With fall here and winter fast approaching as well, the sun sets earlier in the day and most of us will be confined to shooting indoors. Whether you are shooting during the day or in the evening after the sunset, adapting and embracing shooting in low light will be beneficial to help you continue working on your photography skills and other personal photo projects.
If you are like me and work all day and come home in the evening to pick up your camera, you may be further limited to shooting right around sunset or utilizing artificial light sources only.
There was a time not long ago when I used to hate photographing my kids in low light. I was nervous about increasing the ISO and adding noise in my images or worried about reducing the shutter speed and causing camera shake. But slowly over time, I started to get used to working with various light sources around me creatively and utilizing them in my images.
If you are new to shooting in low light, here are some simple tips that could be helpful without the fear of shooting indoors in low light or using artificial light.
1. Shoot wide open and/or use a slow shutter speed
Although this may not be the best solution all the time with multiple people in the image indoors; but shooting wide open (as much as your camera allows) helps you get more light in the image. Making sure your focal points are aligned on the subject where they need to be, this could help you with that low light shooting you are struggling with.
Another option would be to consider using a slow shutter speed. A shutter speed of 1/200th or slower to 1/100th doesn’t always produce camera shake when handheld and lets more light in as well. There’s always the option of using a tripod, however, keep in mind that this may not be feasible when photographing kids in action.
2. Crank up that ISO and embrace noise
Having a camera with low light capabilities sounds great. However, if you are on a budget and need to work with what you have, consider cranking up your ISO as high as you can after adjusting your shutter speed and aperture.
Consider embracing the noise or grain produced and using it in your images creatively. Converting an image to black and white during post-processing also helps hide any yellow light indoors you may have from artificial sources after hours.
Consider using alternate artificial light sources such as an iPad light, refrigerator light, desk lamp, etc., for extra creativity.
3. Find pockets of light
Open up windows, blinds, and curtains. Pockets of light and shadows add to the drama and create depth.
Once you get home from work in the evening, look around to find any little pockets of light that you can use. This may be right around the golden hour (one hour prior to sunset) and you will find some amazing light peeking through the windows if you time it just right. Utilizing this light will produce some amazing shadows and you can create some moody images as well.
4. Dust off your flash and practice using it
When all else fails and I need to turn my lights on after hours, I rely on my Yongnuo flash unit and simply bounce it off the nearby walls. A lot of times I hear from other photographers (who limit themselves from shooting indoors during evening hours) that using flash is really complicated. I set my flash unit on ETTL and power it accordingly to get more or less light in the image based on how many artificial light sources I have turned on in the room.
In conclusion, all of the tips above are not always an either/or situation. Most of them can be used together such as combining a slow shutter speed along with increasing the ISO while shooting in a pocket of light with the blinds open when you really have those corner rooms with less light!
While doing the above and balancing your exposure creatively, you can create moody images with some drama. In summary, shooting in low light or the use of artificial light doesn’t have to be that intimidating. Give it a trying show us what you come up with in the comments below.