As any photographer would know, it’s important to be versatile. Not only with one’s style of photography, but for the conditions with which they work. This includes low light conditions, which may be attributable to shooting: outdoors at night, indoors, or where there are varying sources of low–intensity light on offer. What’s more, low light photography skills are necessary for a variety of photographers, including those working with portraits, weddings and landscapes.
Of course, a flash would appear a logical solution to deal with low light conditions. However, it’s not necessarily a fix that works in every situation. You see, a flash device, particularly when integrated into a camera, can sometimes result in a flat looking picture by compressing image depth. There are also the complications that come with a flash being distracting to the subject of a photo, as well as the potential need to set up and configure dedicated flash devices when shooting spontaneously.
While modern cameras may even include exposure settings, these shouldn’t be exclusively relied upon compared with manual adjustments. Not to mention, it always helps to be technically proficient rather than rely on a computer to pick what’s best.
There’s somewhat of a juggling act when it comes to adjusting the ISO on your camera, as it will invariably introduce more noise into the photo. Increasing the ISO setting will correspond with a proportional increase in light that is detected and processed by the camera. Adjusting the ISO on some cameras may also influence colouring. This often leads photographers to use this method with black and white shots, or for ‘creative’ pieces of work.
In any case, noise reduction software and editing programs may be used to compensate for these flaws. Working with a low ISO setting, it’s paramount to stabilise your camera. If you cannot do this and encounter blur, your next step is to gradually increase the shutter speed (and in turn the ISO, since the two are aligned).
When one widens the aperture – the same as decreasing the f–number – more light may pass through the camera lens. Even a small difference in the aperture size can result in a considerable difference in light levels. With this phenomenon however, photographers need to exercise care to ensure field depth does not become compressed, nor that focus is lost across a wide focal point. In such circumstances, you may need to slow the shutter speed, or revert it back to a narrower aperture but with a higher ISO. As is usually the case, a lens with vibration reduction or image stabilisation is beneficial here.
Another crucial piece of the puzzle, light will pass through the lens in accordance with the shutter speed you have set. Set it too fast, and not enough light will be able to enter. On the contrary, if the speed is too low, it increases the chance you will end up with blurry shots. This is exacerbated if the setting you are shooting is a dynamic scene, but may be mitigated through a tripod, remote shutter release, or a correct bracing stance. In some instances, it may be wiser to concentrate on getting the focus right and using artificial light by means of a flashlight, which can be deflected onto the subject to soften its impact and avoid shadows.