Great shots can be taken in low light conditions, even without using a tripod if you know what you are doing. However, most photographers find it challenging to take photos in low light conditions. A lot of photographers will probably tell you that they feel more comfortable working in outdoors and when the sun is out. Low light conditions doesn't necessary mean taking photos at night; there are many situations where you can find yourself in an environment where your eyes may be able to adjust to lower light easily but your camera has trouble seeing as well as you do.
Wherever you found yourself as a photographer, taking photos in low light condition doesn't have to be tricky. In fact, I often wonder how little are known about low light photography and how many images are ruined when the environment is very dark. Most photographers often think that this problem can easily be solved with expensive camera. Not at all! Expensive cameras can't help you if you don't know how to shoot in low light conditions.
Not to worry, in this article, you will learn simple solutions professional photographers are using to take great photos in low light places.
Understand the Need for Light
Light is very important for a great photo. Almost everyone can take perfect photos when there is adequate lighting. But this is not usually the case in low light conditions like indoors. Taking a shot when the light is dimmed will most likely result in a fuzzy and poor picture.
The problem here is that your camera is getting too little light. You need more light to get the perfect photo. If you are like most people, the first think you do is to activate the pop-up flash unit and bam! You have more light and better picture.
However, when the flash goes off, you'll notice that your subject is harshly lit. You will need to do something to avoid the jarring harshness of the flash. You will need to think of a better way to get more light into your camera and capture clearer photos.
Below are some tips to get more light into your camera:
1. Increase Your ISO
ISO is simply a measure of the sensitivity of your digital camera to light. If you have a low ISO value, say 100, it means that your camera sensor is not very sensitive to light; this ISO value is suitable for bright conditions. When faced with low light conditions, you will need to increase your ISO to a level such as 800 or 1600 in order to make sure that sensor is getting adequate light for the right exposure.
But there is a little problem! In most cases, noise is introduced into the image when you increase the ISO. The noise may appear as grain across the photo or as speckles. This noise can be reduced with noise reduction software such as Adobe Lightroom, Neat Image or Photo Ninja.
2. Use Wide Apertures
Opening up the aperture of the lens of your camera to its widest value will help you gather more light. This is perfect when you want to take great indoor photos in low light conditions without using flash. You must have wide apertures such as f/1.8 or f/1.4. Most dSLR will only stop down to f/3.5 or thereabouts. Lenses with aperture that can get as wide as f/1.4 are often prime lenses such as 50mm.
Opening up your aperture wide will help you gather more light into the camera and give you faster shutter speeds without the need to max our your ISO or getting images with a lot of noise. Note that you will not be able to set aperture value if you use smartphones as they come with fixed apertures.
3. Find Stabilization
Shooting in low light condition without a tripod to achieve stabilization can be a pain in the ass. The solution to this is to turn on the image stabilization on the lens or in the camera body. On the other hand, you can find a suitable surface to rest the camera on top. This surface will serve as a makeshift tripod.
If you are taking longer exposures, you may use the camera's remote control or the self-timer option to avoid any shake introduced by physically pressing the shutter button.
4. Shoot Raw Format
You can reduce noise if you are working with a RAW format file. If you are wondering what a raw image is, it is a photo produced by a camera before you apply any processing on it. Shooting in this format (Raw mode) will help you to capture maximum detail in your digital shot. Another benefit of shooting in raw mode is that you will have more latitude to process the image in any way you choose after it has been taken. For instance, if the image is underexposed, you can bring back details. Without a doubt, raw format is useful for low light photography.
Using these techniques mentioned above will help you achieve some stability and take great photos when working in low light conditions without a tripod. Combining the techniques mentioned above will definitely increase your chances of a good shot.