5 Tips for Low Light Photography

low light photography settings

Finding yourself in a situation where there is not enough light for a decent exposure could be a little intimidating at first. Compared to real life it’s much like stepping out of your comfort zone. 

Fear not, there are a number of simple ways to create great photos in low light environments. Once you have these techniques in your tool belt it will open up a whole new world of shooting opportunities.

Without further delay, let’s have a look at five tips that could really help you handle such situations as a photographer.

1. Use the ISO noise in a creative way 

ISO noise is very often considered to be a flaw, but that’s not necessarily always the case. It could also be a great creative decision and a smart way to take advantage of a low light scene you’re trying to capture. 

So how to turn the high ISO into a valuable asset? Think about the message you’re trying to get across with your photography and whether it adds up to your main idea. 

For example, imagine you’re shooting street photography. You’re past the golden hour, but there’s still some light left in the sky – use it to build visual tension, the high ISO will make your images look authentic and it will bring a little bit of the sweet

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2. Try shooting In black-and-white 

Speaking of high ISO and low light conditions, there’s another thing you could try in order to turn the defect into a treasure: try shooting in black-and-white. If the light is not really sufficient where you are now – then take advantage of the lines, shapes and textures that surround you. 

Making those elements stand out is really easy when you lack colour and other distractions. In low light conditions it’s also easy to notice abstract subjects, silhouettes or repeating patterns – go look for those!

3. Play with long exposure 

Long Exposure can really make your images look other-worldly and add a bit of a mystical feel. It’s especially suitable for landscapes – in scenes where you have moving water, a patch of evening sky with stars or even moving human figures.

Long exposure is considered any shutter speed between a few seconds up to 30 minutes or even more. If you’re willing to try this it’s necessary to have a tripod so that you can ensure that your camera will remain stable while creating the image.

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4. Let the light come in – Open your aperture 

When light is not abundant, it’s important to make sure that your camera will be able to let as much of it in as possible. You can achieve this through using wide aperture.

The problem is that not all of the lenses out there are able to accommodate a low f-number.

For example, my kit lenses for Sony Alpha 7 only have a maximum aperture of f/3.5 which is really not sufficient when you’re shooting in low light conditions. 

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5. Bring a tripod with you 

A tripod could surely turn out to be one of your best friends when it comes down to challenging lightning scenarios. 

The tripod will help you eliminate the shake of the camera which is typically caused by slower shutter speeds. If you’re aiming at non-dynamic scenes this will save your photo from blurriness. 

It can be a very handy piece of gear, especially if you’re shooting architecture, interior and landscapes.

Photo of author

Polina Raynova

Polina is a freelance photographer, always on the lookout for creating simple images with deep impact. She loves observing the details around her and giving everyday scenes and objects a touch of cinematic feel.