Dark Photography

Dark Photography – A Guide For Beginners

So you’ve decided that you want to spend the time learning how to use dark photography for more than just having that pretty picture hanging on the wall. It’s the right move if you want to create those stunning looking images you see in travel magazines and the like. However, if you are like most other people, you have probably got a bit of a fear about actually doing it. 

Don’t worry! Today I’ve come up with this blog where I’ll be covering everything you need to know about dark photography. 

So come, let’s dive into it without any further delay.

Oh, wait! Before we get into dark photography, read our blog on how to learn photography online.

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What is Dark Photography? 

Dark photography is like writing a novel with a half-inch pencil stub if photography is writing with light. The right moment, on the other hand, does not wait for perfect lighting; in fact, dark circumstances can sometimes produce stunning photos. 

You can shoot amazing shots with little to no light, whether it’s snapping a photo inside your home, catching an event inside a theatre, or doing some evening sightseeing—it just takes a bit more effort.

grayscale photo of person holding dslr camera

Dark photography, as the name implies, is the skill of taking dark, sombre photographs with dark colours and tones. As a result of the deep shadows and the fact that much of the detail is hidden, your mind fills in the blanks for you.

Low key photography is another word that is frequently used to describe dark photography. High key photography, on the other hand, emphasizes vivid colours and higher exposure levels.

A must-read: 10 Low Light Photography Tips To Help You Take Stunning Photos In Dark

It’s important to remember that night photography is different from dark photography, however shooting in low light is an important aspect of this genre.

Dark Photography – Tips and Tricks

DSLRs with large sensors and the ability to add a suitable low light lens are excellent instruments for dark photography. 

But, as with any equipment, the knowledge of the craftsman behind it is paramount—here are 7 low light shooting tips to help you get the most out of your DSLR.

1. Make the necessary preparations:

With a little forethought, dark photography becomes a lot easier. What kind of illumination will there be? When is the ideal time to photograph? While you can’t control the time of day for many photographs, you can choose the ideal time for night landscapes, such as sunset for a warm glow, dusk for a blue tone, or complete night for really emphasizing any light sources.

black sony dslr camera on black table

Low light photography is significantly easier with the correct tools—and some photos are impossible without them. Bring a tripod, a flash, and your fastest lens if you can. It’s also a good idea to keep a tiny flashlight in your bag so you don’t have to fumble with controls in the dark.

man in black crew neck t-shirt holding black video camera
Also Read: Learn How To Shoot In Low Light

2. Use a tripod to avoid camera shake:

Shutter speeds are slower when there is less light. Camera wobble is worsened by slower shutter rates. Simply by utilizing a tripod, you can keep the blur at bay. While a tripod will not prevent blur from moving subjects, it will assist prevent blur from occurring throughout the image due to camera shake. 

With a tripod, you can shoot at slower shutter rates than you might with a handheld camera and still get a sharp image. Use a remote release (or the self-timer if you don’t have one) to further stabilize the shot—even with a tripod, your hand on the camera can cause blur.

man in gray crew neck t-shirt standing beside man in gray crew neck t-shirt

Just make sure your tripod isn’t obstructing your view—if necessary, do some exploring first, then return to get your gear once you’ve located the ideal location to set up.

3. Use shutter priority or full manual mode to get the best results:

In low light, if there’s ever a moment to turn off auto, it’s now. If you haven’t already, learn to use manual modes and shutter priority mode. As a result, you’ll be able to select the appropriate shutter speed for your photo. 

Keep your shutter speed above 1/200 if you’re trying to freeze activity. You can use a considerably slower shutter speed if you have a tripod and your subject is immobile (or you want to blur the action). Shutter priority ensures that the shutter speed remains constant while the rest of the settings are chosen for you. 

man in black and red long sleeve shirt holding black video camera

With further practice, you’ll be able to operate anything in manual mode.

4. A loud image is usually preferable to a blurry image:

In low light situations, you must choose between noise from a high ISO level and blur from a slower shutter speed. A noisy, sharp photograph is preferable nine times out of ten than a blurry one, with the tenth occasion designated for intentional motion blur with the long exposure technique. 

According to John Greengo, the instructor for the Fundamentals of Photography programme, compromising clarity in a photograph is a common rookie mistake. “Blur reduces the sharpness of every photograph by a factor of two, so be ruthless in your sharpness.”

Read Also: Aesthetic Photography - A Comprehensive Guide

In Photoshop, noise can be decreased to some amount, but sharpness cannot be replicated. If you take a fuzzy picture, there’s no way to fix it in post-production. If in doubt, go with noise over blur.

5. Know your gear: When it comes to ISO, how high is too high?

At high ISOs, some cameras perform admirably, while others produce a blurry, splotchy mess. What is the classification of your camera? Knowing your gear will help you determine how high you can confidently push the ISO. Take a few test photographs at each ISO setting, then examine them on your computer at 100%. 

When it comes to noise, where does it come from? Where does the quality of noise become unacceptable? While this is a personal preference, watch for colour noise, splotches of strange colour, and a significant loss of detail.

6. Increase the aperture on your camera:

When the amount of light available is restricted, it’s critical to allow in as much as possible. This necessitates the use of a large aperture or a low f-number. When it comes to aperture, though, not all lenses are made equal.

black nikon dslr camera on blue surface

The maximum aperture on the kit lens that came with your DSLR is probably around f/3.6. However, many lenses will only be able to achieve f/1.8 or even lower. If you’re shooting with a kit lens, upgrading to a faster lens will dramatically improve your dark image quality. 

A Suggested Read: Ultimate Guide To Get Started With Photography

Wide-aperture lenses are more expensive, although prime lenses (no zoom) may often be obtained for less than $300.

7. Don’t be afraid of the flash:

Most beginning photographers are apprehensive about using flash—after all, how many photographs have you seen with a clear “flash look”? Flash is a powerful tool, but it must be used correctly. Begin by understanding how to use manual mode to regulate your flash. 

Even if you only have a pop-up flash, you can reduce the strength to half or 1/16 to avoid the dazzling “flash look.” Manual flash, unlike manual exposure, does not have a meter, so it requires some practice, but it is well worth the extra work. 

Shooting towards any existing light sources is also beneficial; otherwise, you’ll wind up with a black background. You can also try bouncing the flash by turning it towards a wall or ceiling if you have a hot shoe flash.

Dark Photography Editing Tips

If you know how to edit dark images effectively, you can achieve amazing results. Follow these techniques to make your photos even more appealing with expert editing!

silver iMac turned on

1. Make Your Subject More Interesting:

Your subject is most likely the sole bright spot in your otherwise dark photograph. If you didn’t use a flash, you may need to brighten your subject a little more! In Lightroom, modify the Exposure, Highlights, and Whites to get this.

group of people celebrating occassion

2. Make White Balance Changes:

In low-key photographs, the white balance is frequently incorrect — if you’re using a flash, it may be too cool, and if you’re using interior illumination, it may be too warm. As a result, ensure that you check and alter the white balance during post-production.

Read Here: Kickstart Your Learning With These 5 Photography Challenges For Beginners

3. Noise Reduction:

One of the most common challenges in low light photography is noise. Even though we should keep our ISO low, it’s occasionally impossible to avoid doing so. Keep in mind that noise reduction blurs the image and should be used with caution. Only use it when required.

multicolored abstract painting

4. Experiment With Colors:

If your image has both cool and warm tones, you can experiment with the colours in Lightroom’s HSL panel. Change the colours to make a striking and colourful contrast between the chilly and warm areas of your image.

person editing photo on computer

5. Incorporate a Vignette:

Photographs with low contrast, particularly portraiture, are perfect for experimenting with vignettes. In Lightroom, you can make vignettes with the Radial Filter, which is much superior to the Vignette Tool because it allows you to simply choose where your vignette should be put.

black and white polka dot textile
Read our Comprehensive Guide on Long Exposure Photography

6. Remove any creases or pleats in the backdrop:

If you’re shooting in a studio, you’ll want to make sure your black background is spotless and wrinkle-free. You’ll need to modify the Shadows and Blacks sliders till you have a wrinkle-free black backdrop to make such a uniform background. Remember that these are global changes that will affect the subject as well; you may need to use the Adjustment Brush to restore some details.

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In the end, 

A dark image is just one with a lot of dark tones. There are numerous methods to accomplish this; always feel free to try new things!

To sum up, while we’re attempting to capture darkness, a wonderful dark image is created by the application and control of light. Due to the scarcity of light, all attention is drawn to the light that is permitted to remain. 

flat lay photography of cameras and camera gear

Because all of your lighting decisions will be seen in your shot, this sort of photography, while entertaining and whimsical, necessitates a thorough understanding of light, shadow, and tone. To manage the crucial shadow detail, precise lighting is essential.

Manipulate the lighting and subject location until the shadows are exactly where you want them to be. It’s that simple. It’s also tricky.

See you on the “dark” side xD

If you want to learn more about dark photography, visit GoSocial. Not just that, GoSocial lets you grab this opportunity to interact with many artists who are into dark photography and love clicking dark photographs. If you are someone looking to attend/host workshops on dark photography or join communitiesGoSocial is for you.