Night Photography Tutorial the Empire State Building

This June 28th was the kickoff of Pride in New York City – and if there was any doubt before where this city’s allegiance in terms of marriage rights lied, NYC lit up their most phallic building with rainbow lights to show support of LGBT rights in the grandest and proudest way possible.

The lighting accompanied a jubilous rally to mark the beginning of NYC Pride, which spanned from the 28th to the 30th, and included an appearance by Lady Gaga along with numerous other performers and speakers on the Hudson River Park’s Pier 26. The Empire State Building lit up the skyline with rainbow glory – which, alongside being a symbol of equality and love for many, also provided a fun photo opportunity for LMS, and presumably many others.

Night photography Urban Architecture

Photo by Sasha Gitin

LearnMyShot.com’s Sasha Gitin was lucky to be in town this Friday within excellent view of the Empire State Building to put his night photography skills into action, exercising and explaining his techniques to get the best shots possible in this tutorial.

The complication of night shots, of course, is getting the right exposure to display the night sky and subject in the sharpest way possible, without being too light or too dark, and with minimal noise. To get this shot, Sasha made sure to stabilize his camera using a tripod to avoid motion blur. (Note: Since 2008, laws have changed and you can use tripods on NYC sidewalks without a permit).

Tech Notes:

  • Use lower ISO, long exposure produces a lot of digital noise the lower the ISO the better
  • Override the light meter (or auto mode) open an exposure 1 to 2 extra stops
  • To get the blue sky shoot during the blue hour. Blue hour starts after sunset and lasts for about an hour or two, or longer depending on geographic location and time of the year.
  • Use Tripod. To be able to shoot at low light and use low ISO tripod is required.
  • Post Production was done in Light Room- Basic Settings tweaked:
  • Contrast +50
      • Highlights -10
      • Shadows +80
      • Whites -40
      • Blacks -40
      • Clarity +30
      • Vibrance +20
      • Saturation 0
Night Photography Empire State Building

Photo by Sasha Gitin

By setting his camera to a lower ISO (100,) shutter speed slowed to (2.5sec), and aperture at f/4), he was able to capture the Empire State Building’s proud colored lights as well as the details of the sky and buildings in the foreground, making for an interesting photo. By composing this shot so that the building was the focus of the photograph, with the angles of the other buildings complementing the center and drawing the viewers eyes toward the building, he achieved a nice result that encompasses the simple beauty of the view without minimizing the political and artistic implications.

Take advantage of warm summer nights and shoot some night shots, and remember not to forget your tripod.
Post your shot below in comments!

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