Chapter 13: Tips For Low Light Photography – The Ultimate Beginners Photography Guide

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Welcome to the Chapter: 13 of Free Online Photography Course – The Ultimate Beginners Photography Guide.

In the last Chapter 12: How To Avoid And Reduce Noise? we took an in depth look at things you can do to avoid and reduce noise as much as possible. In this Chapter 13, we will take a look at few tips and important things you can do to get good quality low light photography image. So, let’s get started!

Before we dive into our main topic, here is a short explanation of low light photography:

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Introduction To Low Light Photography

Low light photography is all about capturing a good picture with minimal illumination. Basically, this means keeping the shutter open long enough and wide enough to let in sufficient light.

In simple words, low light photography is a type of photography where you capture images in low light conditions.

Low Light Photography Example

Now, how do we achieve a good quality image in low light conditions? or how do we get a perfectly exposed image in low light conditions? Well, if you are wondering about these question you are lucky to get stumbled upon this article. The main goal of this article is to help you get better at low light photography.

Low light photography is something that we all must deal with as photographers. Whether you’re taking photos with a point and shoot during an evening out, shooting a wedding party or capturing a landscape at dusk it’s important to understand the basics of shooting with low light. Photography is all about light. Low light photography is no different, and it offers new challenges and opportunities for creativity.

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Low Light Photography Tips

Courtesy of snapsort, here is an infographic on how to achieve a good quality image in low light conditions:

low light photography
Snapsort’s Low Light Photography Infographic

Well, the above infographic pretty much covers all you need to know for achieving good quality images in low light conditions. However, I would like to add few more tips for you, which aren’t included in the above infographic. They are as follows:

1. Always Have A Plan Before Starting To Shoot Low Light Photography

Low light photography is much easier with some pre-planning. What kind of light will be there? When is the best time to take the photo? While you can’t choose the time of many images, subjects like night landscapes benefit from choosing the right time, like sunset for a warm glow, dusk for a blue tone or full night for really emphasizing any light sources.

The right tools makes low light photography much easier and some shots are impossible without them. Plan ahead of time to bring a tripod, flash and your fastest lens. It’s also helpful to pack a small flashlight in your bag so you’re not fumbling around with the controls in the dark.

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2. Try Using Shutter-Priority Mode Or Manual Mode

As mentioned above in the infographic, first set your camera to aperture-priority mode and if it doesn’t work for you or you want to change your shutter speed or want to have full control over the settings, try using try using Shutter-Priority Mode or Manual Mode. You should get yourself familiar with camera modes.

That will allow you to choose the right shutter speed for your shot. If you are trying to freeze action, try to keep it above 1/200. If you have a tripod and your subject is motionless (or you want to blur the motion), you can use a much slower shutter speed. Using shutter priority will make sure the shutter speed stays at the level you need, while selecting the rest of the settings for you. With more experience, you can take full control on manual mode.

3. Know Your Gear

Some cameras perform great at high ISOs, while others create a grainy image and introduce noise in your photos. What category does your camera fall under? It’s important to know your gear, so you know just how high you can confidently push the ISO. Snap a few test shots at each ISO setting then view them at 100 percent on your computer or on your mobile phone. Where does noise creep in? Where does noise become unacceptable quality? While that’s a matter of opinion, look for things like color noise, or splotches of unusual color, and a big loss of detail.

For example: Fujifilm X-T4 in JPEG images there is no visible sign of noise all the way up to ISO 6400, the impact of noise at ISO 12,800 is seen through a minor colour desaturation and smudged detail in shadow areas. Of course the extended high settings of ISO 25,600 and ISO 51,200 progressively exhibit more noise but those images are still usable.

4. A Noisy Image Is Better Than Out Of Focus Blurry Image

Shooting in low light means choosing between the noise from a high ISO setting, or the blur from a slower shutter speed. Nine times out of ten, a noisy, sharp image is better than a blurry one and that tenth time should be reserved for intentional motion blur with the long exposure technique.

Noise can be reduced to some extent in post-processing, but sharpness cannot be mimicked. If you capture a blurry photo, there’s no way to remedy that in post processing.

If you want to know about how to avoid or reduce noise as much as possible, I recommend you to vist my previous article/chapter on this exact topic.

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5. AF Assist Will Help You Use Auto-Focus in Low-Light Conditions

Shooting in dim conditions may mean that your camera will find it difficult to auto-focus. Sometimes it’s just too dark for the camera to determine how far a subject is.

Thankfully, any modern digital cameras have an “AF assist” feature. The AF assist lamp is often in front of the camera. It turns on to illuminate the scene if it’s too dark.

You can activate this feature on your camera’s menu. It will automatically turn on when you half-press your shutter in dark environments.

6. Zoom In While In Live View To Focus In The Dark

Your “AF Assist” may not work in some situations, especially if your subject is too far away. In this case, a flashlight may help illuminate the scene to get a focus lock. It would also help a lot if you turn on Live View and zoom in on the subject digitally to let you see the details better.

Using your screen as the guide, twist the focus ring manually until your main point of interest is sharp. Now all you have to do is press the shutter.

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This is the end of Chapter 13: Tips For Low Light Photography of the Free Online Photography Course – The Ultimate Beginners Photography Guide. You can subscribe to The Black Light Studios website to stay tuned and get notifications on the upcoming chapters. In the mean time you can check my other posts on this website.

This is it for this post. Thank You! for visiting The Black Light Studios, I hope you find this article helpful to you and got the information you were looking for. Stay tuned for more posts like these by subscribing to The Black Light Studios website. If you have any suggestion or feedback comment down below or contact us through the contact form via contact menu.

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