Utilizing The Shadows / by Doctor Awkward

My  love for low light photography is bottomless! The mood a picture can bring when you have a black curtain of light wrapping your subjects face cant compare. Seeing stability fenced in by chaos is what I strive to capture. Now I wouldn't consider low light photography by any means technical, but I will say you should know the basic functions on your camera and lens to adjust the shot for when the shadows approach. There are three key ingredients for creating low light photos; mine would be to keep the ISO low (no noise), use a small aperture (prime lens work best), and slow shutter speed. The reason I'm confessing my love for the dark is to help you fall in love too. And we all know with love there will be times of frustration, but the pay-off is a feeling you can’t attach an adjective to. 

Let’s start with the ISO. Depending on your cameras capabilities, you’ll want to keep your ISO low enough so that you are not seeing ‘noise’ in your photograph. I would suggest testing this by going to the highest ISO on your camera and taking a photo. From that point, lower the ISO until there is little to no noise in the photo. I advise you to save that number for later because that will be your ISO threshold that you should set your camera to when lurking in the dark. 

Now that we have our ISO setting saved, we need to take a look at our lens. What’s the aperture? If you don’t know what “aperture” is, I suggest you consult Google or Youtube. Set the camera to the lowest aperture (mine is 1.8 on my 35mm). The only catch here is that when shooting 1.8, the depth of field is deep-seated, so you’ll have to be picky with what you want to sacrifice to create the photo. However I'm pretty handy with the manual shooting so I can isolate my style to the situation. 2.8 should be ok but anything higher than that you have to turn up the ISO or slow the shutter. 

Now to cover the shutter speed. It’s simple: the faster the shutter speed, the darker the image. It is also used to freeze fast-moving objects. The slower the shutter speed, the brighter the image- along with blurring any fast movements. The lowest safe shutter speed you can use is 60; you can do 40 but you your nerves have to be stone cold. If you are too shaky, try leaning on the wall, the bar, or even on your friend. Any rapid movements when using a slow shutter will be blurry when captured. That includes shaky hands.

Low light shooting is a bit of give and take with your camera settings, dependent on the grade of darkness. It will take time and effort to fall in love with the dark, but you have to have fun and enjoy it. Go walking at night and use your surroundings and try to capture the shadows. Push your camera to the limits, use a higher ISO for some grain or slow shutter for blurring moving objects. There are no rules to taking a photo, just have fun with what you are doing.