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as most photographers know, light is key to getting a good image. we all crave that beautiful golden light at sunset, or even the amazing diffused light on a cloudy day. but life doesn’t always happen during these perfect scenarios, does it? sometimes we want to capture our kids all snuggled in bed together on Christmas Eve as they anticipate Santa. maybe you get asked to shoot a wedding in a dark church. sometimes one of our child’s “firsts” happens after the sun has gone down…
(Zach’s 1st snow)
ISO 2000, f/2.8, 1/60
whatever the case may be, here are 3 quick tips for taking better photos in low light!
1. Turn off the Flash – most people immediately think they must turn on the flash because there isn’t enough light. flash has a time and place, but it’s become a crutch for most of us. not only will the flash distract the subject you are trying to capture, potentially ruining the moment, but it also just makes images look icky. it alters the color and skin tones, and just has a certain unappealing look. what is your other option if you turn off the flash? one suggestion is to increase your ISO. in the old days (haha) you would buy 800 speed film and higher for low-light situations. most digital cameras can be pushed to higher ISO settings without too much “grain” or noise nowadays. there are other things you can do as well, such as decreasing your shutter speed, but you will need to watch out for blur! in fact, i teach all about this in my Confidence Photography Workshop! (shameless plug)
2. Fast Glass – this is a term often used when talking about cameras with really wide apertures. one of my favorite lenses in my Canon 50mm f/1.2. with such a low aperture, i can let in a LOT of light without having to crank up my ISO or lower my shutter speed so much that i need a tripod. i especially love this lens for weddings, as i’m often required to shoot in low light situations. another, more affordable lens option that’s very “fast” is what people often refer to as the “nifty fifty”. you can get the Canon 50mm f/1.8 for a fraction of the cost, and it’s an amazing lens!
ISO 1600, f/1.8, 1/100
3. Convert the Image to Black & White – there’s always something timeless and classic about a black & white photo. and sometimes what doesn’t look good in color because of the increased noise or “grain” or poor color due to low-light, can look stunning and dramatic as a black and white image. i personally love how black and white images immediately draw your attention to your subject and the composition of your shot, as well.
ISO 800, f/1.8, 1/100
please feel free to add some of your favorite tips in the comments below!