I am a newbie amateur photographer. I enjoy walking at night in a wood and take pictures.

It is not hard with a modern digital camera (I have a Nikon d3100) to show whatever is needed by taking sufficiently long exposure, even when in context of extreme darkness.

What I struggle with is capture the scenes in a way similar to what I experience (and would like to show).

In particular, I would like to portray that sort of "fogginess" that low light situation causes, where many details are visible and slowly recede in the darkness. It seems that my photo either come out as underexposed (way too dark) or overexposed (losing this fogginess I experience with my eyes).

What is the particular characteristic of the human eyes that allows me to see so much in the dark... and yet so little? And how to replicate it or what are some suggestions for nocturnal, extreme low light photographs? Any suggestion is welcome: equipment, techniques, editing.

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    \$\begingroup\$ can you go to Google images / Flickr and find some example images? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 14, 2017 at 16:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Keep in mind that the camera doesn't work like your eye in the dark. Your eye converts to using scotopic vision in low light rather than the photopic vision it uses under good lighting. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 16, 2017 at 3:42

1 Answer 1


It sounds like your problem is that the scenes you are trying to capture are evenly lit with ambient light - so objects near and far are affected by your exposure changes to the same degree.

To make close objects expose "correctly" and distant objects fade to black (foggy is going to be tricky and would likely be easier to add in post) I think you are going to need to experiment with an additional light source near the camera that will allow the light level of your scene to drop off for objects further from the camera (inverse square law).

The "look" you are trying to get will dictate which light sources to try, but could range from the glow of a phone screen, through shaded torches (electric or fire), naked torches, camp fires to single or multiple flashes.

You could also experiment with (a tripod and) holding the shutter open (bulb) and "painting" in foreground details by firing an off-camera flash multiple times (google "light painting landscape" for examples).


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