Low Light Photography: Tips and Tricks
Prepare for low light photography with the right gear. A fast lens will make it easier to take photographs when it’s dark, because they are made for shooting in low light conditions. The larger the maximum aperture, the faster the lens is. However, these lenses can be pricey. To save money, it’s cheaper to choose a 50mm fast lens.
Taking test shots before the real photoshoot is also essential for checking if you have the right settings on your camera. While it’s tempting to take all the photos you want without checking if they come out right, put aside time during the shooting to check if the setting is right. This is especially helpful if you can go to the photography location the day before the real event.
Scout the location to see if you can make the setting brighter for photography. Open up windows, move the subject to somewhere with light or bring in new light sources.
If you have no way to rent or buy photography equipment, bring a flashlight to shoot in low light conditions. Carry heavy duty flashlights and reflectors or a diffuser box with you to your shooting spot. Flashlights shine a harsh light akin to the camera flash, and can come in warm or cold light. It’s not ideal because a flashlight gives a concentrated hard lighting, but it can work if you’re not aiming for best photography results and simply want to take clear pictures at a lower cost.
Try out EagleTac or Fenix flashlights. The EagleTac flashlights have more neutral colour lighting ranges that make it easier to adjust white balance while post processing images. The E05 Fenix Flashlight is also great for photography as it can be easily carried on a keychain, and the lighting lasts for almost three hours.
Soften the Flash
If you decide not to buy any lighting accessories in the end, get a piece of half opaque tape and stick it in front of your camera’s flash. The flash that gives off a harsh light is now dimmed to give you a softer lighting when taking pictures. Do note that the flash consumes battery power very quickly unless if you bought one that has separate battery. You can always get spare batteries for your camera, so it’s no biggie.
Shooting RAW Images
If you don’t want to adjust white balance on the go, shoot RAW images. RAW images are images that retain all the information from the sensor. This gives you more work after taking a picture, and it takes up a larger space, but now you have the flexibility of deciding whether to adjust the image for warm lighting or cold lighting. You can even reduce the exposure of the image if it’s overexposed. Prepare to shoot RAW images by carrying more microSD cards.
Shooting in Manual Mode
With a great DSLR camera, you should make use of the manual mode. It is especially useful in a condition where lighting is constantly changing. Set the right white balance and ISO by taking test shots.
Balance aperture, shutter then ISO for the best condition for shooting. Increase shutter speed to reduce blurring, correct exposure with lower aperture, then adjust ISO. Ideally, ISO should be less than 400 for less noise in your photos. The aperture should be opened wider so it could capture as much light as possible. Try out F4.0 to F1.2. F4.0 has a less blurry background, but you might have to set lower shutter speed to increase brightness.
In short, to be great at shooting in dim light, it can take either technical know-how on what makes a camera work best, or simplifying the process a little more with the correct gear.
Hopefully all this gives you the knowledge you need to take the perfect shot in dim lighting. Whether you choose to bring a flashlight or invest in a professional speedlight, it all depends on your needs and your preference. Just remember that if you bought something that costs an arm and a leg, cherish it and keep it protected with the best and secure Pacsafe camera bags and accessories.
Common camera terms:
Aperture – The gap that lets light into the camera sensor. The bigger the aperture, the more light enters the camera.
Fast lens– The larger the maximum aperture the faster the lens is
White balance – Affects how cool or warm the colours of the photo.
Shutter speed – How long the shutter opens to expose light into the camera sensor.
ISO – Sensitivity of camera towards light. The lower it is, the less sensitive to light it is.