Take your best ever photos at night on your phone

5 tips for better night photos with iPhone 12, Galaxy S21 or other phone cameras


Andrew Hoyle / ClearTips

Taking photos at night was something that required a good DSLR, using tripods and long exposures to get a good, bright image. But like the arrival of night mode on recent phones iPhone 12 Pro Max, To Samsung galaxy s21 ultraAnother and a wide variety of others means that it is possible to take crystal-clear photos, even in the depths of night.

You can see how well the 12 Pro Max stacks up against the S21 Ultra and Google Pixel 5 in Our recent night mode shootout.

But getting a great image that you’re proud of is not just a matter of waiting in the dark and getting out your phone – you’ll still need to do some work to take shots that will rack up those Instagram likes. .

Here are my top tips on how to get great pictures at night on your phone.

1. Learn how to activate night mode

If your phone has a night mode, it is important to make sure that it is actually activated before starting shooting. On phones like the iPhone 12 series, night mode will automatically kick in when the phone detects that you are in low-light conditions. On some Android phones such as Samsung galaxy s20 ultra You can get a specific shooting mode that you have to use to capture the best low-light pictures.

Different phones may have different options, so if you’re unsure how to use them – or if your phone also has one – then a quick search of the model and “night mode” should answer your questions. .


The photos on this night have been made all the more vibrant and dazzled by these incredible Christmas lights illuminating the columns.

Andrew Hoyle / ClearTips

2. Search for light

While phones like the new iPhone ($ 599 at Apple) And recent Galaxy phones can take amazing low light images, you should still have some Light in the shot to create an attractive image. So going to the darkest part of the forest may not yield good results. Instead, try to visit populated areas such as city centers (taking all necessary precautions against COVID-19) because you will find street lamps, shop window displays and perhaps some festive lighting as a light source during the holidays. Will meet.

3. Wait for your moment

Great city and street photography can often include a person as a subject in their shot and nighttime can be a terrible time to take those shots. When the light is limited, you need to make sure that the person is exactly where you want them and this may involve some patience.


I am really pleased with both of these night-pictures and both of them rely heavily on time – on the left it was about getting that lone figure while walking in the main pool of light on the ground. On the right it was about capturing the past of cycling.

Andrew Hoyle / ClearTips

For example, imagine you are taking a shot on a street in a street lit by street lamps. Each lamp casts a pool of light, and as one walks through it, they will be temporarily lit before being effectively invisible again in the dark. In that example, my advice is to be ready for your shot, with your finger hovering over that shutter button. It may take a few minutes, but eventually someone can walk properly through that pool of light and you can take your shot. This way patience can really pay off.

4. stabilize yourself

Even though the phone does not require long exposure on a DSLR in night mode, you will get your best result if you keep the phone as close as possible while taking your image. If you don’t have a tripod, you can see a low wall, a dustbin or anything, when you get your shot, you can freeze your phone.

If there is nothing nearby, you can help keep the phone steady by holding it firmly in both hands, holding it very close to your chest and lifting your elbows towards your abdomen. This will help reduce some of the natural wavering in your hands and can make the difference in getting a sharper image.


I love a black and white edit of night photos. I find that the natural contrast of bright street lights in shady backgrounds translates so well to a monochrome image.

Andrew Hoyle / ClearTips

5. Edit Your Shots

As with any good photo, taking a shot is only half the story; This is how you edit it which can be the greatest way to turn it into a real piece of art. I use Adobe Lightroom Mobile for most of my editing but Google’s Snapshot is really powerful as well as completely free on iOS and Android.

By their nature, night photos may well darken, so it is possible that you want to start by taking a risk. Be careful though; Low light images, even good night mode shots, will have image noise (a fuzzy grain) that will deteriorate and the more you brighten the image the worse it will get. You may need to reduce some highlights (especially if you have captured bright streetlights) and give the shadows a touch boost to balance things out. Pay attention to the details and make sure you are not taking it too far.

Since then, it’s completely down to what makes you feel good, so spend some time playing around with the available tools and see what you can do. I personally think the night scenes can often look great as black and white pictures, as the bright lights and the natural contrast of the dark background lend themselves well to a monochrome conversion.

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