How to Make Colorful Photos at Night

The magnificent Red Square on a warm summer's evening in Moscow, Russia.

When it comes to photography night time is most certainly the right time. There’s something really special about the night. Time seems to move at a slower pace and the world around us seems to quieten. You can notice how your senses seem to heighten and, as a result, you become more aware of what’s going on around you. It’s at times like this when I feel like I’m experiencing the world at a deeper level, which is a great help in focusing my attention and my creative efforts.

Into Red Square We Marched

Red Square is an amazing place, particularly at night. I made this picture with the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral just behind me and to my right. The walls to the Kremlin are clearly evident on the left side of this photo. I spent hours in Red Square. It was packed with a steady throng of tourists moving through the space. I included them in some photos and lifted my tripod up to exclude them in others. In this case I position myself behind a temporary barrier so as not to have any people in front of the camera when I made the photo.

Behold! The Dynamic Duo

Light and Color are intractably bound together. To reveal the color of your subject you must light it. There are several reasons, other than the iconic nature of the structures themselves, why Red Square is such an incredible place for night photography.

  1. So many of the buildings and structures around the square are illuminated.
  2. The light brings out the color, shape and texture of those structures.
  3. The structures are, by their nature, colorful. The onion shaped domes of St. Basils Cathedral, for example, feature green, yellow and blue hues.

Making Great Photos at Night

The key to great night photography is to ensure that you are photographing interesting subject matter that is well lit. To take this notion a step further, try not to think so much about the building or structure in question, but about the light that illuminates it and what that light reveals from both a compositional point of view (e.g., color, shape and texture) and, also, the story it propagates about power, majesty, state or religion. The vestiges of Russian power, both historical and contemporary, are clearly evident in Red Square. And that’s why this is such an amazing place to photograph.

Night Photography Workshop
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Announcing Night Photography Workshop

I’m running the winter version of my popular Night Photography in the City of Melbourne Workshop next Thursday 10 July from 5:30pm. It’s an early start, I’II be there to welcome the super keen from 5pm, and an early finish so as not to interfere too much with your usual working week schedule.

Please be aware that this is probably the only Night Photography Workshop I’II be running unit later in the year and that the workshop includes a maximum of 8 participants.

At $88, including a free eBook to help prepare you for the workshop, it’s great value. What’s more the entire session is conducted outside and is 100% practically based: just you, your camera and me to help you make amazing photos.

I hope to meet you in person next Thursday 10 July 2014. It’s going to be a fun, informative and creative experience.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru