Shedding Some Light on Low Light Photography

Low Light photography of a sunset
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Autumn is well and truly upon us! The temperatures are dropping and evenings feel like they’re getting darker and darker by the day. It may feel gloomier outside, but this is the perfect time of year to experiment with your photos and develop your skills. Find out how to photograph in low light and then put it into practice with some of our favourite shots you should try.

Low light photography depicting boy with birthday cake

Low Light Photography Settings

Set up your camera for success! Using the low light camera settings below, you’ll be taking stunning low light photography in no time.

Aperture

Aperture controls the amount of light that enters your camera. The wider it is, the more light can enter (and in darker conditions we need all the light we can get!) The lower the number, the wider the aperture. If you’re new to low light photography, set your camera to aperture priority mode. With this, you just have to change the aperture, and the camera will sort out the other settings. As you get more comfortable, turn it off to take full control of all the settings for yourself.

Low light photography tip : Widening your aperture can create some stunning effects, such as blurring the background – perfect for showcasing as a canvas print.

ISO

The higher the ISO, the more light your camera can see. But be warned – higher ISO can result in more digital noise in the photo, making it look grainy and a bit messy. Some cameras work better with a higher ISO than others, so getting the right setting can be about knowing your camera and what it can do. Take a few practice shots with different levels until you get it right.

Low light photography tip: You shouldn’t need to put the ISO above 1600. If you find you need extra light, try using an external flash.

photographing indoors

Shutter Speed

To avoid blurry images, shoot with a faster shutter speed. But this doesn’t come without drawbacks. With a slower shutter speed, more light enters the camera, so you may find that your low light photography is still too dark. There are benefits to using both fast and slow shutter speeds – it just depends on the type of photo you’re after.

Low light photography tip: When you use a slow shutter speed, take photos with a steady tripod.

Flash

Your flash adds extra light when you need it most, but often built-in and pop-up flashes add quite harsh light onto your subjects. Use an external flash and a diffuser to soften the light. Don’t have a diffuser? You can try bouncing the light off walls or ceilings. Another option is to use a torch, keeping the light on your subject for longer, for a perfect set up!

Low light photography tip: The flash doesn’t have to come from your camera! Think about investing in a wireless camera flash, where you can shine a light on your subject from different angles.

Low light photography ideas

Knowing how to photograph in low light is only the first part – you’ll need some subject matter. If you need a little inspiration, here are a few ideas and times you might need to photograph in low light:

  • Indoor shots: Away from windows, it’s amazing how dark photos can become.
  • Sunrise and sunsets: Capture the stunning deep blue colours in the sky. And the bigger the moon, the better.
  • Light trails: Slow down your shutter speed and let the light trails flow.
  • Emphasise brightness: Capture small bits of brightness surrounded by a dark backdrop.
  • Black and white portraits: Combining monochrome with low levels of light gives your photos a wonderfully moody feel.
  • Focus on the details: Opt for a shallow depth of field to blur your background, perfect for focusing on small details in the foreground.
how to photograph in low light scenery

We know that getting stunning low light photos is tricky. Whatever you decide to capture, sticking to the settings above will help you get the perfect shot. And when you do? Why not preserve it forever in your own photo book?


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