Quick Tip: For Night Photography, Carry a Flashlight!

My AA Maglite is a great shooting accessory for dark and near-dark photography. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

My AA Maglite is a great shooting accessory for dark and near-dark photography. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

A SIMPLE TOOL

I do a fair amount of photography in the dark: either actually at night, or more commonly, right before dawn or after dusk. As the darkening gloom is settling in around you or you’re waiting on the coming dawn, it’s always smart to remember to carry a flashlight.

I keep a small AA Maglite in the driver’s door of my car and stick it in my pocket when grabbing my gear for one of these sessions. As well as I think I know my camera equipment—and I can change lenses in the dark—it’s still a great idea to have that additional light source.

Sometimes it’s simply to help when fumbling to plug in a cable release, which on my current cameras, involves a plug that has to be lined up properly. It’s also really helpful when you want to check focus on something not too far away in the dark. I’ll simply shine the tightly-focused Maglite on the object and use that as a focus point.

Hooking up a cable release for long exposures is much easier when you can see what you're doing. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

Hooking up a cable release for long exposures is much easier when you can see what you're doing. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

Infinity focus on one of my current lenses is also not the the furthest-racked position of the lens barrel. It’s a bit back from that, and I know where it is, if I can see it. I’ll take the light and position it properly at that point before setting up the rest of my exposure.

So remember: for the photography in the dark and near-dark, bring that flashlight with you!

Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog

Posted in: How To

About the Author:

Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

3 Comments on "Quick Tip: For Night Photography, Carry a Flashlight!"

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  1. I, too, take night shots and needed something to do exactly as you describe. I tried using a MagLite Mini but it was too bright and I found I lost my night vision which wasted time as it returned.

    What I did in the end was invest in a Petzl Tikka headlamp with a red filter. It keeps both hands free for doing “stuff” and, because it’s red, doesn’t ruin your night vision. Worth trying with a red filter taped over the mag lite (or a red candy wrapper for the CheapShots amongst you) but the headlamp is the business.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Paul. I’ve used a headlamp but found that I usually break the things, or can’t find the batteries, or the dog chewed up the headband, etc. So the Maglite works for me because it’s simple, and sturdy. But I like your red filter idea, that’s great!

  3. I wish I have read this a bit earlier. I almost fumbled my open camera bag onto concrete.. Thankfully I grapped it just in time. I’ll certainly remember to get myself a flashlight very soon for my bag.

    I’ve seen other people using one of the small bike lamps in red for it. Guess that could work without finding/creating some kind of filter for it.

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