The Redondo Pier at Night
This photo is a great example of how to shoot HDR photography at night. Really it’s not any different. The lights can be bright so just make sure you expose for them on your bracket exposed to the left. Then on a shot like this, you’ll want to pull out as much detail in the sky and under the pier so make sure to expose to the right enough to get that. I usually shoot my HDR bracketed shots two stops apart from each other. I would do more but my camera won’t let me.
Your longest exposure might be about 30 seconds. If you need longer you’ll need a shutter release timer and you’ll have to shoot on Bulb mode and count manually as your shutter is held down. I’ve done this before and it’s not fun. Shots start taking forever to complete.
You’ll get a lot of hot spots on your sensor once you start exposing longer than 30 seconds. Cameras have built-in ways to reduce this but it requires taking the same photo for the same duration twice. Which means now your minute or two exposure becomes two to four minutes. In an HDR sequence, you’re doing it to three shots.
The main thing is focusing on your location. There is no reason to shoot HDR at night if your scene doesn’t have a very high dynamic range. I like to shoot about 30 minutes before it’s completely dark so I can still pull the color out of the sky.
Update: This was an older photo of mine, with very old techniques and I will say, technology has improved dramatically over the years both with cameras and software. If you want to learn more about night photography, Pixpa just posted a really cool in-depth guide to night photography using all the latest tips and tricks. Check it out at Pixpa’s website.
This beach photo was shot on the Samyang 14mm f2.8 but I cropped in like a madman. Just pretend I shot it on a very cropped 8MP camera.