2. Shoot in Manual Mode
Forget the “night scene” mode and your camera’s auto settings; you will be better-off using the manual mode when shooting long exposure night photographs. Using auto settings will leave your photos ugly with some other unwanted properties. The best way to achieve success with long exposures is to have total control of your camera.
3. Maximize Any Available Light
Light is important in photographs, to achieve this with long exposures, you will need to set your camera’s shutter speed to make the best use of any available light. The speed could be 3 seconds or 30 seconds. In some situations, you may need to use bulb (B) mode. You won’t need as long a shutter speed if you are shooting just after sunset or before sunrise. However, in any case, you will need to be able to interpret the available light well and then set your shutter speed accordingly to maximize the light.
4. Make Use of Manual Focus
No need using auto-focus in the dark, trying to do this will give you fits. Instead of wasting your time fiddling with AF, simply switch your camera to manual focus. On the other hand, if your camera comes with “Live View” you will need to use it to achieve precise focus.
5. Keep ISO Settings Very Low
In order to avoid noise in your shot, you will need to start out at your camera’s lowest ISO settings. Since you are using a tripod, you won’t likely need to increase ISO. You can lengthen the exposure time if you need more light.