1. Remember that the darker it gets, the longer exposure you need to shoot (in order to compensate for the lack of light). Hence, the earlier you photograph, the easier and generally more rewarding your images will be. In my opinion, the best time to shoot is during blue hour, the time period after sunset where the sky is reliably blue no matter what the weather was throughout the day.
2. Its crucial you bring a tripod. Tripods are used to steady cameras which is important when your shutter is open for a long period of time. Make sure to use a self-timer, remote control, or cable release to initiate the photograph or the tripod will become pointless (as you'll shake the camera when you click the shutter). Don't worry, you can get a decent tripod for just $25, although more substantial ones are more pricey. Often times when you don't have access to a tripod, you can improvise by finding some form of a brace or steadying material.
3. Understanding manual exposures is key so you can manipulate any problems that arise with auto exposure (because often times the lack of light confuses your metering). I suggest you shoot in RAW mode so you can fix later issues and aperture priority mode to help control depth of field and sharpness.
4. Bracketing or taking various exposures are key to ensuring you get the best images possible. Bracketing is the altering of various camera settings to assure you got the best image possible and give you options on the final photograph. In the case of nighttime photography, ISO, aperture, and exposure would be the ideal settings to experiment with. Also make sure to take multiple shots in case a shot was too blurry or wrongly exposed (make sure to use your photo histogram).
5. Experiment with unnatural lighting. Often times using flashlights or a detached flash unit creates dramatic results. Remember that when your flash is on your camera it can only illuminate a few feet ahead of its base and dilutes the color of elements beyond its range. Also, consider the fact that the degree of movement a exposure captures is based on the exposures length and the speed of the movement.
-Star Trails- When shooting star trails, use a shutter release cable (which gives you the ability to keep your shutter open for hours on end) and keep the shutter open for at least an hour (even though minute movements are visible after a few moments). To make for a more interesting image, I often include illuminated foreground subjects that help draw the eye to the skies.
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