Minimize the vibration at the beginning of the exposure by using the mirror lockup feature of your digital single lens reflex. Set the self timer to minimize the movement of the shutter and eventually camera shake. It is better if your camera has a remote shutter control.
Not all cameras with bulb settings can use remote shutter control. I tried using a rubber band to control the shutter button to get longer exposure time. I put the cap on the lens before opening the shutter and then I removed it to start the exposure. As soon as the exposure was complete, I put the cap back on the lens and take the rubber band off.
You can also try using a small timer like I did, preset the timer on your desired length of exposure. Let both the timer and the opening of the shutter start at the same time. You will know when the exposure is over, that is when the timer beeps. This is better than counting in your head.
Focusing in near-darkness – It is a little hard to focus in a little dark room. You should be armed with a flashlight to provide you with sufficient light you need to shed light on the subject. It will also make it easy for you to see the buttons and knobs of your camera while shooting in the dark. It will help if you switch the lens to manual focus to avoid focusing every time you shoot.
Want to see stars? If you see the stars in your place and you want to capture them, you should have an exposure of thirty seconds with ISO number at 400. The earth will rotate in thirty seconds and this will make the stars form a trail. Set the ISO at 100,f5.6 and an exposure of 5 minutes to a number of hours and you will capture the amazing trail of the stars.
Batteries – Never forget to bring extra batteries with you when you plan to shoot at night. The long exposures will consume the batteries you have so it is important that you have fresh or fully charged extra batteries with you all the time.
Go wide – If you want to have a better field of view, use a wide angle setting. It will also add depth of field and correct some errors you make in focusing the subject.
Go low – Nighttime shots will always be dramatic and magical in a way. They will appear even better and nice to look at if you set your tripod low to the ground with not more than 12 inches above the ground.
Experiment with white balance – Planning to photograph landscapes far from the lights in the city are better taken using the Daylight white balance. If it is a cityscape you are trying to capture, use Incandescent. This will prevent the lights in the background like the lights on the streets and windows to look orange in color. It will also help the blue sky become darker.
Music of the night
Experiment on different methods and techniques until you come up with the best technique that will work for you. Trial and error will also help you learn on how to come up with better looking images. Be armed with these tips as you go and start your own photographic music of the night.