Night photography: tripod-less traumas

The one piece of advice given to anyone keen on taking quality night shots is to use a tripod.

Despite owning two, I never find this particularly useful because tripods are too bulky to fit in handbags and I never seem to plan in advance enough.

Thankfully, I have developed some techniques to ensure relatively clear photos in the dark.


The Bund is the obvious place for glitzy night shots in Shanghai. This can be fraught with obstacles due to the pollution that sometimes obscures skycrapers, as well as the masses of tourists jostling for viewing space.

Luckily, my Canon 100D (and many other cameras, I’m sure) has a great setting called ‘handheld night scene’. It takes four pictures in quick succession, then stitches them together into one shot. The aim of this being to eliminate camera shake and stabilise the image. The photo above was the result of a good few attempts, but I think it turned out pretty well in the end!


The above shot was also taken from The Bund, focussing on the lights. I think this gave the photo more of an abstract feel, and highlighted the contrast between the bright lights and night sky. The image quality of the background did, however, suffer a little as a consequence.

This weekend I travelled to Hangzhou (an hour by bullet train outside of Shanghai). The beautiful city is most well known for its West Lake, gorgeous by both day and night.

This gave me the opportunity to try more night shots, though there wasn’t enough light in the sky for my trusty night setting to function properly.


I worked around this by balancing the camera precariously on benches/ walls/ the ground and switching it to a slow shutter speed (the lower the speed, the clearer and brighter the photo is).


Annoyingly, the pagoda above ended up a bit over-exposed, but the shots still look significantly better than they would have done on any other setting.


I used self timer for the photo above; trying to get the leaves in with a shaky hand proved too tricky otherwise.

Night shots: a pain in the ass, but so satisfying when they turn out well!

3 thoughts on “Night photography: tripod-less traumas

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