golden hour calculator to calculate the golden hour time. Check when golden hour starts and sunset times ends to obtain the best light sources during golden hour light.

  2. We recommend the following settings for taking golden hour photos during sunset times. Set your camera to manual mode. Select 100 ISO set your shutter speed to 1/30 seconds or longer, you want a faster shutter speed. During sunrise you will want the lowest possible ISO setting. Noise will be lowered and make sure that a wide angle lens is being used to get the best depth of field.

  3. If you are a landscape photographer when shooting during the golden hour, you want the exposures to reflect some of the beautiful work done or landscape scenery. When shooting golden hour landscape photography, set ISO to 100 as opposed to a high ISO, a narrow aperture as opposed to a wide aperture like f/1.6 and a shutter speed of 1/30 or 1/60.

  4. The golden hour is a great time for silhouette photography. Shooting silhouettes is a breeze during this time of the day. Make sure to have your subject in front of the light source and shoot towards the sun. The back round of the image, the light source is behind the subject. This will make the subject of your shot really stand out.


Cameras and Lens

Obviously having the right camera and lens is one of the first places to start when shooting during summer nights. There are many cameras and lenses which can help you get the exposure that you are looking for, so let’s delve a little deeper into some of these great options.

One of our favorite cameras that is just perfect for summer night shooting is the Sony a7R IV Alpha Full Frame Mirrorless Camera Body 61MP 4K HDR Video. This camera has some fantastic features, let’s explore:

  • 61.0 Mega Pixel Spectacular Image Resolution

  • 10FPS Burst Shooting up to 68 images

  • Amazing class leading high-speed BIONZ X image processing engine, is standard which precisely reproduces details, and reduces noise.

  • Dual media slots with support for memory cards rated at up to UHS II. So, storage of content shot during the summer nights should not be a worry for you.

  • Enhanced Real Time Tracking and advanced auto focus.

  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB-C and HDMI ports are available for connectivity. You can seamlessly connect to the Sony App for post processing of your exposure. The app is also a great educator on how to use the camera best.

  • Many additional features are available on this fantastic powerful camera.

Another Camera which is great for summer night photography is the Canon EOS R50 Mirrorless Camera with RF-S 18-45mm F4.5-6.3 IS STM Lens. Starting at a great price point, this camera could be just the one for you.

Some of the specs and features of this camera that you will enjoy and is a great option in this scenario:

  • 24.2 effective Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor for high quality photos.

  • Ability to shoot at 4K uncropped video recordings at up to 30 fps oversampled from 6K!

  • 12 Frames per Second or FPS for the Electronic First Curtain and 15 FPS Electronic Shutter for continuous shooting

  • Automatic subject detection and tracking.

  • UVC/UAV compatibility for livestreaming to some of the top social media sites or Zoom.

  • Additional features for this wonderful camera, priced so well and great for Vlogging (which can also be done when the night sky is dark. This is a great camera for general photography as well.

What about lenses? We have discussed cameras so what kind of lenses should we be looking at when talking about summer night photography? Whether you are looking for a telephoto lens, or a wide angle lens, these lens options should have you covered.

Camera Settings

Having the correct settings on your camera when shooting summer night photography is paramount. Some of the camera settings that we will discuss will assist you in getting great photos during the summer months.

  1. Switch your camera to manual mode. With the lack of light sources at night, you will want to have full control over aperture, ISO and shutter speeds.

  2. During the dark night sky in the summer months, your camera will be more sensitive to light sources. Setting a higher ISO, for example around 800, this will help as ISO determines your cameras sensitivity to light.

  3. Use a wide aperture of at least f/2.8 or f/4. This will widen the lens opening to allow for more light to enter the exposure.

  4. Landscape photography during the summer months need slow shutter speeds. However, when photographing cityscapes at night in the summer, a faster shutter speed would be required as there are more light sources in city areas.

  5. Capturing star trails can be absolutely beautiful. Gorgeous star trails create an arc of light that when your camera is set to long exposure photos, you can achieve amazing exposures.

  6. Getting great exposures during the summer months may also entail light painting. Light painting is getting the photo of light in motion and allowing you to paint the light around anything in your photograph. You can even use that light to create images around the subject or object you are photographing.

  7. Taking photographs of a full moon is much easier with a clear night sky during the summer months. Set your camera to ISO 100 or 200 and aperture between f/5.6 and f/11. A fast shutter speed and wide-angle lens are preferable in this lighting situation.

  8. Use Adobe Lightroom or another post processing photoshop suite to enhance and alter your exposure.

  9. Consider using umbrellas in your photography. This will allow you to achieve softer more pleasing lighting in your exposures.

  10. If you are looking to photography the Milky Way we recommend an aperture of F/2.8 and remember to use manual mode as manual focusing in this situation is best.

    summer night

Final Thoughts

In summation, as we mentioned above there are several factors to achieving that great exposure during these summer months. Using the correct camera and lens, with the camera settings we discussed will have showing off your summer photography in no time.

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