We very often come across low light situations that make taking great shots challenging and in this article we’ll discuss a few photography tips for low light environments.
We can face poorly lit environments both inside and out. Typically when we take photos indoors, we’re dealing with very low levels of ambient lighting. Outdoors, we can experience this predicament due to the time of day, or environmental factors that may obstruct the sun such as when we’re shooting in canyons or forests. As you’ll see here, most of the photography tips for dealing with low levels of lighting focus on equipment-centered adjustments.
Increase shutter speeds
This may seem obvious, but it’s worth noting. You should bump up the shutter speed of your camera to avoid blur in low lighting situations. As a general rule of thumb, stick with a minimum 1/200th of a second or 1/250. If you’re using a wide-angle lens, you may be able to get away with 1/50, however, you’ll want to test this to determine if the speed is sufficient enough to eliminate any blur.
Place your camera on a tripod
One of the simplest photography tips for capturing sharp images within low light environments is to employ a tripod. By ensuring steady placement of your camera, you’ll also help to eliminate blur caused by movement of your hand. My personal favorite tripod is not a particularly expensive one and does a fantastic job, the Manfrotto 055XPROB. It has been a wonderful unit for me for about 2 years now and has received great reviews. If you don’t have a tripod available or the situation doesn’t permit the use of one (I’m guessing they won’t let you throw down your tripod in St.Peter’s basilica), you may be able to get away with placing your camera on an available level surface or utilizing your camera strap. Try wrapping it below the elbow of the hand which you use to support the camera and twist it into a figure 8 shape, while gently pressing upward with the camera body and creating slight tension against the elbow.
Decrease the f/stop (aperture) setting
In low light situations, you’ll want to try to employ the lowest available aperture, or f/stop, setting that your lens will permit. This opens the aperture to its widest setting and allows the most available light to pass through the lens and shutter into the camera body itself. Many consumer level lenses will stop out at f/3.5, however, if you’re using a more expensive professional grade lens, you may be able to set the lens all the way to f/1.2.
A steady hand (or tripod) and a few small setting changes are all you need to tackle the challenges of low lighting. By employing these low-light photography tips, you’ll often be able to overcome this obstacle and take sharp images without using artificial flashes or strobes.