Vancouver After Dark: City Night Photo Essay

Downtown Vancouver panorama from Stanley Park
The Downtown Vancouver panorama as seen from Stanley Park

Click individual photos to enlarge and enter the Lightbox Gallery.

We are introducing a brand new series of Photo Essays! Take a look at these amazing Photo Sets, which explore the vibe of the city's hidden treasures in addition to it's well known landmarks. In this series, we'll take a look at the peaks of Vancouver through the lens of photographer Kevin Eng!

Granville Island night aerial view
Marina that never sleeps! A beautiful aerial shot of Granville Island

Like many large cities around the world, Vancouver also transforms into a completely different world after the dark falls. The financial district lights up against the background of a starry night and magnificent mountains that surround the city. This is a perfect time to take your camera out and go exploring, that is if you have a tripod at hand! Kevin has visited some great locations around Vancouver to get these shots: Stanley Park for the cityscape panorama, Lions Gate Bridge for the traffic shot, or Granville Island and Steveston harbour.

The Beauty of Night Photography: What are the tricks?

The night photography has different rules to follow than when you're enjoying some shooting during the day. This obviously comes from the fact, that there will be less light and thus you will need much longer shutter speeds at night. Does it explain the many shaky pictures that make you so angry when you download all the great shots last night's walk? Probably! So what needs to be remembered to get stunning images of the night cityscape?

10 Essential Tips for Your Night Photography

  1. Bring a tripod for sharp pictures. If you're really serious about your photography, this should be a part of your normal gear. Especially at night, tripod helps you to get the angle in the shot that you want and saves your camera from your shaky hands. For shots of the night sky, the exposure times are counted in minutes, not seconds! Most people are unable to hold the camera steady for longer than a second (and even that's an achievement). Don't risk your shot! You can try to brace the camera against some solid object or place it on the ground, but then you often don't get too many options for the angle.
  2. Experiment with a flash. If you want to draw attention to a specific object in your photo or lighten up an area that is too dark, using a flash works just great. Dramatic images can be created with several flash lights at once.
  3.  If you don't want to buy a flash, just use your imagination! Any object could supplement it: bike lights, lamps, even your cell phone.
  4. Try wide-angle lenses. Using the 22 mm or 35 mm lenses will give you a completely different result than the standard 55mm lens. You'll see it in the results.
  5.  Experiment with the long time exposures - it's called "light painting". In this photographic technique you create images by moving a light source in your hand or by moving the camera itself. Since the exposure times are so long, you can trace whole words or drawings in the air like this. Sources of your light can be anything: candles, matches, fireworks or glow sticks. Remember, now the tripod really comes into the picture!
  6. Take a shot of the night traffic. Instead of seeing the cars, you'll get beautiful red and white traces of their headlights. Make incredibly dramatic shots! 
  7.  Try using higher aperture numbers (around f/16) with the city lights. It fractures the lights into little stars (but note that this also makes your times much longer).
  8. Finding a spot along a body of water gives you not only some really nice reflections but also brings more light into the frame. This works nicely for the shots of cityscape, harbours or lakes.
  9.  Shoot in Manual mode. This will give you 100% control over the result you will get. You can decide whether you want to get the star trail with long shutter times or freeze your jump on the beach with a flash. 
  10. Don’t touch your camera while shooting with long shutter speeds. With long exposures, even a light touch can cause a blur in the image. This means that even pressing the shutter button is not safe. Use self-timer instead (or remote release if you have one).
Steveston Port panorama
Just a 20-minute drive south of Vancouver lies the port of Steveston
BC Place night shot
Watch the stars just a few steps away from one of the city's landmarks; BC Place.
Marine Drive Vancouver
Marine Drive Vancouver Reflections
Steveston harbour
Steveston Harbour
Dundarave Shore Vancouver
Dundarave Shore: the seawall begins at Ambleside park and gives you a fantastic view of the Lions Gate bridge, especially at night.
Vancouvers Gastown at night
Perfect for night shooting is the busy district of Gastown
New West Skytrain track
The new West Skytrain track
Night at the park
Autumn Night at the Park
South Richmond Chapel in Vancouver
South Richmond Chapel looks like it's been cut out of a novel!
Lions Gate Bridge night shot
Lions Gate Bridge night traffic usi

All visual content is licensed by Creative Commons - you may use individual photos but you need to link them back to this page.

Meet the Photographer

Kevin Eng

 Kevin Eng

Kevin's passion for photography has encouraged others to see the splendor and beauty of nature right at their doorstep, as he captures the sights of the day, and colors and mystery of world while it sleeps. Many of the subjects of his work are based locally in his hometown in Vancouver, B.C, where he first discovered his fascination with night photography. Kevin is a currently working as a music teacher, music director for his church, and landscape photographer.

This entry was posted in Photos. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Vancouver After Dark: City Night Photo Essay

  1. John morsette says:

    Very nice work, if you don’t mind telling, you use wide angel lens? Also ND filters of color? And at night with ND filter.. I mostly shoot what I see but lately night is new to me. Thank you if you reply, and if not continue to do great work.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *