How to take sharp photos in low light

How to take sharp photos in low light

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Photo by Ruiyang Zhang from Pexels

It is said that taking sharp and noise-free photos in low light is one of the challenging tasks in photography. If you want to click some landscapes at night- you have to keep many other factors, including shutter speed, ISO, and aperture.

Taking photos in dark or low light consists of multiple challenges for your DSLR. Your DSLR or any other camera has a sensor that needs a fair amount of light to create an image. You can find the auto mode on the camera to give the camera’s sensor enough light and create a balanced exposure. You have to maintain a slow shutter speed that ensures more light to enter the sensor for this situation. 

Unfortunately, you will only get a blurry image than which is not accepted. In this article, we will talk about How to take sharp photos in low light and also give you some excellent and most straightforward tips to click images in a softer light.  

Before talking about the shooting in low light- you must have a basic knowledge about the exposure triangle and its influence on an image mentioned in the previous article.  

What does low light photography mean? 

  • There are various kinds of light sources- higher to blurrier. You can find dark places in day time also. It is more difficult to capture images in low light, such as shadows of the higher building. 
  • If you want to click sunset landscapes- it is also an example of low light. 
  • The dark light meaning when only bright objects are visible at night.

What is motion blur?

It is tough to click blurry images in low light, and the result is motion blur. Motion blur is an effect that occurs when the camera wants to capture moving objects. Blurry images mainly happen when the object or the subject is moving randomly, or the camera moves faster than the item.    

Photo by Simon Migaj from Pexels

According to many photographers, motion blur doesn’t have any negative impact on photography. It is widely used during the shooting of films where speed, action, or movement of the subject matter the most. But it is difficult to get a sharp and excellent image, and it becomes blurry. If you think editing will help you, it’s needless to say that editing won’t help. So, you have to click it correctly on camera.  

How to enhance low light photography with settings.

Take manual mode seriously

Auto mode has lots of restrictions, and you can’t explore much when you choose the auto mode for shooting due to its limitations. Manual mode controls your photography by setting shutter speed, ISO, and aperture and creating a balance automatically. Being a photographer, you should control the factors and decide how you will click the image, and only then can you get the sharp and desirable photos. If the camera is in auto mode, it can’t sense whether it is a moving object or static. For instance, when you want sharpness on your image in low light, you must control aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. 

Adjusting shutter speed according to moving objects 

If you want full exposure in low light, you need to look after whether enough light hits the camera’s sensor or not. In fast shutter speed, moments look frizzed, but the images look underexposed. A slower shutter makes a blurry image. That’s why taking control over shutter speed is a vital factor when you shoot moving objects in low light. 

Best shutter speed to use in low light

Shutter speed depends on the situation, speed of the object, and focal length. When the focal length is under 85 mm, and the camera is on hand, the preferable shutter point is 1/120s. The minimum shutter speed is 1/60s. This shutter speed is applicable when you shoot a static object or people’s random laughter or movements etc. 

When it comes to moving faster like dancing, running, driving- you should increase the shutter speed from 1/200s to 1/400s.

Aperture setting 

Is f2.8 suitable for low light? This is a very common query. The aperture setting is the next lowest light photography setting.

Aperture makes double the light entering the lens like clicking at f2.8 allows double light as f/4. So, you have to amplify the aperture as much as possible in low light situations.  

ISO setting 

There are some situational points where you need to raise your ISO to create low light photography. 

  1. When If you open your aperture as wide as possible
  2. When the depth of field becomes narrow, and the object or scene goes out of your focus

Raising ISO has some negative aspects, like it creates noise to the image, but most modern DSLRs can capture the image at higher ISO like 1600. 

When the shutter speed is slow, the minimum noise is better than a blurry image. So, keep it in your mind to increase the ISO. 

Position of the camera 

Camera shake is one of the crucial factors in low light photography. Low light setting in camera shake when the shutter is open makes blur images. 

Of course you will try your best to fix and stabilize your hands (without a tripod), it is hard to keep the camera in the same position in low light as you are clicking the image at low shutter speed. 

If you are shooting static subjects or objects or at longer focal lengths, the camera’s sensor will capture the small movements. Even it is noticed that pressing the shutter can cause certain blurriness in the image.  

So, what is the prevention you should take while the camera shakes?

If you are a beginner, you should hold your camera properly. If you keep your camera steadily, it will make a huge difference in your photography. 

Firmly hand holding will also help you to capture motion blur images in lower or dim light. Many professionals can’t hold the camera due to some reason. If you are shooting in low light, here are some advice:

  1. Using a monopod or tripod. You can easily get any affordable tripod online. 
  2. Steady yourself while capturing images or stand your camera against any stable surface like a table, wall, etc. 
  3. Hold the camera lying your elbows on the solid surface.  
  4. Using shutter release cable and mirror lock-up mode while using tripods.

Low light photography without flash

Many people use flash while taking pictures at night and in dim light, but flash is not needed every time. Even most people don’t like to use flash though flashlight creates an amazing coloring effect on the image.  

There are many saturations when the flash is not required and allowed.   

  1. Flash may not be allowed in many prestigious venues such as seminars, sporting stadiums, etc. 
  2. Flashlights are distracting to showbiz people 
  3. If multiple photographers click photos, then flash can ruin the exposure, so be careful while using flash. 

On-camera flash doesn’t bring the natural light on the image, and it doesn’t help in post-processing of the image. 

Flash is not very effective in an ambient light environment. 

If you are doing wildlife photography, a flashlight is harmful to nocturnal animals, and they are mostly scared of those lights.  

how to take sharp photo in low light
Photo by JESSICA TICOZZELLI from Pexels

Some other tips which help you to click better images in low light 

  • Image stabilization and shutter speed 
  • Image stabilization works amazingly when you are clicking images in the dark, and 1/30 th second is not enough to capture the image but keeping slower creates a blurry vision. 
  • DSLRs like Nikon and Canon manufacture lenses that can reduce camera shake. Not all lenses have this feature, but most kit lenses come with it.
  • Image stabilization is an effective solution. It allows up to 4.5 stops of compensation, and you can click the exposed images at 1/15 th of a second without creating motion blur. 
  • Choosing a lens is one of the vital factors when it comes to achieving maximum aperture.
  • Go for the widest apertures to capture images in lower light. At f/1.4 can give you four times much brighter pictures like f/2.8.  
  • Zoom lenses, which come along with the camera, have the limitation of f/3.5-f/5.6 for maximum aperture. But you will find a maximum aperture of f/2.8 at any professional zoom lens. 
  • Using a large sensor camera is a great idea to capture an image at lower light as it creates more light. 
  • The sensor captures the detailing of your exposed image. For this reason, you need a large camera sensor to get high-quality images and resolution.
  • It is needless to say that modern smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras have the smallest sensors. Full sensor APS-C is a widespread name which you can find mostly in DSLRs. In a professional camera, you will get the full-frame sensor. 

Best camera for low light photography?

If you are wondering which camera you should buy for low light photography- the simple answer is a full-frame camera with a wide aperture such as the Canon 5D Mark IV. It is significant because of its large sensor size and increased ISO. 

  • Shooting RAW is the best idea as the post-processing can be more comfortable and more flexible for you. 
  • The most significant reason is that it adds 2/3 stops or more to exposure without disturbing the image file’s quality.
  • Sometimes it is difficult to auto-focus when it is too dark. For this, you need AF to assist. It will help you auto-focus in lower light situations. 
  • Modern-day DSLR has AF assist option, and you will get the AF assist lamp in front of your DSLR. When you are going to click an image in the dark, it starts illuminating. You can half-press the shutter, and it will automatically turn on. 
  • You can use flashes for light painting photography. The colors look vibrant, amazing, and unique. 

These are some typical solutions that are effective in low lit photography. If you follow these steps and factors- you can easily capture breathtaking nightscapes in low light. To know various kinds of lighting effects- you should practice more often. You can start with street photography at night as it is easily eye-catching. Nightclub photography and fairy light photography are two popular examples of low light photography.      

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