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March 11, 2020

Dare to Shoot after Dusk, with Night Mode

When darkness descends on a city, people spill out onto the busy streets to bask in the glow of the neon-drenched landscape. Sometimes I wait all day, itching for the chance to capture the memorable aura of life after dark.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no professional photographer. But I still love to play around on my various cameras and phones, and take a lot of pride in what I'm able to capture. I often have friends who express amazement at the pictures I post, and ask me for advice. Since sharing is caring, I thought I'd let some more people in on what I've learned, after years as a photography enthusiast…

Dare to Shoot after Dusk, with Night Mode

Capturing the beauty of night can be a rewarding experience, but it's also an equally daunting challenge. For a start, there's the inevitable motion blur that seems impossible to get rid of, even when you're sure you held the camera completely still (am I right?). Then there's the under-saturated colour and obvious noise, which is that indescribable grainy veil that blankets some images, and wrecks the quality.

But if you're dead set on snapping pictures after dark but don't want to spend a fortune, I'll let you in on a little secret now. The HONOR 9X phone, which uses an AI-supported image stabilization algorithm, helps take fantastic night photos without the need for a tripod.

That's right, all you need to be a great night photographer is a smartphone!

Here's how:

Launch the camera, and swipe to select "Night". Then press the shutter, and a countdown of 2-4 seconds will start, which the phone uses to take and process the image – all you need to do is wait. The AI algorithm has got you covered when it comes to cancelling out slight hand movements, but I've still found it's best to hold the phone as steadily as possible.

Your preview screen should look something like this:

Dare to Shoot after Dusk, with Night Mode

At the start of a 4-second countdown you can barely make out what I'm shooting, no?

Dare to Shoot after Dusk, with Night Mode

A little better, but still largely a mystery.

Dare to Shoot after Dusk, with Night Mode

It's all coming into focus, except that the brighter regions are a bit overexposed.

Dare to Shoot after Dusk, with Night Mode

Almost there!

And here's the finished image:

Dare to Shoot after Dusk, with Night Mode

The process might not be that intriguing for you, but I'm just trying to show you how the "sausage is made".

So yeah, that's it. Press the shutter and wait, then leave the rest to the HONOR 9X.

A few tips for night photography:
1. Avoid stretching your arms out, otherwise you rely on your wrist alone to keep the phone stable. Instead, bend your arms and keep the upper part of each pressed against your side.

2. Avoid shooting directly against street lamps, as this will confuse the camera's light-absorbing system and most likely result in a foggy film across the image (well the pic below is not that bad, because I knew how to work it, but trust me it could be nasty).

Dare to Shoot after Dusk, with Night Mode

3. When taking portraits, it's best to avoid using the flash'. If there isn't much light illuminating your subject, ask them to move closer to you, and stick to half-body shots as opposed to full-body profiles.

If your first attempts are a little disappointing, remember that practice makes perfect. Feel free to whip out your camera and shoot whenever the mood strikes, and you'll learn so much, just by doing!

Dare to Shoot after Dusk, with Night Mode /unitedkingdom