Capture the perfect shot after dark, with our top tips, tools and tricks….

If you’ve read our Picture Perfect series, you’ll know that lighting can be key to nailing the perfect shot – but it’s a different story come nightfall. With the warmer weather you’re more likely to be out late – and naturally you’ll want to take more snaps.

So, if you want to master night photography, but flash just isn’t cutting it, don’t fret – we’ve rounded up some handy tools, apps and tips to help you capture the perfect shot around the clock.

Harness the power of Apps

In the dark about night time photography? Apps are the way to go. These days, taking great nighttime photos is as easy as pressing ‘download’.

Your best bet is an app that simulates the settings of a film or DSLR camera, particularly the long exposure shutter speed (a technique particularly useful when shooting in low light).

For total control, Camera+ 2 (iOS) is a top choice; it gives you control of manual settings for focus and exposure, shutter speed, and your ISO settings. Manual (iOS) or Manual Camera (Google Play) are also fantastic – both let you control how long the shutter on the camera stays open.

After some quality interstellar shots? Sol: Sun Clock has you covered. It tells you when it’s going to be full darkness and even astronomical dusk, so you can plan and schedule night shoots to capture the stars.

Invest in a night-friendly phone

Smartphones are now giving old-school cameras a run for their money. Boasting state-of-the-art lenses, AI and advanced sensor recognition, mobile cameras are getting better with each passing week. And when it comes to night photography, some phones stand out from the crowd. We’d recommend:

Google Pixel 3: It may only have just one lens, but don’t be fooled: the Google Pixel 3 produces top-quality pictures in low light thanks to its fantastic ‘Night Sight’ mode that boosts ambient light in a natural way.

iPhone XS: For Apple fans, the iPhone XS is a great choice, with Smart HDR helping to improve highlights and shadows after dark, to avoid overexposure.

Samsung Galaxy S10: Equipped with three rear sensors and perhaps the best in AI camera software out there, nighttime photography is a breeze with the Galaxy S10. The ‘Super Night Shot’ function shoots, saves, and combines up to 17 shots in one for the perfect exposure.

Get the right gear

If you don’t want to splash out on a night photography-friendly phone, don’t stress – there are plenty of great gadgets that’ll do the trick.

When it comes to using your mobile camera at night, you just need a very steady hand and a quality lens – or the right accessories. While there are great apps that can help reduce shakiness, such as Google Photos, nothing is quite as steady as a tripod. We’d suggest investing in a quality mobile tripod or a portable alternative like the Shoulderpod S1 Professional Smartphone Rig to help prevent motion blur.

Want more attachments? Our top-picks are the compact LUMIMUSE 3 LED Light and lightweight, QIAYA Selfie Ring Light – this portable accessory comes with three brightness modes plus 30 LED lights, so the perfect selfie is in the bag.

Back to basics

The flash might be the most basic mobile camera feature, but when used correctly it can produce some awesome nighttime shots – you just need to get creative. For instance, you can soften your phone’s flash light by placing tissue or paper over the lens to create moody silhouette portraits, or add some major drama (and detail) through extreme ‘flash-on’ close-ups.

When all else fails, edit

One of the biggest perks of smartphones is that they’re an all-in-one device – everything is at your fingertips, including some excellent editing apps. If fiddling around with your phone’s native camera app to adjust brightness and contrast isn’t cutting it, then you might want to consider downloading VSCO or Lightroom. Both apps will give you more choice and greater control when it comes to photo editing tools.

If you’re after a DLSR-worthy finish then we’d suggest TADAA. It comes with professional editing tools and hundreds of live-filters that can mask even the lowest lighting.

Oh, and if you’ve downloaded the aforementioned Camera+ 2 app you’ll find that editing those pesky – and perhaps slightly dusky – night photos is a piece of cake – the app saves photos in the RAW file format, giving you maximum quality for photo editing later.

Night time photography sorted? Now you can focus on your composition with these top tips: