Independent Workshop

Shanghai by Night II (Handheld)

On my way to the Class, inside a Taxi on Xiang Yang nan lu (Shanghai). Nikon1 V1 ISO200 1/30s and Cine Nikkor 25mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4

On my way to the Class, inside a Taxi on Xiang Yang nan lu (Shanghai). Nikon1 V1 ISO200 1/30s and Cine Nikkor 25mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4

This is another Night shooting session in Shanghai, with 6 of my students in the same area as the previous Night Walk. However, each time, it is a different experience due to the personality of the participant, the mood of the moment and the direction we are taking. Another great session with great people.
By Franc Peret

Last but not least, I am often changing my gear.
This time, instead of the Nikon D750 I used for previous session, I picked my 2 smallest cameras: The Nikon 1 V1 (1 inch sensor) and my Panasonic GM5.

The participant to the class: Nathalie, Vivian, Veronique, Rebecca, Alex and Priscilla. Nikon1 V1 ISO200 1/15s and Cine Nikkor 25mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4.

I fixed a Cine Nikkor 25mm f/1.4 (full metal and full manual) on the Nikon and a Lumix 20mm f/1.7 on the GM5.

Getting the phone hanging in space was a way to capture the interesting metallic link holding it in front of the breaking cars in the background. Nikon1 V1 ISO200 1/30s and Cine Nikkor 25mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4.


The big advantage of this type of camera (smaller sensors with great lenses) at night is to provide much more depth of field even at maximum Aperture (f/1.4 and f/1.7 in that case).

Vivian working to achieve the same effect while struggling to keep her balance. Photography is a physical activity. Nikon1 V1 ISO200 1/8s and Cine Nikkor 25mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4.

Full frame camera are offering less noise, but to get enough things in focus, you can rarely use your lens fully open and being forced to close down the Aperture sometime, you need to increase the ISO to compensate.

To summarize, I would say that Full Frame camera at night are best used with subject at a longer distance, while cropped sensors works very well on close-up shots.
Somehow, APS-C (or DX) Sensors offer a great balance between the 2 options.


Alex collecting light on his face from Sony Showroom display. Nikon1 V1 ISO200 1/50s and Cine Nikkor 25mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4.

Here are some of shots I achieved that Night while walking in the heart of Shanghai, teaching to my students how to find a subject, compose their frame, set the camera according lighting condition and being as stable as possible to not need to increase the ISO.

Alex’s camera at rest. Nikon1 V1 ISO200 1/8s and Cine Nikkor 25mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4.

This is an easy task to achieve in Shanghai, as source of lights are coming from everywhere and our only duty is to fill up the frame with colors, reflective surfaces and bright spots.

Lonely Tour Eiffel in a store. Light source direction are unusual at night bringing some magic to anything. Panasonic GM5 ISO100 1/160s and 20mm f/1.7 @ f/2.5
All black, white and red. Waiting to cross the street.Panasonic GM5 ISO200 1/6s and 20mm f/1.7 @ f/2

Most importantly, is to not try to reproduce the kind of shots you usually do daytime.
It would be meaningless as nighttime is offering such a different look and challenge.

Yellow Bike build to last according the Brand name: “Yong jiou” (Use Longtime). Nikon1 V1 ISO100 1/6s and Cine Nikkor 25mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4
No smoking. In the taxi bringing me to the meeting point. Nikon1 V1 ISO200 1/25s and Cine Nikkor 25mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4.

Best to be stable is to find something solid to hold your back, your shoulder or even your camera from the position you want to build up your composition.

Luminous landscape. Panasonic GM5 ISO200 1/15s and 20mm f/1.7 @ f/2.
Nathalie framing a fire hydrant against the bright city landscape. Nikon1 V1 ISO200 1/15s and Cine Nikkor 25mm f/1.4 @ f/1.4

I usually advice wall, handrail, tree or ground.
Unfortunately, you are not always finding a friendly support for every subject.

Alex in a corner for a great color match. Panasonic GM5 ISO100 1/50s and 20mm f/1.7 @ f/2

In that case, the way you are positioning your body and holding your camera are going to matter even more to not get a blurry shot at low shutter speed.


One of my favorite night shooting subject in such a developing city is background or details that could be used for the shooting of a 1950’s science fiction movie.

Science Fiction background 1. Panasonic GM5 ISO200 1/2s and 20mm f/1.7 @ f/2.2

I am not sure you are going to understand this sentence, but lets check out the surrounding shots to get an idea of my feeling and inspiration.

Another inspiring Sci Fi background.Panasonic GM5 ISO200 1/10s and 20mm f/1.7 @ f/2
A Science fiction set coming from the past. Panasonic GM5 ISO400 1/5s and 20mm f/1.7 @ f/1.8

In this kind of set or with those type of details I can imagine parts of an abandoned space ship or high tech factory.
Sometime people are telling me that I am having too much imagination…

Space Station. Panasonic GM5 ISO200 1/2s and 12mm f/1.6 @ f/4

I am very clear about that.
Imagination will be NEVER too much.

Back to reality (almost). Panasonic GM5 ISO200 1/25s and 20mm f/1.7 @ f/2

For me, imagination is the only way to never get bored of something I am doing since 1986: professional photography.

An individual space ship? Panasonic GM5 ISO400 1/10s and 20mm f/1.7 @ f/2

And after 15 years shooting film, digital photography helped me to cross all my previous boundaries, and Photoshop, Video, film making, editing are added value to the experience.
And as I often say to my students, I am learning something new about photography and film making, almost everyday.
It is an endless process.
My life will never be long enough to learn as much as I would like to…

If you liked this post, you can discover the previous night shooting session in Shanghai Here

Former photo journalist, Film maker and ELC Shanghai Photography teacher, Franc Peret is teaching Essential Photography Classes, Advanced Photography Workshop and Film Making Classes in Shanghai, for the last 11 years.
If you wish to contact Franc, just drop an email to