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Night Photos on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive

The Red Burrito I love night photography and Vancouver is a great place for it. My favourite time for taking night shots is during the first hour after sunset. It’s called “The Blue Hour” – when the sky is a beautiful rich blue – even when it’s overcast. But it is dark enough for the city lights, which adds more interest and drama to the shots. Buildings, traffic signals, cars, neon signs all look great at night. After about one hour, the sky turns dark and doesn’t look quite as cool.

I took this photo on Commercial Drive, which comes to life in the evening with lots of people enjoying the restaurants, coffee shops and bars or just picking up some groceries at the shops.

Some tips for night photography:

  • Bring a tripod! The shutter speeds will be too slow to take handheld shots. If your camera takes decent pictures at high ISO settings and has image stabilization, you might be able to get some good handheld shots with a faster shutter speed.
  • Use a cable release or remote if you have one. If not, use the self-timer so that you do not touch the camera during the shot giving, you sharper images.
  • I turn off the image stabilization with my camera (Olympus E-510). The image stabilization is unnecessary with a tripod and actually adds motion blur!
  • Try f/16 or smaller apertures – the lights will have more twinkle and bright lights will have starry rays!
  • Moving cars look very cool with long shutter speeds
  • Moving people will be ghostly and blurry – sometimes totally disappear. I like the motion blur effects as it adds more energy to the shot. If you want sharper focus for the people in the foreground, you can use a flash.
  • Try different white balance modes – tungsten and fluorescent often look really good. Daylight mode will look warm and orange which can give a cozy feel to some scenes. If you shoot in raw format you can easily play around with the white balance when you process your raw files.

Here’s a slideshow of some of the night images on “The Drive”:

Here’s another version of the photos in a music video style slideshow: Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

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