Learning to manually focus at night takes a bit of work. First of all, you will need to place your camera on a tripod. Then use some of the tips listed below to get focused properly.
- Place your camera on manual focus first.
- Many lenses mark where the infinity point is on your lens. If you have this (see graphic above) on your lens, try taking a shot using that.
- Using Live View on your camera, you can zoom in on a distant light, star, or even moon and adjust your focus until it is crisp. If none of these are in your composition, you can move your camera to whatever direction any of these are, then once focused, recompose.
- If your subject is closer to you, try using a flashlight. I often place a flashlight about 4 feet in front of what I am shooting, then focus with my camera, then I retrieve the flashlight.
- Many cameras have auto focus assist. If you use this option, your camera will shoot a beam of light briefly on whatever is directly in front of you, and try to auto focus on it. Although it is not manually focusing, it can help.
Practice makes perfect. Applying some of these tips in the hardest condition to practice is a good way to perfect this technique.