It’s been hard to ignore the growth of night mode photography in the last couple of years. When Google first debuted the software through its Pixel phones it felt futuristic, but more and more phones now have systems to get jaw-dropping results in low light.
Apple’s is right up with the very best, though, with its top iPhones able to get simply amazing results, and to that end it’s just announced the winners of its iPhone night mode challenge. These six images are really quite incredible, and do an amazing job of showing just what you can do with an iPhone camera nowadays.
Rubén P. Bescós (Pamplona, Navarra, Spain), iPhone 11 Pro Max
This shot from Spain is so evocative, with Night Mode bringing out the detail in the hill close to us, while silhouetting the walkers on the verge at sunset. Those scaffolded frames in the background are mysterious and draw the eye, but the collection of animals in the centre are also beautifully captured, almost looking like drawings of themselves. Meanwhile, the overall palette is obviously dominated by that impressive, warm orange in a way that makes the whole tableau feel welcoming.
Rustam Shagimordanov (Moscow, Russia), iPhone 11
This shot looks fit for any tourism brochure, so idyllic does it make this riverside set of dwellings look. The light of the buildings, and their beautiful red colouring, makes for an interesting contrast between what looks like a lovely place to live and what is plainly a freezing, harsh environment in many ways. Meanwhile, in the background, that looming rock places the village in the context of an awesome demonstration of nature’s true scale.
Andrei Manuilov (Moscow, Russia), iPhone 11 Pro Max
Taking us from the natural world to the urban environment, there’s something very deliberate about this shot of the internal courtyard of a building block. It’s got that slightly otherworldly light that is characteristic of software-assisted night shots, but in a way that serves its aesthetic. You can almost lose track of which way is up as the parallel lines of the walkways extending away from the lens draw you into the photograph. The night sky at the top of the frame, meanwhile, is pitch black.
Konstantin Chalabov (Moscow, Russia), iPhone 11 Pro
Another photograph contrasting warm colours with the coldest imaginable, with the head and taillights of this truck lighting up the middle of the frame while the cold expanse extends in front of and behind it. Meanwhile, once again a huge hunk of rock stands by nearby to illustrate the harshness of the environment, as do the frigid trees visible in the background. The blue of the sky and snow is almost cold enough to feel through the screen.
Yu “Eric” Zhang (Beijing, China), iPhone 11 Pro Max
Back to the city we go, with this picture managing to capture the eclectic hustle of a side street in Beijing. There’s a lot going on but the small details are what win out, whether it’s the neon trainer at the bottom of the frame, the posters barely legible to the far right, or the different coloured ingredients on that trader’s table in the centre, its steam wafting up into the sky. The skyscrapers looming in the background are the perfect reminder that this isn’t some rural scene.
Mitsun Soni (Mumbai, Maharashtra, India), iPhone 11 Pro
This image is simply awash in red, obvious though that may seem. We can assume all we like about where the deep red light is actually emanating from, but it gives this picture the feeling of almost being from Mars. The tree’s branches are still detailed and intricate, though, while the stars picked out in the darkening sky at the top of the frame make a perfect contrast to the monolith in the centre of the frame.