When taking pictures at night in the dark streets, wouldn’t it be better to keep the pictures as real as possible? With the advanced digital cameras, it is easy to expose pictures brightly in any given lighting condition. This is because the cameras are equipped with built-in light meters, processing programs, histograms and high ISO capabilities that have the ability to brighten the image effortlessly.


When you shoot at aperture, shutter or automatic modes, your camera’s light meter tends to read and focus the brightest spot. This makes the scene overly dark with many bright highlights or overly bright with dark tones. Along the way, the details in the scene are lost, making the image brighter than it actually is. Thereby, it eliminates the natural darkness required to convey the mood and ambiance of the scene.


To get a dark image that reflects the darkness in the scene, follow any one of the two suggestions below…

* You can achieve this on shutter or aperture priority, by lowering your exposure compensation say by -1 stop and then tweak it according to the requirement of the situation or scene.

* You can override the camera’s light meter completely by switching to manual mode. This will give you complete control to manage the f-stops, shutter speed and ISO. This approach will help you capture the darkness with details that can set the mood of the scene. This will pave the way for an all-natural look and feel.


When you are taking a picture at night, it is normal for any photographer to think of taking bright and clear shots. First off the bat, you must believe that there is nothing wrong in taking dark visuals. It is fine to make an image appear like it was taken at night. There is nothing wrong in making the viewer realize that it was tough to see what was happening. The curiosity will draw the viewer closer to the image and make him wonder about the actual scene.


When you look at some of the old photography books, your immediate thought would be that it might have looked better if it was brighter. But gradually, you realize how naturally you are drawn to those dark images and start enjoying the moody yet candid image.


But before you start exploring the low light path, know the advantages and purpose of taking dark images. Some reasons for the dark scenes are:

  1. They feel more realistic
  2. Allow you to experience the scene again
  3. Give an accurate and authentic account of the scene
  4. Allow you to sense the silence and stillness in the situation
  5. Create a beautiful background with dark shadows and moody lighting
  6. They draw you in, so you can explore the details
  7. Dark images offer something of artistic value. You could use them for different kinds of photo exhibitions. One could be just on silhouettes; another could be on low light HDR photography… the possibilities are endless.
  8. Importantly, if you are looking at projecting a serious image of yourself as a pro committed to the photographic cause, dark images could set you up with the best in the business. But, of course, you need to fine-tune your art form to come up trumps. But this is as good a start as any.


In photography, the devil is in the details. Dark images have the tendency to create a sense of suspense in the viewer and keep them glued. The next time you are shooting at night in a dark place, make sure you keep these points in mind. Don’t be afraid to make your picture a tad darker. It’s fine to keep them real.

~ Zahid Haroon Javali / Pics: Pixabay