Thursday, June 23

Photo Tip Thursday | How to Shoot in Low Light, a lesson on aperture

Good morning darling.

For today's photo tip thursday I'm going to answer a question Joana asked me last week! She writes:

I was wondering how you take pictures when you have little lighting. I was in a concert a while back and since I barely started to take pictures I am not as confident with the camera. However, there was very little lighting and since I did not want to use flash I had to slow by shutter speed and increase my ISO. Is there a way to get good quality without using flash?? Thank You!!!

Dear Joana,

Sounds like you already understand the basics by slowing down your shutter speed and increasing your ISO! Way to go! A lot depends on the lens + camera body in your hands. What lens are you shooting with?

Speaking of lenses, maybe you've heard photographers say "it's all about the glass". What they mean is, it really is all about the LENS. Unfortunately a lot of the lenses that come in kits with camera bodies are crap. A lens for example, 18-55 f/4 means you can only open up your aperture to a f stop/4. That is almost worth nothing. The image above, Johnny shot with no flash on f/1.8 iso 400.

QUICK LESSON: F/8 means the lens is open to an aperture of 8. Each lens has a number on the side. That is the widest aperture that the lens can be opened to. It's not intuitive at all, but the wider you open up your aperture to let more light in, the lower the f/stop #. So if you're shooting in a room that's dark on f/8 you'd want to stop DOWN to a F/2.8 to open up your aperture, if your lens will allow it.

To put things into perspective, all pro lenses open up the minimum of 2.8, in general. Some even open as wide as f/1.2! Those lenses are not cheap. Widening your aperture will do a couple of things:

#1) Let more light in! That's what you want!
#2) Create a more shallow depth of field, so put one thing in focus and another out of focus (as opposed to everything thats in your frame being in focus)

Do you own a 50mm f/1.8? That is the most bang for your buck! It's about $100. I've shot entire weddings on that lens. It's beautiful because you can still shoot at a relatively low ISO but let a lot of light in by lowering your aperture.

Now we've spent so long on lenses, what camera body do you have? We shoot with a d700. That is a full frame sensore camera, in other words, expensive but INCREDIBLE low light capability. We can shoot on an ISO 3200 and even though the image is grainy, it's definitely usable! Fortunately with time, even cameras on the iphone are shooting better in low light. When we first started our business we had d70s and they looked horrible in low light! Even on ISO 800 the images were so grainy some were not usable, in my opinion.

Outside of your equipment what can you do in low light situations? Have you tried bouncing flash? You could point your flash either up or to the side if you're next to a wall and see what kind of lighting you get! OR find out from what direction your light is coming from, turn your flash off, especially at a concert and just keep moving until you can fill your frame with all of those strobing, moving lights.

Lastly, in my honest opinion, I would avoid two things like the plague:
#1) a kit lens
#2) a non-brand specific lens, like Tamron, for example.

Lenses are investments. If you're going to be a photographer, invest because if you take care of those lenses they will be work horses and last you for EVER. If you own a Nikon, buy Nikon. If you own a Canon, buy Canon. There's a reason those other brands are cheaper.

Hope this helped? If any other photogs have anything else to contribute, please do! If you have any other questions, ask away!

ciao bella,

1 comment:

joana_mty said...

Wow! Thank you so much for replying to my desperate cry! Yes, I have those cheap kits lenses. However, I am planning on buying new lenses, but did not know which one. Now I can figure out which one to buy. Thank you so much for all your help!