In search of the light

To the point

Starting Project Life last year has meant that I often need to capture moments early in the morning before it gets light, in the evening or at night when the light can be challenging. I do not particularly like taking shots like this with a flash, as I just love to use natural light whenever I can for this as I prefer the atmosphere that it evokes.

When there is lots of good quality light, there’s no denying that it becomes easier to take a good picture, it does not mean though that you have to stop shooting when the light starts to disappear or avoid low-light photography altogether. It just get a bit trickier if like me you prefer using available light. You have to know how to set your camera up to make the most of the failing light.

The tips I have found along the way  (in no particular order) are:-

  • Shoot in manual mode – if you shoot in manual mode and monitor your exposure in the viewfinder, it becomes easier.
  • Shoot with both eyes open – often I know I do close one eye when shooting in normal situations, but in low light I make sure both are open.
  • Use Single point auto focus – if not manually focusing.
  • Increase the ISO – I am lucky that my camera handles higher ISO’s quite well, but I have found quite a few shots I have taken have been grainy, especially my Project Life ones, for these types of shots I have embraced it and found that I actually love some of these shots now.
  • Use a fast lens – the faster the better. I use my 50mm 1.8 or 35mm 1.4 most of the time for this type of photography and have had a lot of success with my 100mm 2.8 macro too :-)
  • Spot meter – this type of light often has extreme, uneven ranges of light levels. Metering for such situations is difficult. If you choose to meter, keep in mind that you likely will NOT want middle gray tones; you want your night scenics to look as though they were taken at night, so they will usually be a couple of stops darker than what your averaging meter says. If you have a spot meter, take your measurements off important highlight areas, and use those settings. Bracket if you can.
  • Find the light – position yourself according to how the light falls on your subject.
  • Use a cable release – it reduces the risk of movement from pressing the shutter down.
  • Know your camera – it really does help to know your camera inside out as it makes it so much easier.
  • Shoot in RAW – this maximises your chances of getting more shots that you can use.
  • Keep steady – one of most important things in low-light photography is the shutter speed, it is important that the camera is as steady as possible to avoid camera shake, which is inevitable with slower shutter speeds. As a general rule, for sharp images you should use a tripod when the shutter speed is greater than the inverse of the lens focal length (for example, if you are using a 50mm lens then the shutter speed is 1/50 or longer).
  • Improvise – if you are using only ambient light it can be fun to explore the different  lighting sources that can be incorporated into an image – candles, lamps, and torches etc.
  • Reflectors – I usually use one now to ensure that I make the most of any available light and bounce it back on the photographic subject.

I am sure there are a lot of other tips that you have found, but these ones have really helped me a lot to be more successful in low light situations.

Below are just a few photos I have taken (including the top one above of some of the older girls, at a ballet show my daughter did).

I found this document recently online (which I added to my Pin Interest account), as the post says it can be used on blogs, I thought I would share it here, as it has some useful info on it.

low light photography
[Snapsort’s Low Light Photography Infographic]

Don’t miss another photo due to low light, embrace it and the fun begins :-)If you have any other tips for photography in these conditions I would love to know?

Come over and check out my FACEBOOK page, I would love to know what you think and hit the like button if you’d like 8)

LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE – enjoying and recording the everyday moments of life.