Taking pictures at the time when it starts getting dark could be challenging for beginners. To get the desired exposure and vibrance, we tend to look for bright days or places with enough light coming in. This ideal situation is not always available, and also, we photographers have to become an expert in clicking breathtaking photographs even during the gloomy photoshoot. Though there is nothing that could compensate for light during golden hours, there are some inventive low light photography tips that could help you click remarkably and assist in gloomy photography.
Low light photography tips:
Make complete use of the Lens
There are versatile lenses available for achieving the desired results if you wish to experiment with tools. The kit lens that comes with the camera is also efficient in clicking stunning photographs during the dark if you keep some aspects in mind.
Adjust the aperture to the widest setting of your camera and restrict any movement of the camera during the shoot. Using a tripod would be the best way forward. You can turn the photography around with one of the best ways to shoot in the dark if you do not zoom in while clicking, as doing this makes your photographs look blurry at times.
If you are looking to invest some money, you can opt for a prime lens with a fixed focal length and a relatively large aperture (f/1.4 to f/2.8). A larger aperture will allow more light to come in. Though it is possible to achieve a lot with the kit lens, you just need to follow our approach to photography.
Go for a Raw Photo Format
One of the most crucial but ignored low light photography tips is to set your DSLR to raw rather than JPEG(Joint Photographic Experts Group) file format. JPEG is a lossy compression photo format responsible for reducing the size and detailing to accommodate more in less space.
Though the JPEG compression algorithm is efficient, nothing could beat a lossless photograph with all the details intact. Raw images are the most original ones, and you may also compare them with analog photos of old times. The only difference is that we store images digitally and not on a piece of paper.
The raw format also provides complete control to correct the technical errors while editing, which is not entirely possible with the processed JPEGs.
Play with the White Balance
Every colour has a different light and amount of whites in it. This variance makes the photos look more blue or yellow due to the change in colour temperature in artificial lights.
White balance helps adjust the colour temperature and produce more neutral photographs. This feature lets you toggle between the temperatures of the image so that you can decide between a warmer-looking photo or a colder one. This may sound ambiguous at the start, but the temperature has a notable impact on the skin tones of the object. Adjusting white balance can make the objects look brighter, which is not always possible in dim settings.
Usually, in professional cameras, the white balance is set to auto, but we suggest adjusting it manually to take complete control in your hands. Manual mode for white balance is appropriate because the auto mode makes the picture look the same as it would appear in natural conditions. But we love to explore and experiment with the white colour tones in the background, which is not possible in automatic modes.
Make use of High ISO
One of the initial low light photography tips is to keep ISO as high as possible. While shooting in dark, getting a vibrant output will become challenging with low ISO. Higher ISO lets in more light through the sensor for brighter image production. Also, the sensor will require less time to achieve suitable exposure.
Higher ISO may sometimes lead to an increase in noise due to the breakage of pixels. The same could get fixed and adjusted easily during editing. Some photographers find this noise interesting as well; you may decide the same during later stages.
Keep the Shutter Speed Slow
The shutter speed controls the amount of light that can enter the camera’s lens. Slow shutter speed will allow more light to reach the sensor. While shooting in dark, it’s ideal to set your shutter speed to a fraction of the focal length. If you are using a 30 mm lens, then set the shutter speed at 1/30. However, slow shutter speed might cause motion blur in images due to a longer exposure time. To avoid this, try using a tripod and not setting the shutter speed below 1/30.
Motion blur is not always bad as it looks attractive in pictures shot at night in busy streets, roads etc. You can experiment with the shutter speed and capture creative motion blur shots of moving subjects if you want to get a softer and blurry effect in your photographs.
Use Wide Aperture
A wide aperture allows more light to pass through the camera lens and makes it easier to shoot when the setting is not that bright. Aperture and f-number are inversely proportional, which means that the lower f-number will produce a wider aperture. For instance, setting the f-number at f/4.5 will allow more light to pass through the camera lens than shooting in f/16. Widening the aperture will help you in capturing images with good exposure in the dark.
You can take stunning landscape shots in the evening and during sunset/sunrise with a wide aperture. But wide aperture can also make the background subject look blurry due to shallow depth of field. To avoid this, you can set the f-number to a medium point (f-6 or f-8) where the aperture is wide enough to let the light in without blurring the background too much.
Experiment with Mobile Phone’s Camera
Wondering if it is possible to shoot in a gloomy setting without a DSLR? Well, it is! You don’t need to buy a brand new DSLR to click great pictures at night. The quality might not be that good, but you can still capture some stunning images from your mobile.
While picking up the trend of mobile photography, manufacturers have introduced night mode, which enables you to click decent pictures in the dark. To get the best results while shooting with a smartphone, try to keep these Low light photography tips in mind:-
- Avoid zooming in too much as it can pixelate the picture.
- Try using a tripod for better stability and restricting unwanted movement.
- Avoid capturing objects in motion when shooting.
- Tap on the screen to manually focus on the subject for better clarity.
Due to the ease of usage, many photographers are now shooting without DSLRs, and they are successfully churning out some stunning pictures.
Try HDR Mode (Mobile Phone)
Specifically moving towards the low light photography tips for Mobile Phones, High Dynamic Range or HDR comes in handy. HDR mode lets you add more exposure to your photographs by differentiating decently between the dark and light areas of the image.
HDR works well to add more vibrance to a photo using AI-based software enhancements, which assist immensely during still photography. HDR is never suggested if the objects tend to move or the camera keeps shaking. It requires a steady platform like a tripod otherwise, you will end up with soft and blurry photographs.
The first answer to the challenges of photography in the dark comes with a flash. It is one of the most used ways to shoot in low light as you can capture bright pictures even in the dark.
If you are shooting from mobile, you can turn on the flash to capture beautiful images from a relatively closer distance. If you have a DSLR, then you can expect even better results with speed light for more exposure. Also, you can creatively play around with the camera flash and produce some exciting photographs. Like, you start shooting at night using flash and move the camera on several occasions to get smooth, vibrant images.
However, there are certain restrictions with flash usage as well. You cannot use direct flash in certain places like zoos, wildlife sanctuaries so that animals remain calm. Also, using flash in events when it is dark might disturb the people around you. So it is better to use flash only in certain places and look for other options where using flash is not recommended.
Use Artificial Lighting
Another great low-light photography tip is to use artificial lighting. When shooting indoors, you can use different artificial lights as props to capture aesthetically appealing pictures. You may also read ‘10 indoor photography tricks‘ and make complete use of the dim settings.
You can use a flashlight and drape it with a coloured net cloth to add a coloured tone to your photographs. You can also create shadows by placing the flash/torch near the window panes or in some other object so that the shadow falls on the subject’s face, and then you can click creative vintage shots. You can also make your subject pose with fairy lights and capture beautiful pictures in the dark.
There’s a lot to explore and experiment with, as our universe is full of hidden possibilities. We have shared some of the fundamental low light photography tips and some of the best ways to shoot in dark.
These tricks will give you a head start on the journey of being an expert photographer. To explore even more, you may check out some exciting photography challenges on GoSocial like the ‘Home Creative Photography Challenge’ and ‘Shutter Speed Photography Challenge.’ These challenges are helping hundreds of budding photographers to make an impact, and they are constantly learning from the fellow challengers.