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4 Tips for Low Light Photography Success

December 20, 2013 IADT General, Photography 0 Comments

4 Tips for Low Light Photography SuccessAn early morning or late night photography assignment can make exposures tricky to get right. Get it wrong, and pictures will turn out dark and blurry or ghostly and pale. Make low light photography easier by manually adjusting settings on your camera and relying on a little outside support. Here's how.

Adjust the Camera's ISO

On a digital camera, manually adjust the film speed, or ISO. Although a digital camera doesn't actually use film, this function still exists to calibrate the sensitivity of the camera's image sensor.

When working in low light, increase the ISO to 800 or 1600 to make it easier to create an exposure in the dim conditions. The higher the ISO number, the more light the camera can collect.

With this feature comes a downside: grain. The higher the ISO, the more noise or grain you will notice in your images. The pixels may appear slightly soft focused or more pronounced like in a vintage hand-printed photograph.

Pick a Slow Shutter Speed

When creating an exposure in low light, use a slow shutter speed, which is usually indicated by a time-value (TV) setting. This allows more time for light to enter the camera.

The rule of thumb is to never go below the inverse of the focal length of the lens you're using. So, if you're shooting with a 50mm lens, don't set the shutter speed to less than 1/50th of a second. If you go any slower, you might create a blurred photo from the movement of your hands on the camera.

Use a slow shutter speed when photographing still life, not moving subjects, or the picture will blur. If your subjects must move, use a flash to freeze the motion.

Use a Camera Support

To reduce blur caused by touching the camera, use a tripod, monopod or other camera support to steady the camera. If you have a remote control, fire the camera without touching the camera body to even further reduce the risk of camera shake and blurry photos.

The slower the shutter speed, the more you need a camera support to get the photo to turn out. Shutter speeds below 1/30th of a second are incredibly difficult for even the most seasoned photographer to execute without a camera support.

Choose a Wide Aperture

Let as much light into the camera as possible. By opening the aperture ring wide, you can use as much available light as possible without losing depth of field (the level of focus from the foreground to the background).

The aperture setting, usually denoted as AV (aperture value), can be a little confusing. The larger the aperture number, the smaller the opening. So, to get ample light into the camera, choose a small number, such as 2.8 or 4.0.

How do you tackle low light photography subjects? Tell us your favorite tips and tricks in the comments below.

Photo source: SXC.HU

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