As you know, photography is all about light. Perfect lighting conditions contribute greatly to a good photo. We don’t always have those conditions though. What to do then, when the light is poor? Read on.
There are occasions when the available light is less than ideal. Typical examples are live shows, such as music, theatre, and dance, and also almost all indoor situations.
Here are the four things you can do to get the best image possible.
Open your aperture
As I have discussed before, aperture controls how much light enters the camera. The wider the aperture, the more light you will have. So, set your camera to the highest aperture your lens allows (this corresponds to a lower number, don’t get confused).
ISO controls the sensitivity of your image sensor to light. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive it will be. A higher ISO will allow you to get a better exposed picture in low light. Remember there is a price to pay: The higher you set the ISO, the more visual noise you will see in the images. This can be corrected to an extent in post-production, but don’t overdo it.
Shoot in RAW
RAW is like the digital negative of your image. It is an uncompressed file with all the captured information available. It is the picture as the camera saw it, and it is the most flexible if you want to enhance it in post-production. As the file retains all the information, you will be able to change exposure and white balance later, much easier than if you were working with a JPG file.
Steady your camera
In the example of a live show, you may not be able to use a tripod, which would be ideal. In this case, try to steady your camera as best as you can, using your body, leaning against a wall, or placing the camera on a flat surface if at all possible. If you can, choose a lens with Image Stabilization, a system that allows you to photograph at lower shutter speeds with less camera shake.
- Use the fastest lens you have (the one that allows a wider aperture)
- Set the camera to Aperture Priority Mode (Av)
- Set the aperture to the widest possible
- Take a test shot
- If the image is blurry, the shutter speed may be too low, so set the ISO higher and test again, until you get a clear image
As you can see, it takes some experimentation, so don’t be afraid to get some bad images in the beginning. You will improve soon.
What is your biggest challenge photographing in low light? Let me know in the comments and let’s chat.