ArticlesBlog

Night Urban Photography – Dealing With Low Light

Night Urban Photography – Dealing With Low Light


Hi my name is Robin Wong and I want to
talk about low-light photography. A lot of people lose confidence when it comes
to extreme low-light photography. When the sun sets it is at night and the
light drops and they feel that the camera is not good enough or they just
cannot get any good shots. Well of course it is more challenging, of course it will
not be easy, but I strongly believe that photography
can be very interesting in low-light and especially out at night on the streets.
So don’t let this be an excuse, just pick up your camera go out and take some
shots. Tip number one – your camera is good enough, more than good enough. A lot of
people are very afraid that you know they don’t have the full frame camera,
they don’t have the best camera and when they shoot in low-light condition the
camera cannot perform adequately. Well here’s the good news as long as your
camera can power on, and the shutter button still works, you can take some
photographs. Yeah some cameras will struggle in some the situations but it does
not mean you cannot take good photographs. There is a lot more to what
the camera can do and it is a lot more important for you as a photographer to
work around the limitations of a camera and get the shots that you want. Don’t
give yourself excuses, you may not have the most expensive cameras, you may not
have the best capable cameras, yes your camera may not seem like it is enough
but trust me it still can take some fantastic night photography. You can go
out in a low light situation and still grab some good shots. Photography is a
lot more than just what the camera can do, it is about you the photographer and
what you can do with your camera. Tip number two – don’t be afraid to use
high ISO. I know I know, some people when they
see that little bit of ugly grain in the photograph, they immediately say no. This
is bad photography. Seriously there is no correlation between high ISO noise and
good photography. A good photography or good photograph is still a good
photograph whether there is high ISO noise or not, A good photograph is
about the story that you’re telling, the idea that you’re trying to convey, the
emotion that you feel, how you express yourself and there is just so much more
happening in photography than just the technical perfection or the
technicalities inside an image. So yes if you need to boost at high ISO to 6400 or
12,800 or impossible numbers and you will see ugly high ISO noise all over
the image but if you can tell a compelling story, if you have that drama
if there’s something strong in your content, it will still be an
award-winning photograph. Don’t be obsessed with clean images,
don’t be scared just by looking at that tiny little noise shoot high ISO
get the story, get that winning photograph. Tip number three – capture
motion. Nighttime photography or low-light photography is the perfect
location for you to employ slow shutter speed to capture any movement and that
blur can add a lot of drama and impact into your photograph. It can be some
pedestrians walking by the road, it can be cars or vehicles moving around,
slowing it down to capture the light trails it can be any movement so don’t
be afraid to go creative don’t be afraid to think outside the box,
and just go crazy with the camera settings. There’s just so much more to
explore and so much more to do during night and low-light photography. Tip number four – take advantage of the
dark tones and work with shadows in the low-light
environment. Shooting at night or shooting in very dim light it actually
creates opportunity to work with blacks in your image. A darker tone photograph
can convey a different mood and a different feeling when your viewers look
at your photographs shooting at night can certainly have a certain expression
that you can never be able to capture during bright and sunny day during
daytime. Therefore don’t be afraid to explore something different and go out
into the dark and find the subjects in that kind of environment because there
will be stories out there for you to capture, there will be something
different for you to find and all these photographs are unique and a little bit
of variety can go a long way. Tip number five – find something unique to shoot in
your location. Everywhere in the world in every city there will be some special
buildings or unique landmarks where they just look different and magnificent at
night. Find these locations and look for the right opportunity to shoot them
especially when they light up and they look just beautiful. Also find
around the area and look for interesting subjects as well. These are the
interesting subjects that will make your photographs special because you come
from your location and when you share your photographs with people from other
parts of the world they will find it really interesting.
For example streets of Tokyo in Japan just comes alive at night it will be
different from what you see in the streets of Kuala Lumpur where I’m
currently based in. Embrace the beauty of your location, treasure where you come
from and more importantly explore it and capture the beauty. I hope you have found these sharings
useful. I’m sure it is not what you expected, I didn’t ask you to buy a
better camera I didn’t ask you to upgrade your lens, use what you have your
camera is definitely good enough. Bring it out, don’t be afraid of the dark, shoot
at night, shooting in low-light condition, challenge yourself, work with the shadows,
work with the dark tones, increase your high ISO, don’t be afraid of the noise
and certainly go and find something unique to photograph on your location.
There will always be something wonderful to explore and the photographs that you
get at night will look very different from the photographs that you shoot during
the daytime. If you liked this video please give me a thumbs up, please
consider subscribing to my channel and I will definitely do my best to produce
more content and publish it here. Please leave a comment below and let me know
what you want to see in my coming videos. Until next time please go out and take
more photographs Bye Bye.

Comments (100)

  1. Thanks Robin, love you’re enthusiasm & delivery style. Please do more.

  2. Wonderful tips. Really interesting to see all images, very different look. Definitely, I feared to boost high ISO, will not go beyond 1600 ISO. I will try with high ISO.

    Great video.

  3. Great video that is beautiful at night photography, that I take more time and the world around me is not so hectic. As you already say, ISO is not the big issue, which surprised me at first, because the picture is only important as a whole and small details are unimportant.

  4. Thankyou for sharing your knowledge and experience.. this topic as well as all your others! …. JP

  5. I was waiting for Masjid Jamek's fog last week. Disappointed they not releasing it. Might have to come back later. Thanks for the great input!

  6. I like your enthusiasm! And I undestand the ISO, and even sharpness. They do not necessarily make good photos. Thank you for your video!

  7. My memories of starting photography in secondary school include night photography. My parents seldom took me out at night and it was the magical look of street lights and night activities that got me interested. I started in black and white (because I could develop film in the school darkroom) and then progressed to colour. When I was in Uni, I remember the magical night on colour slides.

  8. Thanks, Robin, for an inspirational video. Would love to know what lens and settings you used for those great photos of yours!

  9. I do not care what camera looks like that is down to personal preference. As you say just get out there and shoot. Tony from Liverpool England.

  10. You say it Robin: the photographer take the hot shot, not the equipment. You have to catch the light and compose the Photo. I think this is 90% of a perfekt Photography. The rest is MFT, APS-C or FF

  11. Totally agree! It’s a different realm for the human eye! Different color qualities, different people and nightscapes! I love your clip! Excellent Robin! Big WOW!

  12. Another great video Robin. In your next video would you please recommend the first three pro lenses for a newly purchased camera? For video, landscape, portrait and street photography?

  13. Very very nice video! I’m at very beginning and you gave some useful tips thank you. I tried low light very few times and always ended with blurry or black images! I will practice more!

  14. Really great photos Robin! I really like your attitude in these videos. I know your an Olympus shooter, but I really like these videos where anyone and everyone can learn something!

  15. Hi Robin may be the next video you should put on the setting, good for people like me. Thank you

  16. GREAT TIPS! It's suggested that everyone should keep these tips in mind as you take photos.

  17. Another excellent video with some really good tips! And so true that a compelling image will still be compelling even with some noise whereas a boring image is boring no matter how clean. There's definitely too much obsession with noise and high ISO capability these days.

  18. Robin, this is probably the most inspiring photography video I've ever seen. Your passionate advocacy for 'just do it !' resonates strongly. We see so much whining about this tech spec and that camera, and you've made the point that all that matters is to work with the tools you own. Stop the obsessive gear chase and pause to — take some pictures ! Imagine the possibilities !

  19. Robin: Nice tips AS ALLWAYS. Many of them could have helped me years ago when I've started with the photography. I appreciate this kind of video. En hora buena!!!!

  20. Robin, I really enjoy your videos! Excellent advice! Thank you.

  21. Thank you so much was fantastic!

  22. Robin, very great videos!

  23. Superbe vidéo. Même si je ne comprends pas l'anglais, je pense comprendre les grandes lignes. Merci et continue comme ça.

  24. I love this video and I love your contagious compassions you exhibit in your photography 📸

  25. Thank you for this amazing inspiration! I was in Kuala Lumpur on business a couple of years ago and I really like the city and the people. Greetings from Germany Dirk.

  26. Yes, you can do low light photography with any camera. I can still do it with my Oly TG4 or my old Canon G12 which are just a point & shoot camera. Sometime, one does not even need a tripod.

  27. Robin, Thank you for your helpful and interesting videos! I always look forward to them!

  28. Robin, would you consider doing a video on how to use live composite for fireworks.? I can't seem to get the timing right on when to press the shutter for great firework images.. Thank you.

  29. Excellent Robin thanks.

  30. For those who own an Olympus camera and interested in low light photography should try the Light Composite Mode with a tripod. Check that out.

  31. Please do a review of local camera shops as to their stocks and service quality . I can’t find any decent information online when it comes to Malaysian camera shops! Thanks brother and Happy Merdeka!!!

  32. Thanks… So miss KL and Little India, Sentral….

  33. This was a fantastic video… you make me wish it were nighttime already! Can you do a video on how you approach your subjects (if you ask if you the person for permission, what to do after people notice you taking their picture etc..). Thanks again

  34. 1. (re. your camera is good enough) I agree, as long as one has a tripod and the ability to shoot longer exposures. How about some images with slow optics to demonstrate?
    2. (re. high ISO) Mostly agree. High noise/grain is not generally acceptable for portraits. (except street portraits)

    Along this line of thought, here's an idea for your next video: "Humble equipment + night photography" You could carry maybe a E-PL9 with 14-43 kit lens, and a pocket tripod. I think a lot of the images you showed in this video could've been made with such a rig.

    Awesome video Robin. Nice job. Very inspiring.

    I like the music. What the wrist strap on your SLR @ 9:15?. It looks comfy; reminds me of the one from the Rollei 35, but it looks more flexible. Leather maybe?

  35. Thank you so much!

  36. I have to strongly agree with Robin. Here are some examples of images I took with various – now completely outdated – Olympus digital cameras in low light/at night:

    https://flic.kr/p/8HdC4Y – Taken with an E-520. Yes, that's right. The image made second place in CBRE's Urban Photographer of the Year competition. It's still probably one of my best images ever.

    https://flic.kr/p/8NvMFv – Taken with an E-PL1 and a very old manual focus Minolta lens adapted to the camera.

    https://flic.kr/p/c255KA – Taken with an E-5. I still use that camera occasionally. It's the most solid camera system I have come across. This camera will still work when all other electronics I own have gone the way of the dodo.

    https://flic.kr/p/ngYdio – Taken with an E-M5. That camera unfortunately died on me not that long ago. The 16MP sensor of that generation of MFT cameras was the first major break-through in terms of strongly improved low light capabilities for MFT. I recently bought a mint condition E-PM2 as an additional MFT body for my pocket.

    https://flic.kr/p/etdfbQ – Taken with the E-M5 at ISO6400. Joan used this image for his album cover. It was a candid portrait taken randomly in a Paris music club, as he was waiting to perform.

    All of these were candid, unprepared, in the moment photographs that happened because I happened to have a camera with me. Even if I cared to spend tons of money on heavier, larger, large sensor, low light optimized gear, I wouldn't have necessarily been in the position to take these photographs.

    If you cannot take compelling photographs at night in the city with your current camera, you probably shouldn't be blaming the camera.

  37. Wonderful video, Robin, on one my absolute favorite types of photography. Thank you! BTW, I love what you're doing to show off KL, one of the world's great cities. You're right: shoot what you've got in recognition of its strengths and weaknesses and you'll get amazing images. Here are a few of the goodies I've captured over the past couple of years: https://photos.app.goo.gl/gCpDBpLxdktcVkFS8 . Some of them were shot with really basic and technically not so good lenses. But, I made the best of what they could produce. Oh! And, almost all of them were shot handheld at ISO 6400! Are there any gross noise issues? Nope! Their RAW files were all processed through DxO PhotoLab 2 Ultimate or one of its predecessors with the amazing "Prime" noise removal feature. Prime removes confetti colors without destroying fine details or creating that weird plastic look. A note about PhotoLab 2: it can be used as a standalone RAW processing application or as a Lightroom plugin.

  38. Excellent points; great advice!

  39. Awesome and inspirational! Thanks Robin.

  40. Hi Robin, your enthusiasm is incredible. 🙂 You really know how to encourage people to go out and shoot. Your tips are very useful and the video is not boring. Keep up the good work!

  41. Thank you Robin. Another great "can do" video. No one on the net exudes more of a love of photography than you do. Keep up the great work.

  42. I love your enthusiasm, it screams "just go out and have fun taking photographs!". And it really makes me want to go out and shoot! So it's time for my shutter therapy this evening!

  43. Youtube needs more videos like these, lately every photography video is just about gear or blogging about their lives and don't focus on the actual photography. Love these video man, great work!

  44. I like your passion.

  45. Refreshing, thank you!

  46. On this point I have to agree. There is NO connection with noise and photography. A good photograph is good with or without noise. Too many people, particularly full frame photographers are obsessed with pixel peeping. OMD cameras do produce noise. But so does ALL cameras. Most of the time those who complain about Olympus noise generally are poor photographers who do not have sufficient photographic knowledge. Get out learn your camera and take photos. Forget about pixel peepers, they are not worth worrying about.

  47. FYI There is correlation but no causality !

  48. The only photographers who need to worry about noise and pixels are stock library photographers. Everyone else is good to go with most cameras from the last 10 years.

  49. Dear Robin, thanks for your videos and tips. I love them. Could you please indicate in your videos the camera settings you use for each photo you show? Thank you! All the best, Xavier.

  50. I use my GH 5 in low light situations … and the MFT sensor works!!!!

  51. Thank you for the excellent tutorial.
    Likewise plssssss share your fantastic work more.

  52. Thank you for your video which I found very inspiring.

  53. Excellent video 👍

  54. I like people with passion for what they do and you my friend have that quality, which is visible in your video. Thanks.

  55. Thank you, it's an interesting tutorial. For me it's a little difficult to take a night photographs because the light is often very low, a
    So i have to use a higher iso levels

  56. Wow, great video and really excellent tips. Thanks for sharing

  57. Hello, Robin, I am a new subscriber here. I really enjoy listening to you. I found your channel through Mattis Solanto. Great video. Thank you for sharing these tips.

  58. Nice video, great enthusiasm.

  59. Great video Robin! I love your enthusiasm. Agree on camera/gear comments and the best camera in the world is the one you have with you!

  60. Thank you for passion as a photographer you're right don't look for excuses challenge yourself it's not the camera it's up to you

  61. You are motivating and optimistic.

  62. I watch too many video about photography but ur different ur video is really about photography not for gadget or camera or leneses keep it up now I like ur work bro.thank u for sharing ur nice video from now on I will fallow u

  63. Thanks Robin. Subscribed 🙂

  64. Informative video but I was surprised there was no mention of the use of tripods, which is a must for most low-light night photography. Maybe on another video perhaps.

  65. I request you to make a video to help to push the limits of the kit lens.

  66. Robin, this is one of the best videos on photography that I've seen in months. It didn't tell you about all the gear you need to buy or that you need better gear. Whatever camera you have. A camera is just a tool and you can't buy your way into better photos. If we all just went out there and actually used our cameras and honed our craft, we'd take far better photos than watching videos about how much better this brand is over that brand or mirrorless vs dslr.

  67. My favorite time to shoot is at night but also in the rain. My theory is less than 10% of photographers shoot at night (made up statistic), but even less in the rain. This increases your chance to capture a unique point of view

  68. Love your personality! And just visited KL, great city!To me though every one of your shots is over-exposed.

  69. Good video. Very interesting.

  70. for me a great video …. that was very pointed was is photografie ..is own creativity and art . ….trying out …find the best way ..try try and nr.1 take shots ,,take shots . thx

  71. Robin check the link of the Olympus camera. Wrong link.

  72. Great video, thanks to theoretical and practical explanations

  73. Your enthusiasm and kindness made me want to subscribe within the first 15 seconds.

  74. Thank you Robin, i often do SP at night at KL and often times the places that you, sir are familiar with me. Thank you again of the video and enjoy it very much. Night is a good playground especially with colourful light. Hope to meet you someday:)

  75. Enjoyed your video! Thanks for it. I recently posted a 12800 ISO pic on a photographer network. I choose to shoot it because it showed a pic with a story. Most people wrote to my post 'never used 12800 ISO'

  76. such inspiring words, thank you from the other side of the globe!

  77. Hey thank you!! Your video is very inspiring!!

  78. …great video, great shots…congrats!!!!! Many of my street pics in the night too….on every corner you hav enough light…. 🙂 Maybe on your next pics you can show us your settings in the pics…….i have subscribe !!!! 🙂

  79. Why do all photography videos use the same music?? lol

  80. Kudos for "There is no correlation between high iso noise and good photography !!!" ……….
    The obsession with NO GRAIN really limits what defines good photography.

  81. Lots of good practical photography advice and I love the geographical advice. I want more local pictures in my Instagram, not just clever shots.
    Oh and the easiest way to dive into night photography I found? My iPhone. Seriously it is an amazing night photography device to give you confidence. Try it. It worked for me till I mastered my big camera.

  82. Great video ! Great guy !

  83. Mr. Wong, I have totally fallen in love with your videos and your approach to photography. Your inspiration shines through big time, thanks for sharing and happy shooting. Jan.

  84. Hi Robin Wong,请问您这集的录影是用那样器材录制的呢?谢谢!

  85. Good job Robin, night light shooting, just as unique as day light shooting, your city is beautiful at night, thanks for sharing…

  86. nicely done. Your passion for photography comes through in your video.

  87. First time watching your channel, I request you plz give tips about wedding photography with fill light and Back light how to adjust.
    And I subscribe your channel

  88. Noise is character, Story is King. Thank you 🙂

  89. Love Olympus omd x1

  90. dude you're the best! I love you're philosophy

  91. Robin, great video. I like them so much and I learn a lot from them to understand my camera and to get better pictures. 👍🏻👏🏻👏🏻

Comment here