There are so many interesting things to photograph at night. Stars, lightening, and a multitude of interesting things that can be seen during the day, but have an entirely different look at night. Here are a series of shots I took in the backyard the other night during a lightening storm, along with the how to and some exposure guides.
First things first, I took nearly all the landscape shots at ISO 400, F4.5 for 30 seconds. The timing worked well with both the city lights and the lightening strikes (which were far away). Some shots are brighter than others because there were more strikes, some are darker. Lightening has changing lighting conditions, so it’s hit or miss.
You can take 2 approaches to this. Shoot on bulb and leave the shutter open until the lightening strikes, then close it again - OR - expose for the ambient light and take enough shots to get a few well lit stormy scenes. I used the second technique. If your sky-scape will be entirely filled with lightening (example, you’re closer to the storm or have a really cool telephoto lens), I suggest the first technique.
The moon was a different story. Still at ISO 400, but at f36 for 1/2 second. The moon is very bright, so to catch details and not a large starburst-flare-light blur, use a small aperture and shorter exposure.
However, if you want to blur out the moon and take night shots that simulate daylight, open the aperture back up and go back to a longer exposure. ISO 400, f3.5 for 30 seconds. The shadows and window light have an interesting almost creepy effect. You could take this shot in the day, but it wouldn’t be half as fun.
This last strange shot is of me walking around with my cell phone using a flashing lights app on my droid. Walk around for 30 seconds with any light to get this cool trail effect in long exposures.
So, that’s about it. Grab a tripod and a cable release for your DSLR and experiment. There are so many neat things lurking in the dark for you.