Night photography has always been a challenge. In days of yore, professionals toted computers, high-end cameras, and tripods for a location shoot and used was HDR technology (high dynamic range imaging). After the images were collected, the HDR technology stacked them like a plate of pancakes and perfectly aligned each pixel with the same one above and below it. Then the program would average out the intensity, and ta-da, HDR bliss.

A Guide to Your Lux Life

30,000 Sidewalks lit by direct sun
10,000 Sidewalk in shadow on clear day
300 lux Office lighting
50 lux Average restaurant
20 lux Restaurant with mood lighting
3 lux Sidewalk lit by street lamps
1 lux Nearly too dark to read a newspaper
.1 lux You’ll stumble walking through the house without a flashlight.

With good equipment and the patience to take multiple exposures over a long period of time – seconds, minutes, hours – you could capture scenes and subjects in vivid detail. It wasn’t exactly ready for prime time, but Google’s “Night Sight” app for Android is changing that big time.

The new technology builds on HDR, HDR+, and new technologies, which can literally turn nighttime scenes into daylight – which might make it a handy device for a Santa stakeout, and selfies in the dark. The low-end illumination target for the app was 3 lux to .3 lux. That’s really, really dark. See the chart above for context. What you might find even more attractive are the images you can capture in friendlier lighting conditions.

Resources

Learn more about Night Site technology, see Night Sight: Seeing in the Dark on Pixel on Google’s AI Blog. At the moment, Night Sight is only available for the Android phone on Google Play.