When we hear of low light photography, most of us think it is about taking pictures at night. It does include night photography but is not all about it. You see, the human eye and brain enable us to adjust to the light conditions of a place unlike the camera sensor. So, conditions you would think are bright or normal, the camera might be considering them as low light conditions.
We can put this low light conditions in three categories, that is:
- Visible– This is is a place where there is low light but it is still visible to the camera, e.g. behind buildings, in shadows or shade.
- Low light– This is a situation where there is light but not as bright, e.g. after sunset, indoors.
- Dark– This is a situation where there is darkness that only bright objects are visible.
In low light conditions, you can either increase or create light yourself or adjust your camera settings to suit your photo.
To increase or create light:
1. Find your light– When taking photos in low light, start by finding the right light. This goes with knowing how you want your shot to appear. For example, in a portrait shot you would want your subject lit from behind to distinguish from the background thus you find the right light for it. Or from the front to highlight their features.
2. Camera flash– The flash can be a source of light but it has a problem in that it flattens the image. This happens as it lights the subject on the front only which compresses its depth. But if you have no other option, you might as well use it.
3. External light sources– Sometimes you can bring in external light sources like lamps, bulbs, candles etc to increase your light. This in itself can create an appealing shot.
To adjust your camera settings to suit your shots:
1. Increase your ISO– ISO is a number that indicates the sensitivity of your camera to light. The more you increase it, the more sensitive your camera becomes to the light.enabling it to capture bright images even in low light. This makes the images risk to having digital noise.
2. Get your focus right– Smart phones mostly work on auto focus. It however has a problem in finding the right object or subject to focus on while taking pictures in low light. As such, make sure to try out your manual focus whenever you can and check to see if you got the focus right.
3. Slow shutter speed– The shutter speed is mostly automatic in most smart phones but some allow you to adjust it manually to your liking. Shutter speed simply refers to the length of time it will take for the camera shutter to stay open to capture an image. In low light it is best to slow it in order to allow more light into your camera. It is however highly susceptible to blur with even a little shake of the camera thus calling for high stability.
–Be stable– Stability is key in all kinds of photography more so in low light. It helps to eliminate the shake or blur in your shot to ensure a clear image, especially when you lower your shutter speed.
–Position your object closer to the light source– Unless you are going for a silhouette, the subject of your shot should be well lit. Especially for portrait shots, you ensure the subject is visible by placing them near the light source in a low light situation.
The number one rule of Photography is that there is no rule. It is an art and all you have to do is channel creativity and knowledge to get the photo most appealing to you.