One of the hardest things to master in photography is to capture sharp, crisp images in low-light conditions without the use of a flash.
You typically need a very fast lens to accomplish this, and we all know they can be quite expensive.
If you don’t own a fast lens, here are some low light photography tips that will help you capture better images.
Photo by Caeser Sebastian
1) Use a higher ISO
In low lighting photography situations, you usually need to increase the camera’s ISO setting, as it will enable more light to get through to the sensor because it comes in at a faster speed.
This means you need to increase the number of the ISO.
The higher the number is the more light gets through. For example, 800 will allow more light than 400 and it’s usually better in low light.
The only problem with a higher ISO is that it adds graininess (noise) to the photos. That is the trade off of using higher ISO numbers. Some photographers like this effect while others do not.
Just remember, you will get sharper images with a lower ISO. When shooting in low light, try an 800 ISO in low light and then go from there.
2) Try a slower shutter speed
The longer the shutter is open, the more light will get through because light has more time to reach the sensor.
If your subject is stationary you can use a longer shutter speed, but if the shot is still coming out blurry, you may need to use a tripod or monopod to make sure there’s no camera shake.
Any time you use a slow shutter speed it’s important to make sure the camera is very still. Some cameras and/or lenses have a built-in feature to help reduce shake, but this usually isn’t enough.
If you’re taking shots of a moving subject though, you’ll need a fast shutter speed with a higher ISO setting or lower aperture setting (explained next.)
3) Open the aperture
The aperture will also determine how much light reaches the camera’s sensor, since more light enters as the aperture widens.
Just remember that the lower the f-stop number is, such as f/2.8, the wider the aperture is. A higher aperture number such as f/16 means less light gets in as it’s not opened as wide.
The trade off of using a lower f-stop number is depth of field. The lower the number the less depth of field you have within a photo.
Photo by Marco Klapper
4) Use available light
If you don’t want to use a flash or aren’t allowed to, try and use any other type of lighting that’s available for the photograph.
If there is a source of light you can place your subject close to or move the light source closer to the subject, do it. Just remember not to place the light behind the subject, pointing towards the camera, unless you want to capture a silhouette effect.
5) Use the RAW mode
If you take the photos in the RAW mode you’ll have a wider range of post-processing choices. When post-processing in RAW, you can usually lighten up an image between 2-3 f-stops.
6) Adjust the white balance
Low-light photos can often appear to be washed out and not very detailed.
They can also have a colored tinge to them, such as blue, orange, or yellow. If you adjust the white balance it will let the camera know what it should recognize as white.
This will help the camera capture true colors. An alternative to adjusting the white balance is to shoot in black and white.
7) Try a faster lens
As mentioned right off the bat, a faster lens will help out because they have lower apertures, such as f/1.4 and f/1.8 etc.
These aperture settings will allow more light to reach the sensor and you can then speed up your shutter speed if you’re shooting moving objects.
If you’re serious about photography, we suggest you save up to by a fast lens. It’s essential to your kit!
8) Photo-editing software
Don’t be afraid to use some type of photo-editing program to help improve your low-light shots.
This can help eliminate some noise of present because of a higher ISO. You can also convert the photos to black and white here as well as adjust the brightness, sharpness, contrast, highlights, and shadows and so on.
9) Experiment and experiment some more
Don’t get frustrated if your photos are not coming out how you want in low light situations.
Every setting is different and as a photographer you will need to experiment quite a bit to get the right balance of ISO, shutter speed, and aperture settings under different low light conditions.
Consider every low light situation a great learning experience!
We hope you enjoyed these low light photography lighting tips. Now that you’re finished reading, leave a comment below telling us which tips was your favorite and share any experiences you’ve had taking indoor photos.
Then, check out our related posts to learn even more ways to improve your photography.