There’s a lot of information on night time photography out there – but it usually talks about the camera! Let’s talk about what you’ll need to take with you if you’re shooting at night to keep yourself safe! I’ve made a short list of what I needed recently when taking a time-lapse of Pendennis Castle at night-time on the rocks.
Taking the time-lapse above from the rocks next to an old shoreside castle, I had to be careful not to slip, drop my gear, or fall into a rockpool! It was important you can see exactly what you’re doing! I used a large Asaklitt battery-powered LED camping lamp to guide my way, keeping me safe in the knowledge that I wasn’t about to step into the unknown! It also sat next to me, illuminating my camera – it’s always useful to see your settings, and to check that your tripod is indeed on firm ground (At one point it slipped and I damaged my widest lens! Be careful shooting on wet rocks!)
Of course, be careful where you’re shining it! In the first few frames of images, the castle was lit up from the light where I was looking for a place to sit as I waited! The lamp I have even comes with a remote control attached to the top – useful to leave on the rocks, and check from a safe distance if the tide was creeping dangerously closer to the camera!
This may depend on where you’re shooting, what the conditions are, and how long you plan to stay out – but you should make sure you’re comfortable and warm – whether that means wearing a hat, or packing a fully loaded tent, that’s up to you! In my case, I knew I wasn’t staying out all night, but wanted to be warm and comfortable, so I bought along my trusty sleeping bag and self-inflating roll mat.
Once I arrived on the rocks, I soon realised it was too steep and jagged to set up a roll mat. I didn’t want it to get pierced, so I left it rolled up. I also didn’t think I needed the sleeping bag. I started shooting around midnight and felt just fine, but when I was sat on the cold rocks for half an hour, the chill started getting to me and I was glad I bought it along. I unrolled it and found a place I could safely sit overlooking the camera’s shooting position but away from the ever-nearing tide! The roll mat made a good headrest too!
Not for your camera, but for you!
To get the images above, I prepared the camera and sat on the rocks monitoring it from midnight to almost 3am. I was so glad to have some hot food to keep me going, and to warm me up!
All you need is a tin of beans (or any other food you feel like!) camping stove and something to cook it in, and you’re ready to go! I’ve got a neat little 6 piece stainless steel camping cook set that folds down really small, containing a frying pan, 2 saucepans with lids and another tiny little saucepan – the smallest one was fine for this night, but it’s nice to know you can probably cook a full breakfast in the morning if you’re shooting all night!
Just make sure you either get a tin of food with the pull ring or a multi-tool to open it! And don’t forget cutlery like we did in Dartmoor!
Just because you’re out in the wild all night, you may not be able to relax and enjoy nature as much as if you were on a camping trip! Make sure you have something to keep you occupied, as you’ll likely be sat around waiting a while! If you can get far away from your camera’s subject, you can use your light to read a book, or get some paperwork done! If you’re only out for one night, you’ll likely be able to rely on electronics to keep you busy, but don’t count on getting a mobile signal or charging batteries in the middle of a field, or out by the sea! As an avid video gamer, I took my trusty DS Lite for this trip and finished off my current game of Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. Just make sure the light from any electronics doesn’t mess with your shot!
This time for your gear, not you!
One of the problems with shooting at night is condensation – everything gets covered in it. You can protect your lens with a handy dew heater, but what about everything else?
A dry bag is a must to keep all your gear in! it’ll not only protect your camera equipment but also any sleeping gear, and make sure your cook equipment doesn’t get ruined! Mine is an awesome shade of orange, meaning I can see it no matter how dark it gets! I found that with the lamp inside I even have a nice bright orange light to lead my way! It can be folded down to any size you need and clips together with a very useful handle at the top. Very useful indeed. I’m tempted to use to to cover my camera one day – it’ll keep it protected and that window in the middle will allow me to shoot through it! As you can see in the image above, this is also from the Clas Ohlson Asaklitt range.
Once you have your timelapse of images, you process it like the clip at the top of the post, or like the images below! Happy shooting!
Have we missed anything? What would you take with you? Is there anything you’ve found useful in the past? Let us know in the comments below!