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When to Use Night Mode | Maryland Photographers

This is the 3rd in a series of what the different modes do on your camera. If you haven’t read the first two, about Sports mode and Portrait mode, you can go read them now. What I’ll be doing today, though, is explaining how Night mode can get you some really cool shots!

What happens when you put your camera on night mode, is that your camera sets your shutter speed to open for a longer period of time, so that you can get better exposures even while it’s darker than normal. This will give you camera shake if you’re holding your camera, so it’s good if you can put it on a tripod, or brace it against something so your camera is stable.  On normal photos, your shutter will open and close quickly, making sure to stop the action on your photo. With the night mode, instead of opening and closing quickly, it will open, and stay open for longer to let in more light before it closes. This is not a mode you can use for portraits, because unless your subject can hold perfectly still, your subject will be blurry.  This photo below is straight out of the camera, and I was hand holding my camera from a water taxi at night.  I wish I would have had something to brace it on, but, I didn’t so I just took the photo. We were coming straight out from the hotel, which is why this worked. If we had been going parallel to the shore I would have had a very blurry photo.

Gaylord Hotel from Water Taxi at National Harbor at Night
Some cameras have another feature which allows you to use it to take a photo of someone even on night mode. If you can turn on your flash while you have your camera on night mode, you can still get the lights in the background, but the flash will light up your subject in the foreground. My husband and I were on a date last night and we were taking photos of each other with this technic. I generally don’t use any type of direct flash, but, since most point and shoot cameras have that option, I used it to show you what your photos could look like. This image is straight out of the camera [ok, minus a little cropping] but there has been no color editing done.  My husband was using my camera to take this photo.  He was also hand holding the camera [we had no where to brace it], and as you can see, the shoreline is blurry.  If he could have braced it on something, we wouldn’t have gotten that camera shake in the background.

When to Use Night Mode
-At night, once lights are on and you want to get a shot of a city scene or building
-When you see your pictures turning out really blurry and dark on other modes
-When you want to get the lights of the city in the background and someone in the foreground [turn on the flash for this one]

Tip: Make sure you brace your camera against something or you’ll get a blurry background

When NOT to use Night Mode
-During the day. It will make your photos washed out and let in way to much light
-If you have to handhold your camera [your photos will probably turn out blurry]


And, just one more picture because I thought it was cool. 🙂

National Harbor at Night from Water Taxi Gaylord Hotel


  • October 18, 2011 - 11:51 am

    Rachel - Oh Susie, I appreciate the little lessons on the camera it helps me alot. Thanks again for your help.

  • November 7, 2011 - 10:51 am

    Rachel - Susie Hi, I have bought my Rebel T2i camera with the 55-250mm lens. But I have a question, with you doing these mini lessons on here, you are talking about the night mode but you did not put what little figure it is on the dial. Is it the little man with the star?
    Thanks for your help on the camera by the way. Phil has been playing with it and I have not had a chance to sit down and check it out for myself. Hope to soon.

    Thanks again,

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