February 2012
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Tips and techniques for taking photos in low light (contd) ..

Continuing from the previous sets of tips on this topic of how to photograph in low light conditions.

Tip 961 (Using higher ISO): One way to deal with bad or low light conditions is to actually bump up the ISO. In modern digital cameras, there is typically a setting to control the ISO (in more automatic cameras, the ISO cannot be controlled, but there is an auto ISO setting that automatically sets the ISO level). Higher sensitivity by increasing the ISO levels allows you to get seemingly more light in a low light conditions (but the noise level will increase).

Tip 962 (Noise levels with higher ISO levels): As you increase the ISO level while taking a photo, you are able to get the benefit of being able to take brighter photos in low light conditions; and this can be incredibly useful when you are straining to get the photo in these low light conditions. One of the problems that happens in a higher ISO setting is the amount of noise levels in the photo (and hence, when you see many reviews of cameras, they also point out the noise levels at higher ISO conditions). However, many times, you just want the photo, and don’t care whether the noise levels are indeed a bit higher.

Tip 963 (Problems with using the flash): Like many other compromises, using the flash in low light conditions does allow you to get the photo. At the same time, however, people are really not satisfied with the photos that you get when you use the built-in flash of compact cameras. The built in flash provides light on the front of the subject, thereby providing an effect which compresses the depth of the subjects in the photo. This can reduce the attractiveness of the photo. In addition, when you use the flash light, the cameras adjusts its automatic setting for exposure (shutter speed and aperture) to the flash; areas of the photo frame not covered by the flash light come out pretty dark.

Tip 964 (Using the various low light scenes): Most DSLR’s don’t have them, but compact cameras have these features. If you check the various scenes or modes offered in these cameras, there will be a number of scenes / modes that offer the facility of shooting in low light conditions. For example, some of the ones that I have seen include ‘Night Mode’, ‘Fireworks mode’ and other modes that can be used in low light conditions. These set the camera controls in a way that they facilitate low light condition shooting.

Tip 965 (Getting the traffic photos using long exposures): You must have seen those photos of night traffic movement, where the lights of vehicles seem to make long flashes along the highways or streets; you cannot see the detail of a single vehicle but the image conveys motion and movement. These are images taking long exposures, in some cases, the images are shot using a time period of 5-10 seconds. You will need to hold your camera still while taking such an image, so holding it in the hand is just not possible. Use a tripod or put the camera on some still object.

More tips (link)

The Low Light Photography Field Guide: The essential guide to getting perfect images in challenging light Night and Low-Light Photography Photo Workshop The Complete Guide to Digital Night & Low-Light Photography

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