Fujifilm X100V + CineBloom Filters | 6 Night Photography Tips

You don't have to be afraid of the dark. Learn how to photograph dreamy night scenes with Fujifilm Ambassador Reggie Ballesteros.

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1. Use a Minimal Kit

The Fujifilm X100V is my favorite camera right now. As a full-time wedding photographer, it's the perfect piece for when I'm off the clock. I've been using it non-stop, documenting my children at home or while traveling. This camera has inspired me to try out new photography genres — my latest experiment being night photography.

While on a recent family vacation to Disneyland and California Adventure, my wife let me step away from dad duties for an hour to roam around on my own to photograph beautiful night scenes within the parks. I was ready to capture the Disney magic, equipped with the Fujifilm X100V and the Moment CineBloom 20% Diffusion Filter.

I try to keep my kit as simple as possible when exploring and photographing at night. I prefer one camera and one lens, mainly because I don't want to be distracted, fumble with gear, or change lenses at night. The Fujifilm X100V, with its fixed 23mm f/2.0 lens, is the ultimate night photography companion, striking the perfect balance between small size and excellent image quality.

Contrary to belief, you don't need low-light-specific gear to create excellent night photography. Full-frame cameras, high ISO performance, and substantial apertures aren't required. As opposed to low-light wedding photography, where the aim is to freeze passionate moments, the goal of night photography is to capture the mood and aesthetic of the overall scene.

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2. Get Your Settings Right

When shooting with the X100V at night, I open the aperture to let in as much light as possible. On occasion, I will stop down for more depth if the scene calls for it.

My main goal is to avoid unintentional motion blur or camera shake with a low shutter speed. I try to keep the shutter speed at 1/30s or faster. Aside from that, I'm not too concerned with freezing the action of people walking by as I feel the slight subject blur adds dimension to the photo.

While I understand that high ISO noise is unwanted in most photography situations, it's pretty much inevitable with night photography. My approach is to embrace the film-like grain that adds character to the image rather than digital noise. If you can shift your perspective to this, it will make for a better photography experience with less stress.

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3. Dial-In Your Tones In-Camera

One of my favorite things about shooting Fujifilm is the film simulations built into the camera. As the name implies, they simulate the look of classic color and black-and-white films, leveraging the company's deep knowledge of color science and experience in analog photography. Additionally, the X100V has a variety of settings you can tweak so you can personalize the film simulation specific to your photography style.

However, there is one catch: film simulations only apply to JPEGs. So, for RAW shooters, I suggest shooting in JPEG + RAW, as this will allow you to get that film-like experience when shooting but still retain the flexibility to edit in post if the JPEG doesn't suffice.

If you're looking for a film simulation to try, here's my film simulation recipe:

1. Film Simulation: Classic Chrome

2. Grain Effect: Weak, Small

3. Color Chrome Effect: Strong

4. Color Chrome FX Blue: Weak

5. White Balance: Auto

6. White Balance Shift: R:2, B: -4

7. Dynamic Range: Auto

8. Tone Curve: Highlights -1, Shadows -1

9. Color: +2

10. Sharpness: -2

11. Noise Reduction: - 4

12. Clarity: 0

13. Long Exposure NR: On

14. Color Space: sRGB

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4. Find the Light

Without the sun's illumination, this forces you to explore your surroundings in search of external light sources to either brighten your subject, or utilize the light as the subject. Watch for windows, lamps, or the crowd's favorite neon signs.

I tend to light my night photographs in two ways. The first is to use the light as a bright backdrop to contrast with a silhouetted figure; the second is to frame geometric compositions using the lights within the natural architecture to create visual interest.

I find it best to expose the highlights of the lighting in the scene and let the dark areas fall into shadow. This effect minimizes the high ISO grain and creates a moodier vibe. Who doesn't love dark, moody vibes?

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5. Create That Dreamy Effect

Using a CineBloom filter is the cheat code for crafting dreamy night photography. If you're unfamiliar with Moment's CineBloom filter, they screw right onto your lens's filter thread to create a hazy glow around light sources and lit subjects. This combination results in photos with a unique cinematic look straight out of the camera. Combined with the fantastic color science of Fujifilm cameras, this makes for dreamy, magical-looking night vibes.

To get the most potent effect, use the CineBloom 20% Diffusion filter. However, if you prefer the middle-ground product, try the 10% density instead.

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6. Stay Safe!

I wouldn't be a responsible member of the photography community without taking a moment to discuss safety. Photographing at night comes with risks. Immerse yourself in the creative process, but not at the expense of being unaware of your surroundings. Always keep an eye out to avoid theft or harm, and photograph with a friend if you can. If that's not possible, let someone know that you'll be going out to shoot.

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