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How to take Night Mode and Low Light Photoraphs [Video Tutorial]

13th December 2020

Jacob Woolcock



In this short tutorial I’ll show you how to use the Night Mode feature in the Camera App on iPhones 11 and 12 to shoot great photographs in darkness. I’ll talk you through how this feature works as well as sharing some simple tips to make the most of (and get the best results from!) your night time photography.

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Night mode photography is a great feature in modern devices. Let’s have a look at how it works on the iPhone. And while you’re here, if you find this tip helpful, please do subscribe down below. There are loads more videos for your iPhone and your iPad just waiting for you on my channel.

Night mode essentially works by keeping the camera’s shutter open for longer to let more light in. That means a picture that would normally come out really dark can actually become a lot brighter. Here are some examples using night mode: off, a 3-second exposure, a 10-second exposure, and a 30-second exposure. You can see just the difference night mode can make.

So here’s how it works, at its most basic level. In the top left of the camera app is a little yellow moon icon. When it gets dark and night mode becomes a possibility, the moon will light up yellow. That means it’s automatically enabled, and when you press the shutter button, you’ll get, on average, a two or three-second exposure without having to do anything at all. Along the bottom, you can see that progress bar moving, and when it gets to the end, your photograph will be captured.

Now, when you tap on that moon icon, you get the night mode controls at the bottom of your screen. You can log that slider one way or the other to either increase the exposure length or to turn it off completely. If I turn it off, this is a photograph that I would get in that same scene without moving the camera. You’ll notice, obviously, it’s a lot darker because, well, it’s night-time. If I move that slider the other way for a maximum exposure of 10 seconds, the picture will be brighter again because more light is being let in. But you need to hold your phone really still for this to work. Don’t worry if you do move, though, because you’ll get a little crosshair on the screen, and as long as you line it back up again, the iPhone camera will calculate what’s happening, and your picture won’t come out blurry.

The last thing you can do to really improve your night mode photography is to use a tripod. Now, when the iPhone is static in a tripod, the camera will work that out, and it will give you a far greater length of exposure times. For example, I can now do a 30-second exposure on this picture. Now, yes, I’m annoyed with myself for not lining the phone up straight, but hey, it was cold, and it was dark. But I’m now getting a 30-second exposure of that scene, and you’ll see just how bright and colourful that picture is.

Comparing all four photographs, it’s really striking how effective night mode is in bringing in more light and more colour into your dark photography. One final tip is to try and avoid taking a photograph where you’ve got a single bright light source in amongst the darkness, because that will quickly become overexposed on a long exposure. This works best when you’ve got an equal level of lighting across your whole scene, no matter how dark it is, because then the camera can balance the lighting perfectly.

Have a go at night mode photography, try changing the length of your exposures, and see what great results you can get.

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