Street Photography at Night

Street Photography at Night

In this post, I want to share with you street photography tips and tricks at night. We’re gonna talk about three different things. The first one is gonna be like kind of street photography settings so can you set up your camera for the different effects on your photos at night in the streets. The second one is gonna be super short on best lenses for street photography at night. Then I want to talk to you about actually different street photography ideas, different concepts that you can shoot in the streets at night. Because it is a totally different world.

Street Photography Settings at Night

I have to say it is always a bit scary to go shoot at night. Not just for safety reasons but your camera is, suffer a lot in terms of you are gonna push the dynamic range as much as possible. Street photography setting wise totally depends on what you are going to shoot.

RELATED POST: What are the Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO?

Shutter Speed

First of all, if you are going for something very traditional where you want to freeze the action you want to set your minimum shutter speed may be a bit slower this time. Because it is nighttime and you don’t want to be pushing too much your cameras High-End ISO. So maybe 1/125 seconds might be good or even slower if you’re shooting still subject at night. I personally shoot mainly an aperture priority with that minimum shutter speed. Actually, at night I shoot a lot in the manual. Because sometimes when the subject is not moving I want to keep my ISO super low not to introduce too much noise.

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So I’m gonna have a low ISO and also slow shutter speed. If the subject is not moving there is no problem but if it’s like food, car etc. that is moving a lot, well I want to shoot like 1/250 which is not going to be a problem. Because there will be so many lights around there at night.

If you’re going for long exposure with the trail of lights of the car feels kind of epic shot you gotta be bringing your shutter speed very slow and shooting in manual. Maybe shooting between 5-30 seconds really to get all those trails of light.


In terms of aperture for me it’s very simple I go as low as possible so like 2.8 – 1.4 if I can. My goal is to get as much light as possible in the Lens. Simply because I don’t want to crank up the ISO too much. I know like when it’s too grainy and some cameras really behave badly in low-light. So you want to have an aperture as low as possible on your Lens. On top of saving your ISO, you also actually get an awesome bokeh. I always love this buttery smooth bokeh that’s absolutely amazing.


Now my last tip on the street photography at night setting part is going to be like underexposed a little bit maybe -0.3. Simply because you want to protect a bit the highlights. For example, you see that shop picture right here that’s actually a print press when you’re gonna shoot it there is so much difference between the outside which is really dark and the inside which is very bright. If you underexposed a little bit your shooting not to be overexposed the inside.

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Gear (Street Photography Lenses)

In terms of gear there’s one thing and one thing only you should remember. That one thing is simply at night and the most important item you’re gonna have in your bag is going to be the lens.

Now a lot of people might tell you the gear is not that important. I can tell you the best lens for street photography at night is gonna change everything in night photography in the streets. So what do you want? You want a prime lens for example with the smallest aperture possible something like 1.2 1.4 1.8 2.0 2.8 anything below 2.8 is gonna be great. There are few reasons behind that;

First one is you want to be saving your sensor. You don’t want to be cranking up your ISO too much. The lens could preserve it from the noise have nice and sharp shots without so much grain.

The second reason is actually to get what I love and it’s the bokeh the really buttery smooth background. Bokeh at nighttime photography with lights in the background it just gets absolutely beautiful and smooth.

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So now as I mentioned you want to shoot at very shallow aperture and actually this is what a lot of photographers used for example the one who do like neon light shots at night. They use a very shallow aperture. That way the neons are very buttery and it just creates a very nice ambience in the background.

My Personel Choice Lenses

Personally, I like any lens like that is my go-to right now I’m on the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM. If I were, if I could I would be on Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM. I’m telling this would be the bomb. If you don’t have the money for those lenses Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM will cost you nothing and will do marvels in street photography with 50mm.

Now there is the second amenity in gear. I don’t use a tripod at night photography. The reason is that it’s big bulky to carry. A bigger tripod I do take it but mostly in nature shots. They are super practical whenever you want to do long exposure. But if I’m not doing like pure long exposure in the nature I’m not taking the big tripod. I’m taking the small one in city and streets. There’s always a table, ground something somewhere where you can put your camera. Also your backpack just put your backpack on the ground put your camera on the backpack that works really well.

Street Photography Ideas At Night

Let’s talk about street photography at night ideas. Alright in terms of concepts there are so many things you can do. Well first of all you can go for the small street with ambient light where you can shoot you know like the torque shadows, people being lit up with just one little light. I really loved those shots they’re always great at night.

Background and Bokeh

Now there are also something a bit more modern where people use neon lights. They used lights in the background. This is very trendy right now to get those like portrait shots, so maybe find a friend get those shots or if you really skilled shoot strangers. But that gets really difficult to get something super nice in my opinion.

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An also play with the bokeh you’ve got the small lights in the background and when you sit at the shallow aperture it just looks so beautiful. This is something you can really be using and you advance it.

Use Reflection

Another one is basically use reflection. It’s very simple if it rains and at night on the street it looks really beautiful because there is a lot of reflection it’s really cool.


Now remember to get street photography at night is more. It is all about thinking in your environment. What are you going for? Are you going for the small streets? or Are you going for the epic shots of the buildings? This is something else you could do.

Totally go for it and remember to try to sink into your environment. Take your leg, like really spend time looking at giving for the small street. Be sure you just sit there spend five minutes and look at what’s happening what people are doing. Train your eyes to actually see those little moments even without shooting. That’s gonna help a lot because you’re gonna have an idea of what you want to shoot and then it’s gonna be easier.

It’s not like daytime where you can just grab the camera and like shoot two hundred shots and they are all gonna be sharp, NO! Here it gets a lot more tricky, so remember use the minimum shutter speed for what you’re doing and you’re gonna have a blast.

Get out there go shoot many nine-person of your shots might be crap but go for the one person really go for it. At that moment when you are sitting you are maybe editing and you are a bit lazy to get out well push through I put on some awesome music it really motivates me to get out there.


If your photography, if you are taking photos remember you are here to tell stories so maybe listen to people who are telling you stories. I just wanted to tell you that awesome stories don’t happen every time but when it does it’s always very unique and you never know what life throws at you so just keep your heart open to new opportunities and don’t be shy.

Do you have any other information about street photography? Left your ideas and questions in the comments section below! and please don’t forget to follow on Twitter @kuulphoto


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