Instagram – My City at Night


Instagram – My City at Night

I have been living in Berlin for over 20 years now and have only got to know my city at night through Instagram.

I have always been fascinated by beautiful night photographs, but have never found the time to tackle these myself. Only once I had started using Instagram, I was caught up in the excitement of going outside in the evening and having a look around to see what my city has to offer.

At the time I went outside with my iPhone first and had to discover very quickly that the results weren’t really that great.. The iPhone left a kind of noise in the picture and the photos were not very sharp. This meant that I needed a proper camera.

I experimented a lot and practiced a lot. It is not that easy to take a good picture when it is dark. All the lights, the movement, the dark itself – to make all this work together was a huge challenge.

The first picture was taken with a Samsung camera, in ‘night mode’. I was happy with it and delighted with the reflections.

The next attempt had to be even better. I fixed the camera to a tripod and allowed a little more light to enter in and so I had finally captured what I had desired: the movement of the ferris wheel.

I had read a lot at home and watched YouTube to find out how I could improve and produce even sharper photos. I was fascinated by this ‘long exposure’.

Over the next few days I went off exploring with a camera, a tripod and a remote release. I think I must have stood at the motorway bridge for over an hour until I achieved the desired result. The picture was either to light or too dark – you certainly need patience and experience.

Next, I went to one of my favorite haunts in Berlin: – the “Schwangere Auster” [‘pregnant oyster’]. There was no movement here, but it was dark and the lights reflected in the water. I just had to make sure I captured that properly. And there I was again with my camera and the tripod and, once again, I needed more than one attempt until the picture showed the smoothness of the water the way I wanted it.

The “Schwangere Auster” has a lovely shape and the lighting around it is really great. Even at night one could still see beautiful colors.

I can tell you that I definitely needed a long time until I was satisfied. You need to pay attention to exposure time and aperture to achieve an overall good result. If you expose for too long, the picture is too light and if you don’t expose long enough, then picture naturally is too dark.

Another challenge are lights which move very fast, as is the case at the Festival of Lights. The lights and interplay of colors are not visible for long and you, or rather the camera, have to be quick.


I’m sure that I would have never stepped up to this challenge without Instagram, but when I saw these fantastic city photos at night I wanted to try my hand at it as well. You need patience and a camera that lets you set the exposure time manually. Nowadays there are some good apps, e.g. “slowShutter”,  which you can use to set the time or compact cameras that offer ‘night mode’. Just have a go yourself sometime.
You will look at your city in a new light.

Sylvia Matzkowiak

I started taking photos three years ago and cannot get enough of it. I has become a great passion.
I always see the world in colors and would like to see much of it. Therefore I love to travel, and show people what the world looks like through my eyes.


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