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Need to Shoot at Night? Three Essential Pieces of Lighting Gear

I just returned from a nighttime photography trip (Ron Risman’s Timelapse Workshop). The goal was to shoot the night sky… over and over again. With a group of several photographers, the amount of light pollution can get pretty high. Flashlights, camera LEDs, cell phones and more. Every light source can get in the way of a great image. Here are three essentials that are now permanently in my big bag.

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Night Vision Flashlight

After a while of shooting in the dark, your eyes actually start to get used to the light. This is important if you want to move around and find things or frame up a new shot. Of course you may still find it hard to find a piece of gear in your bag (or want to verify that that short step down isn’t the edge of a cliff). This is where a night vision flashlight comes in. By using a red LED, your night vision won’t be affected. I really like the Celestron 93588 Astro Night Vision Flashlight as its both affordable and includes a dial to adjust intensity. This one uses two red LEDs which can preserve night vision better than red filters. It also minimizes that chance of a red filter falling off. I’ve picked up one of these for each of my camera bags and find it a great addition to the toolkit.

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Gaffer’s Tape

This one’s a production standard… but I found myself wishing I had more. Every single light on a camera gets in the way of a good nighttime shot. Those LEDs create spill… nothing like a red or green cast in your pictures (or more likely other photographers). You want a clean frame with no spill.

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Get some Cloth Gaffer’s Tape. A nice trick is to make a mini roll by wrapping it around a pill bottle. You can then easily tape over any LCDs and even the viewfinder. The tape is super easy to remove and makes it much easier to get the shot.

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Portable Lights

When shooting night you may want to light up some of the elements in the scene. Perhaps its a subtle effects to just bring the foreground out or even a dramatic effect to influence the mood.

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I really like the OxyLED Q6 lights. Each light can be set to four levels of brightness. They offer a decent CRI (color rendering index) of at least 70… while not good for color critical lighting… they work well for this use. The built-in rechargeable batteries can be topped off using a USB cable or any portable USB power source. They are a solid construction and rated for 36,000 hours of use.

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Be sure to also pick up a pack of Gel Filters so you can both further dim and tint the light source. There are many options on the market that are reasonable. I recommend a pack with multiple sheets of the same color so you can combine multiple sheets to dim the intensity of the lights further when needed.

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