Low Light Photography
One of the concepts all beginners need to understand is that all your camera can do is capture light. This exercise will help you understand how your camera sees light. The easiest time to take photographs is during the daytime when light is plentiful. If you can take good photographs at night, you can take photographs at any time.
The city nightscape is a great place to begin with low light practice. Because of the low light settings as well as the lights the city adds to your photography, you have plenty to work with and learn about.
Low Light Photography Exercise
- Have a camera tripod ready.
- Wait until the sun has gone down. Inside and outside light is much lower once the sun goes down.
- Find a good place, such as the city lights in the distance, a darkened road, or anywhere to experiment.
- Turn your Flash off and set your camera up in a tripod or secure location.
- Meter the light (there may not be much but it’s there) and set shutter speed and aperture accordingly. Try your first shot with the aperture as open as possible.
What You’ll Learn
Chances are, unless you have a lens with a very wide aperture, as soon as you block out natural lighting you’ll experience camera shake and be required to use a tripod. Not only will you need a tripod to hold the camera steady but you’ll also need whatever you’re shooting to stay still in order to take a sharp photograph.
You may find in this exercise a niche that you’ll love, where the photography embraces motion in a long exposure. The stereotypes you’ve surely seen are typically of merry-go-rounds, city landscapes at night with cars making colored red and white lines down the street. Taking pictures of the city lights can be great for learning and experimenting but don’t sell your potential short.
Be more creative than that and make the ordinary extraordinary! Realize that while your camera’s shutter is open the camera is a canvas for the moving light to paint on, use that knowledge to your advantage.
Low-Light DSLR Photography (free video)
Low Light Photo Tips without a Full Sized Tripod (free video)
You’ll find that if you get the exposure right you can shoot a picture in the daytime and then shoot the same shot with a long exposure and the colors will be different. This is because sunlight casts a different white balance than the moonlight, streetlights, city lights, etc.