Photography Lighting: how to take control of everything from natural light to flash

Photography Lighting: take control of everything from natural light to off-camera flash

Master shooting in low light conditions

In his section we take a look at the best settings and methods to use when shooting in low light.

Photography Lighting: how to master shooting in low light

From dimly lit interiors to shooting outdoors before sunrise or after sunset, shooting in low light presents very different challenges to shooting in bright conditions.

It’s often difficult to get the right exposure using the automatic modes in dark conditions, so you’ll need to master Manual mode.

These conditions can also make things like focusing and white balance more challenging, but it’s worth overcoming them, because shooting in low light can result in stunning images.

Exposing in low light

Shooting in darker conditions can play havoc with your camera’s exposure settings, especially if you’re using any of the automatic exposure modes, because the subject will rarely contain a normal range of tones.

In most low-light situations you will get much better, and more predictable, results by switching to Manual.

If the subject contains mainly dark tones you’ll find that your camera will over-expose your shots. This is easily visible, as there will be too much detail in the shadow areas.

The best way to assess the exposure is to take a test shot, and then check the histogram graph. If there’s a gap to the left, the image is over-exposed so you need to use a faster shutter speed, smaller aperture or lower ISO.

When it comes to choosing the exposure settings for shooting in low light you have some decisions to make.

Firstly, do you need to use a fast shutter speed to freeze movement or prevent camera shake if you are handholding the camera, or are you happy to put the camera on a tripod and use long shutter speeds?

To use a fast shutter speed in low light you’ll have to use a high ISO setting, such as 800 or above. But when using a tripod you should set a lower ISO such as 200 or lower for the best quality.

PAGE 1: Understanding the character of light
PAGE 2: How to control your photography lighting
PAGE 3: Taking control of the light
PAGE 4: Use a reflector to fill in the shadows
PAGE 5: Using fill-in flash
PAGE 6: Making the most of natural light
PAGE 7: Predicting the natural light
PAGE 8: Shoot in the direction of light
PAGE 9 Exposing in low light
PAGE 10: Shooting in twilight vs complete darkness
PAGE 11: How to shoot handheld in low light
PAGE 12: Why you might want to use flash
PAGE 13: Soften the light from your flash
PAGE 14: How to use flash triggers


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