Paula Chan

Designer, Photographer, Baker, Rock Climber!



PUBLISHED! iPhone Street Photography - Night: How to take amazing iPhone photos at night and in low light


Update 03-30-17

Almost done! Took me all day just to edit the longest lesson! Gaah!

One more lesson and the conclusion to edit and upload! Yeah!

Update 03-29-17

Half my classes edited and uploaded!


Update 03-28-17

All audio recorded. Will continue to add this audio to visual screencasts and upload lessons!


Update 03-26-17

Three lessons finished and uploaded! Woohoo! Scripts written for all lessons. Some still need to be recorded.


Update: 03-25-17

Finally finished finessing my Intro video and uploaded it. See intro video here.

Organized all my final files last week and recorded some audio for the class segments. Will finish recording all audio this weekend and begin editing and uploading lessons.




Talking head

2 min

This class is for anyone, especially beginners. I will show you how to use your iPhone to take photos at night and in low light. We will go over the basics, such as composition, lighting and subject matter, and delve into specifics for Night Photography, such as controlling exposure, using light as subject, silhouetting, how to photograph neon, editing and training your eye to recognize night photo ops.

I will NOT be diving into the many iPhone editing apps available, but will demonstrate basic editing with the native filters and tools in Instagram.

Day vs. Night

Screencast and slides, talking head

xx min

I love working in San Francisco. Working in SF provides all kinds of photo ops day and night. As you will see in the next few examples, there is a stark contrast in the quality and feel of the images, even though it is the same location. (Examples) Federal Reserve colonnade, US Bank building.

Nighttime Drama

Screencast and slides, talking head

xx min

Night time brings a different energy, and some things that are hidden during the day are revealed at night. Windows where you can only see your reflection during the day become transparent at night, revealing another world, adding a voyeuristic aspect. (Examples) TicTacToe, Autodesk.

Lighting at night becomes high drama (Examples) flower stand, construction site.

Even though I am using an iPhone, I only use existing light. I never use my flash. This means you need steady hands and to learn how to hold your iPhone as still as possible. Take a breath in and hold it while you carefully take the shot.

Subject Matter, Composition, cropping, zoom in/get close, silhouettes

Screencast and slides, talking head

xx min 

The streets come alive at night with the unexpected (Examples) end street mural (?), sax player, piano player.

Very often, light itself becomes the subject (Examples) Jewish Museum,  SFMoma, Chinese lanterns.

Nighttime is a great time to shoot silhouettes. Also, zoom in to focus on your subject. (Examples) Girl in front of waterfall at Yerba Buena Park, homeless man.

Multiple Shots/angles

Screencast and slides, talking head

xx min 

Don’t be afraid to take multiple shots of the same subject. (Examples) SF Examiner corner, Muni train. Street scenes can change fast, so be ready and take several shots to choose from later. With the Metro train, I was trying to find the best angle to shoot motion blur and action, accentuated by the train lights.


Screencast and slides, talking head

xx min 

Photographing neon is tricky.If you point the iPhone at a neon sign and take the shot, it will be way blown out and show up as a blur of light. You need to use your exposure slider to offset this and choose how you would like the sign to appear. You can adjust the exposure so only the sign shows up sharply on a black background, or lighten it up so there is more of a "glow factor" and some hint of the background. Demo using exposure slider. (Examples) “Open” sign, beer signs.

Editing, IG post

Recorded demo screencast and slides, talking head

xx min 

Live screen capture of editing in Instagram. The human eye is far more sensitive than any camera or film will ever be. I prefer to do minimal editing and filter use, and try to ”bring the photo up to the level I think my eye actually saw.” For this demonstration, I am only using the native tools and filters in Instagram so beginners have a place to start. However, I encourage you to play around with all the apps, filters and tools available to develop your own style.


Screencast and slides, talking head

1 min

Now it’s YOUR turn! Your assignment is to post four of your shots showing the lessons I presented: Day vs. Night same scene, Cropping/moving in close to your subject, Dramatic lighting or neon, Shot series or experiments. 

Have fun, try any kind of shot. It’s okay if it’s not perfect. I would love to see the different versions you tried. The more you shoot, the more your eye will become trained to see special photo ops presented by night time and low light conditions.

I can’t wait to see your photos!

If you liked this class, please share with your friends.

Class Project 

Now it’s YOUR turn! Your assignment is to post at least four of your shots showing the lessons I presented. You can do ALL of the topics if you wish! I would love to see you do as many as possible.

I encourage you to experiment and try a lot of different methods and subject matter, all taken at night or in low light.

  1. Day vs. Night same scene
  2. Drama
  3. Light as subject
  4. Unexpected
  5. Cropping/moving in close to your subject
  6. Multiple shots and angles
  7. Neon
  8. Silhouettes
  9. Experimentation

I can’t wait to see your photos!

Follow me on Instagram @paulaink166 

If you liked this class, please share with your friends: (link)


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