Low Light Photography
Avoid the temptation to use a flash for your low light photography whenever possible. If you want to successfully capture the mood of a subject, the best technique is to use the light that is already available. This method gives your images lighting that will be softer and more forgiving.
Under dark light levels, most photographers listen to the digital camera’s shake alert and switch over to a flash. This will avoid the risk of camera-shake; however, the approach will also lead to many problems in your images. The trouble with flash photography is that it can very easily destroy the mood and atmosphere of the picture you are trying to capture.
This difficulty can present itself in many conditions: taking portraits indoors, architectural interiors, shooting sports on an overcast day, taking close-ups in the forest, music venues … But luckily there are some tips to using the available light without having to resort to flash photography.
Support the Camera
Giving your camera some support allows the shutter speed to be reduced to levels which otherwise would ruin the image with camera-shake. It is not a good idea to hand-hold a camera below 1/60sec for a standard zoom or 1/250sec for a telephoto lens.
As an emergency method, you may be able to get away with 1/15sec and 1/6sec respectively, if you brace yourself carefully . For best results, hold the camera firmly to avoid camera-shake in your photograph. Tuck your elbows in close to your body and then breathe out before squeezing the shutter smoothly.
A better alternative is to find some way of supporting and bracing the camera, such as a wall, table, or other flat surface. Of course the best technique is to use a quality photography tripod. This will allow you to use whatever shutter speed you like with no worry of a lack of sharpness from camera-shake ruining your picture.
Use An Image-Stabilizing Lens
Most leading manufacturers offer the option to incorporate advanced features such as “image-stabilizing” technology in their lenses. This minimizes, but does not completely remove the effect of camera-shake in the image. Normally they will give you two to three stops advantage. So, lighting conditions that would normally be shot at 1/250sec could use 1/60sec or even 1/30sec.
Move Closer to The Light
The easiest tip for keeping shutter speeds up is to just move your camera closer to the light source. It doesn’t matter if it’s a street lamp outdoors or a large window indoors. Light intensity follows the inverse square law; your lens will have much more available light the closer you are to the light source.
Use the Fastest Lens With Maximum Aperture
Each camera lens will let in varying light levels. The maximum aperture defines the light-gathering power of a lens in the world of photography. A f/2 lens lets in twice as much a f/2.8 lens, which lets in twice as much as an f/4 lens which lets in twice as much as an f/5.6 lens — and so on. The lens with the largest maximum aperture, the fastest lens, should be your choice for low light photography.
Increase the Camera’s Film Speed Setting
Another technique for low light photography is to increase the ISO setting. This makes the sensor in your digital camera more sensitive to light. This trick mimics using a different film in older cameras and will enable you to keep taking pictures in conditions with low light levels.
For example, if you generally shoot at ISO100, you could change your settings to IS0200 or even ISO400 in most cases without a significant drop in image quality. Be careful you try to go beyond that'”to ISO800, IS01600, or even ISO 3200 film settings, which are two, three, and four times as sensitive respectively'”will result in images that are not as sharp, detailed, or vibrantly colored. Your camera will give the best photographs if you use the highest ISO setting you actually need to deal with the low light conditions.