Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Photo Tips Series - Low Light Shooting

Be sure to check out the giveaway that Adrianne and I are sharing over at Happy Hour Projects.  This week I made a pearl and lace necklace to give away at her place and next week, Adrianne will share her talents over here.  Stay tuned.

I think that many bloggers find themselves finishing up their creative projects well after the sun goes down.  Natural light has been in bed for several hours and our photos turn out crappy.  Too yellow, too dark, too fuzzy. (or is that just me?)

And then, there's the dreaded flash photo.  Red eye or just plain over exposed, ugly.

f/4.9, 1/8, 800ISO (this one could have used white balance adjustment!)

With Christmas right around the corner (sorry, it's true), it is even more important for us all to learn how to take better shots.  So, how to take better photos then?

A couple of things you can do easily:

- Increase your ISO.  I go as high as 1600ISO if it's dark out and I'm in my office which has the worst light ever.

- Open up your aperture.  The lowest number gives you the widest lens opening and the most light.

- Slow down your shutter speed.  This will allow the light to have more time to filter in.

- Use a tripod.  If your shutter speed has to get really low, your hand will likely shake the camera so you need a tripod to be steady.  Sometimes you can get away with setting the camera on a hard, steady surface (like a table) and shooting that way.

- Bring in other light sources.  Flashlights, desk lamps, standing lamps, whatever you've got, bring it close to what you're trying to photograph and check for bad shadows before you snap that photo.

- Use a light box.  These things are awesome for reflecting and adding some light.  I have an easy tutorial, but photography sites have more complicated versions as - well that you can make.

- Set your white balance. (more on this in two weeks).  You need to know what type of light you're shooting in, and then set your white balance accordingly.

- Increase your exposure compensation.  This can make your photos appear brighter. (more on this next week).
    Here is a much nicer shot - crisp and bright, with good colour:

    f/5, 1/50, 1600ISO

    These tips are a good start to taking better indoor photos.  I hope you have some success with them.  If you have any specific questions about indoor shooting (or anything else), please don't hesitate to ask me.  I'll see if I can find an answer.


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    Adrianne Surian said...

    I have a question - what about positioning your subject to avoid the shadows? Do you have a particular position/angle you tend to use so your shadows don't end up in the photos? Because mine always do, LOL.

    Little City Farm said...

    That is a great question, Adrianne. If you are able to get strong enough lights going all the way around your piece, then you won't have those pesky shadows. I am still saving my pennies for that kind of light, ha ha, so my shots still have shadows too.

    I try to make sure that I don't cause a shadow myself by getting between the piece and the light source (done it many times when trying to get in too close) and also I like to make sure that something weird isn't casting an ugly shadow. For example, the windows in our house have those decorative white criss-cross pieces so they always cast an ugly criss-cross pattern shadow if I get too close to the natural light.

    I think that if you don't have enough lights around your piece you will always have a shadow of some sort, so just experiment to see where it looks the best.

    Hope that answers your question. :)

    Unknown said...

    This is so helpful! I often have to wait until the next day to take a photo because it has long since been dark. Next time I will try your tricks and see how they turn out.

    Macey said...

    I need a tripod for when I'm using slow shutter speed...

    Yvonne@StyleBurb said...

    I love these tips! I struggle with low light- it's my enemy.

    I think I just need some more patience and a bit more time to set up the tripod to take some decent pics

    I'll going to ask for some patience for Christmas.

    Yvonne@StyleBurb said...

    ... make that "I'm". I also need to proofread. lol

    Sherry said...

    Terry, thanks so much for the tips!

    Rosemary@villabarnes said...

    Great tips Terry. Yes, extra light definitely helps. I find myself dragging lamps from all over the house toward my subject. If I could balance one on my head, I would.

    Gathered In The Kitchen said...

    Thanks for the great tips Terry!! I'm definitely going to put these into practice when I'm making dinner and snapping photos each night!

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