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How To Photograph At Night | A Breakdown With Stuart Palley

By Kishore Sawh on August 14th 2016

There’s a sort of natural allure to photographing at night; perhaps it’s the fact that everything under moonlight and starlight looks just a bit different, even the common. The banality of a scene you’ve looked at a hundred times over can be completely outdone by simply looking at it when the sun’s dropped behind the horizon.

Such is the nature of light play. It’s simple, but profound, though capturing it in-camera can be anything but. Giving an all ‘round primer to photographing at night, photographer Stuart Palley together with TIME magazine created the video herein.

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At only about 4 minutes long it’s impressive just how much Palley leaves the viewer to sit with and take in. It isn’t an exercise in technical execution where he’ll have you busy yourselves with the minutiae of a set up, but rather giving broad strokes to tell how you to think about and approach night photography, with a few specifics thrown in.


Yes, there are some platitudes, but just because they’re trite doesn’t mean they don’t warrant a mention, such as how much of a good night shot is planning beforehand versus the momentary movements of the shutter. In order to help with planing Palley goes into what to think about, and how to up your chances of finding the right spot at the right time by using the right apps. He uses two worth mentioning:

Dark Sky Finder: Helps find the darkest areas of the sky across the world at any given time.

Photopills: Photopills may actually warrant a review on its own from us, given it’s such an all encompassing app that allows you to calculate all the necessary numbers and timings and parameters to get successful night shots, as well as offer an augmented reality option.


While not the be-all end-all of night photography instruction, it’s certainly worth the listen if you’ve ever had a passing interest in the subject, or are a seasoned veteran of it.

You can find more about Stuart here, and on his Instagram.

Source: ISO1200

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Karen Borter

    wow … pretty inspiring stuff there. Makes me want to get out and do more night time photography!

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  2. Colin Woods

    I can give a thumbs up for Photopills. Compared to the thousands we drop on hardware, $12 for this gem of an app is implausibly good value. Every photographer should have it, as there is something on it for everyone. Its far from being a night shooter’s app.

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  3. Tom Blair

    Good info as always

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