I've been documenting the roadworks on Histon Rd for 18 months so a chance to take some photos of the nighttime tarmacing operation was irresistible even if it was freezing. The main problem was while the road is closed for set times during the night, the actual work depends on the lorries bringing in the tarmac. For the specialist red tarmac used for the cycle lane, it may be travelling up to 200 miles so there was a lot of hanging around in the cold waiting. My hopes for photographing in some wet conditions to have lots of mist and steam rising weren't realised.
Nighttime photography presents challenges. For my first attempt I took the tripod, which was sensible but not very dynamic. While the photos had minimum noise as they were mostly shot at ISO 100-400, the technique was limiting in what I could achieve. A tripod is cumbersome and I was constantly being asked by supervising staff to maintain my distance and I really wanted to get in amongst the work to get that feeling of being the fly-on-the-wall documentary.
These photos were taken handheld at ISO 1000 with the aperture wide open set at f2.8 mostly but going up to f5.6 where a greater dept of focus was required. Low light photography has its challenges, a lot of my equipment has been purchased with that in mind as one of my passions is performance photography. Most modern digital cameras can easily perform at ISO 1000 and a long way above. ISO is your friend, don't be afraid to use it especially with post processing software able to clean up a lot of the noise. I often use wide aperture, especially if I can get in close, so the depth of focus is not too narrow. I have also invested in lenses with built in image stabilisation. I can, with some concentration, take a shot handheld at 1/13th sec. Being able to get so low gives a lot more scope to tweak the other variables. Of course, it will always come down to the type of photo you are taking which will govern how you set up.