After Dark: Halloween Shooting

Oct 28, 2022

If you are going out shooting smartphone video this Halloween, then here are some handy tips for shooting great footage in the dark!

Shooting video in low light conditions and after dark on a smartphone is always going to be harder than shooting on a professional camera, so it does help to utilise a few insider tips that will make a big difference to your footage.

Night shooting knowledge means knowing about the aperture. Every smartphone, whatever the make and model, has a pretty small sensor and aperture.

You have probably already noticed that you get lower quality footage when you shoot in the dark!

But, there are some simple adjustments you can make that don’t need you to be a tech genius!

Your Device

Be realistic about what your smartphone can do.

Smartphones do differ as to what they deliver when shooting at night. Apple have been notoriously bad in this area and on older models you may have simply given up, but since the iPhone 11 it has been on their list of improvements.

If you are thinking of upgrading your phone and shooting video at night is a big consideration, then our top 3 suggestions right now would be:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
  • Google Pixel 5
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max

Check Your Settings

Aperture Setting

It’s your aperture setting that’s going to make the difference to getting good shots, so if your smartphone has an option to change it, make sure you choose the widest available. Some smartphones only allow you to change this for stills, not video.

Simple note: When the aperture is wider, more light gets in the lens, and this is what you want!

Night Shoot Setting

Check if your smartphone has an option for night shooting. This option will be called:

  • Night Mode
  • Night Sight
  • Night Setting

Depending on your model, again it may only offer you this for stills, not video. If your smartphone does offer you this option for video, say YES!

Take Control

However helpful your device is, when it comes to shooting at night, don’t let your smartphone pick a setting for you – get an app!

If you install a camera app, it means you are going to have way more control over your smartphone, rather than its inbuilt system deciding what it thinks is best.

Being able to take control is the most important step forward to getting the best looking footage.

Avoid Flickering

When shooting at night you need to know that electric lights flicker at a certain speed.

You may not notice this when you are shooting your video. Clients always ask me why when they play their footage back they then notice the lights flickering.

The trick is to know that this happens and to make sure that you sync your frame rate to the lights if you think it is going to be an issue on your shoot.

In the UK and Europe, we need to set our frame rate to 25fps to avoid this.

In the USA, we need to set our frame rate to 30fps for non flicker success.

Simple when you know how!

If you want to know more about frame rates, click here and see my earlier blog post for some more tips that may help you out.

Get a Portable Light

When light is low the simple solution to our problem is to add more!

When you are out and about shooting trick or treats or at a Halloween party you need something small and easy.

Our top two recommendations for lights that will fit in the palm of your hand are:

These little gems work really well for shooting someone when their face is in shadow.

If you don’t have a light on you, then look around for the nearest available light source, a shop window, a string of fairy lights or better light from under a street lamp. Just move and shoot your subject right there in the better light.


Happy Shooting Everyone

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