You meet a new set of challenges when photographing at night. The rules or guidelines you follow during the day aren’t necessarily the correct choices when the sun goes down and darkness sets in. It’s not uncommon for someone who’s new to nighttime photography to end up with a bunch of black images (don’t worry, we’ve all been there!)
Let’s get straight to it and look at the fundamentals of Night Photography:
Manual, Manual, Manual
Although I always recommend using manual mode when photographing landscapes, using a semi-automatic mode such as Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority can be acceptable but that isn’t the case with night photography. When photographing in the dark, you can’t rely on either a semi-automatic or an automatic mode; you must go manual.
The reason for this is that your camera is struggling to see in the dark and it won’t be able to give you the optimal settings. Conditionally, the settings become extra important in night photography and mistakes become even more visible than during daytime shots.
Note: I strongly recommend reading our Fundamentals to Landscape Photography series if you aren’t comfortable with manual mode yet.