Shooting in Low Light

I thought I would talk about low light photography. When I think of low light situations I think of perhaps taking photos of a band playing in a dimly-lit club or a birthday party where there is very limited available light.

When taking this type of photo you will want to preserve the ambience of the available light. Using a flash is not desirable in this situation. It would be best to use your “fastest” lens meaning a lens with a wide aperture such as the affordable 50mm ƒ/1.8.

In order to get clear, properly exposed photos in this type of situation, you will want to set your aperture to the widest setting possible for the lens you are using, in order to enable you to have a faster shutter speed so you can freeze the action.

 

In order to avoid camera shake while hand holding the camera the general rule is that your shutterspeed should be at least 1/the length of the lens you are using.

For example if you are using the mentioned 50mm lens then your should should be set no slower than 1/50th seconds. Now that takes care of the camera shake, but the action you are trying to capture could still be blurred as the subject may be moving faster than that. How quick your shutterspeed is would depend upon how fast the subject is moving.

In some cases you may want to capture the sense of motion in your image. Chances are having a wide aperture setting will not be enough to achieve the shutterspeed you need to get really clear low light photos that are properly exposed. This is where the ISO setting comes into play.

With your aperture set to the widest setting and your shutterspeed set where you want it to freeze the action, change your ISO setting so you get a proper exposure.

Remember that higher ISO settings will increase the amount of digital noise that will appear in your photos.

 

Personally I would rather get a sharp image with some digital noise than a blurry photo that was free of digital noise.

 

If you shoot in RAW and have Adobe Bridge or PhotoShop you can remove a lot of the digital noise in Adobe Camera Raw. I’m sure there are other equally good products available to achieve similar result.