Intentionally shooting at night was something that I've never really done. Living in the fairly small city of Chilliwack, I figured there really wasn't much for interesting things kicking around that would make for good photos. My buddy Heath wanted to kill a Saturday night shooting a timelapse downtown, so I thought I'd tag along and stand awkwardly around our tripods.
I brought along my main body (Pentax K5) and most of my lenses, but I ended up using my Pentax SMC FA 50mm 1.4 the most, mainly for the low-light capability (obviously). I forced myself to try and shoot at different apertures throughout the night and break out of the habit of just always shooting close to wide-open with my 50.
After getting what we needed for the timelapse, we moved on to the mall parking lot where the amusement park was starting to wind down. The only really photogenic ride that was still there was a sketchy spinning octopus. We grabbed our gear and creeped around the perimeter looking for an interesting angle, hoping the security wouldn't raise any eyebrows at 2 grown men with cameras sneaking around the property.
Not knowing anything about how to achieve decent night photos, I just started shooting at bits of the rides with different settings, some handheld and some on my tripod. It was definitely trial-by-error to get the exposure I wanted, but it quickly became easier to correlate the light meter on my camera to the amount of light I wanted in the frame. It was also important to be unafraid to completely underexpose the shadows and use the heavy contrast to compliment the thin range of light available.
At the end of it, I returned with some decent photos and a couple of checkmarks off my photo list: long-exposure-spinny-ride-photo and sharp-starbursty-city-lights-with-passing-car-photo. I also have a near-useless timelapse of downtown Chilliwack that didn't do much more than add 400 actuations to my shutter, but at least I had fun doing it.