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Learn By Doing Photography

Low Light Photography – Learn by Doing Photography

Week # 47 This week we’re working with low light photography

Thanks Kev Alderson for suggesting low light photography!  This week I had the opportunity to shoot in a low light situation when the band Other Lives came to Missoula. Nothing says low light to me like shooting a band in a dark bar!

When in a low light situation like the picture below I usually shoot in manual mode / spot meter.  I meter off the face and watch to make sure my shutter speed doesn’t go below 1/60th. Keeping the ISO as high as the camera will go (remember this will add noise if you go to the top of your ISO limits).  A lot of my pictures that night were taken with a 50mm lens so I could get a little extra light with the wider aperture of f/1.8. However this picture was taken with the kit lens that came with the camera 18-55mm lens. The lights were flashing a lot on the stage so if I waited for the moment the lights were the brightest, that is when I would take the picture.

A lot of time when in low light situations, like shooting a band I use manual focus. This particular night I didn’t have to since there was enough light on the subject when the lights got brighter. But in some situations you might hear your camera having a hard time focusing that is when you need to switch to manual focus.

When you first hear low light you might think after sunset or somewhere outdoors. But low light can be in your living room or at your children’s gym Christmas concert.  Anywhere where there just isn’t much light to work with.

Low light photography tips:

1. Use your largest aperture – shooting at f/2.8 lets in more light than if your were shooting at f/5.6.

2. Turn up the ISO – Just remember when you are at the highest ISO your camera has there will be some noise in the picture. I don’t think that is bad, sometimes I like that extra feel of grain in the picture.

3. Watch your shutter speed if you’re hand holding! In low light situations sometimes you don’t realize how low your shutter speed went until it’s too late and your pictures are a bit blurry.

4. Here is a math equation to figure out what is the best hand held shutter speed for your particular lens:

Minimum Shutter Speed = 1 / (focal length * CF) So if your lens is a 100mm lens multiply that by the crop factor. (If you have a APS-C camera, lens factor of 1.6x ) so 100mm  x 1.6 = 1/16oth of a second.
*I was told in most cases don’t go over 1/60th for hand held. The longer the lens the longer the shutter speed should be!

5. Think about a tripod if the situation permits

Any other tips I should add?

This is a great video I found that talks in detail about low light photography:

Remember you can post your pictures at the bottom of this post or on DigitalCamFan FaceBook wall. If you have questions about “Learn By Doing” Please refer to the guideline page. If you have no questions post away!

Related posts:

LBD Photography - Negative Space in Photography
High Key Photography - LBD Photography
Fast Shutter Speed - Learn by Doing Photography


2 Responses to “Low Light Photography – Learn by Doing Photography”

  1. Hey Amy, Great information on Low Light Photography. I have watched the video on Low Light shooting & will watch it again to get something I may have missed. Also there is a part to click on for Lens & am interested in that also. I need to know exactly which lens is the one to get for myself & want to be ready for when that times comes for an upgraded lens. Wide angle lens is also setting on my mind. Want what I want for the right price. Patients is the key. HELPFUL INFORMATION IN MANY AREAS.

    Posted by Bonnie Donovan | October 26, 2012, 5:26 pm
  2. Thanks!

    I too am always looking for that perfect lens. I think the next one I buy I want to save and buy a quality lens. The question is which one. I have have my eye on the 16-35mm and the 17-40mm!

    Posted by admin | October 27, 2012, 12:19 am

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