Night Photography: Understanding The Color Tinting

If you've ever tried Night photography, you've may have been curious why your night sky turned out completely red or definitely blue. Don't worry, it's not you, it's your exposure (and your equipment).

If there's one thing you need to know by the end of all of this, it's shoot in RAW. No matter what happens, shooting in raw will let you change the white balance of your shot in post edit.

So what happened? Why is the sky red? Simply put, It's the body you're using. All Night photography shots have low histograms, so choosing the right exposure is really important. But no matter what exposure you choose, you'll experience a degree a color tinting.

Provided from

Provided from

This 3d graph shows how the exposure is tinting your photos (you can only see it in the night). Keep in mind the less extraneous light / light pollution, the less of a tint you'll receive. The reason behind the tinting is that digital technology is not perfect, asking your camera to go to extreme ISO can affect image quality. There's such little light, the camera's algorithms may not produce the best result.


Ideally, buy a better camera. The newer the camera, and the better equipped for night photography, the better your shots will be. You'll receive less of a tint with a more advanced sensor (if you compare night shots from a DSLR and an iPhone camera, you'll know what I'm talking about). If you're down for a new camera, I suggest the Nikon D810 or the Sony Alpha a7s For those of you (in the majority of people) who can't buy a $3000 body willy-nilly, here's what you can do with the body you have already:

1. Shoot in RAW and mess with White Balance

It's so important that you shoot in RAW. It lets you change white balance on the computer, and White Balance will really change the color of your sky.  Here's an example of that:


2. Take short exposures and merged them together

One reason why tints occur is because night exposures are normally extreme (long shutter, high ISO, etc.). A technique for avoiding this is taking a bunch of photos with shorter shutters (on a tripod) and merging them in photoshop

3. Location

Tints occur more dramatically when there's some sort of light source like a house or the moon. If you go to the middle of a dessert, or anywhere without light pollution, your photo is gonna tint much less.

Alright that's it. Dont forget to shoot in RAW, happy shooting!