Tips for Shooting Black and White Street Photography at Night

Ever notice how street photography in black and white takes on a different mood at night? Here are some quick tips to help you make the most out of it.

If you’ve only been shooting black and white street photography during the day, there’s actually a lot of dramatic and compelling images you’re missing at night. In a brief video, Vladimir Pcholkin shares his insights on shooting black and white street photography at night, and shares a few simple tips for making the most out of it, should we decide to give it a go.

Street photography in black and white, as with any kind of photography in monochrome, is about paying attention to light and using it to craft our compositions. During the day, there’s plenty of light and lots of opportunities to play with it. At night, however, you’re forced to evaluate scenes and work with light differently. Your shooting opportunities and subjects also change drastically. In his video below, Pcholkin explains how shooting the streets in black and white at night opens the door to more poetic and often dramatic images.

One way to look at it, according to Pcholkin, is to do daytime street photography as a participant of the situation at hand and to do nighttime street photography as an observer. To do this, he prefers to shoot with a different lens during the day and another one during the night. For daytime street photography, he uses a 24mm f2.8 pancake lens (38mm Full Frame equivalent) on his camera. For nighttime street photography, he uses a Sigma Art 18 – 35mm f1.8 zoom lens (29 – 56mm Full Frame equivalent), that provides an extra stop and allows him to shoot everything handheld at ISO 1600 or 3200. The zoom also gives him extra flexibility for his compositions, while the wide aperture gives his photos a soft, cinematic look.

Lastly, Pcholkin prefers and suggests to shoot street scenes in black and white at night because it’s often difficult to balance all the colors in post-production. He finds that street lights can either look greenish or yellowish and not particularly attractive when shooting in color. So, if you would like to simplify your shooting and editing workflow, shooting in black and white is the way to go.

Check out Vladimir Pcholkin’s YouTube channel for more of his travel and photography videos.

Screenshot image from the video