Photo Challenge Week 2 Recap: Night

Hi everyone! Week Two of the Outdoor Photography Guide Photo Challenge is now done, and once again we have an incredible collection of photos submitted by participants. It seems that plenty of you were willing to brave the things that go bump in the night to try your hand at photography in the dark. Below are a few of my favorites.

This week’s best shots

Allison Davies submitted this very creative photo. For me, the essence of great photography is the process of artistic transformation: using the creative process to move beyond a merely literal and documentary capture of your subjects. Allison’s shot here does just that, and I like her creative use of bokeh and reflections (assignments for a later date). You can learn more about her photo here.

Composition is important when making night photographs (okay, composition is always important), as is nicely illustrated by Don Miller’s photo of Amsterdam at night. I really like how he used the two boats to create compelling diagonal lines leading the viewer from foreground to background. Some cloud action in the sky would have really put this photo over the top, but it is wonderful as is. You can learn more about this shot here.

I love mixing natural twilight with artificial lights. Usually, there is only a short period of time when the two are of equal strength, so timing is important. Sandipan Paul’s twilight cityscape is a perfect example of how to get this technique right. You can learn more here.

I really love this next photo by Rita Anthony; it makes me want to visit Chicago! The reflections on the sculpture, and the “Russian nesting doll” effect created by the diminishing scale of repeating shapes, help pull the eye to the buildings in the background. Once again, some clouds in the sky would have been icing on the cake, but this is a wonderful shot as is (as you can probably guess, I think clouds are really important to outdoor photography – stay tuned for an article on the subject coming next month). You can learn more about Rita’s image here.

Russ Hons submitted a wonderful night photo of the Perseid Meteor Shower and the Aurora Borealis—quite lucky timing! I especially like the few drifting clouds passing by in the shot, which in my opinion always liven up photos of the stars in the sky. You can learn more here.

Deb Wheeler-Hildreth deftly got around what is often a problem with night shots: too much darkness. By shooting a stunning fireworks display reflected in the water, her night shot is bold and colorful. You can learn more here.

When shooting at night, you shouldn’t limit yourself to working only with ambient light. Jane Scott Norris did some light painting on these cacti (presumably with a flashlight), bringing this night shot to life. The trick is to avoid brightening your subject too much; I prefer just a hint of light, enough to reveal the subject but not too much to overwhelm the natural ambient light. You can lean more here.

These are just some of the photos that jumped out at me, but there were many wonderful shots submitted for Week Two so please make sure to visit the Photo Challenge Facebook Group to see more. If you have any questions about any of these photos, just follow the links provided above and leave a comment directly for the photographer. I’m looking forward to seeing what you all do with Week Three. Good luck!

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About the author: World-renowned professional photographer and Tamron Image Master Ian Plant is a frequent contributor to several leading photo magazines and the author of numerous books and instructional videos. You can see more of Ian’s work at www.ianplant.com.

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