Nearly all the places we have lived since being married have had low light. One of these days I'll have a room with floor to ceiling windows, ha! I have had to learn how to combat low light with lots of different tips and tricks. ;) Our new place only has three windows, so I knew I would be combating low light, but I didn't let it discourage me.
Before I chat about tips I want to chat about gear. One surefire way to combat low light is by using a lens that has a low f-stop. For the photos in this post I shot with a 50mm lens which can go as low as 1.8. But here's the thing, I did not shoot with my f-stop at 1.8. I rarely shoot with it that low. Often times I'll shoot between 2.8 and 3.5. A solid lens is a great place to start, but throwing in a few tips and tricks will get you even closer.
USE A TRIPOD
The biggest way I combat low light is by using a tripod. It's actually my one surefire way to get enough light in frame. I set up my props, position my tripod, turn on the timer and I'm good to go. The first photo in this post is a great example. My f-stop was 3.5 and my exposure 1/3. The reason I turn on my timer when shooting with a tripod is because sometimes my shutter speed is so low that it will pick up on the camera shake of me pushing the shutter.
SHOOT WITH A HIGH ISO
If using a tripod is not an option, pump up your ISO. Pumping up your ISO does two things. One, it's your cameras sensitivity to light. So pumping up your ISO means your camera is able to capture what low light there is for your photos. Two, pumping up your ISO will add grain or noise to your photos. I'm not a big fan of having a lot of grain in my photos, so I rarely pump my ISO, unless have no other option. Having grain in photos or not having grain in photos, is totally preference. If you love the look that grain adds to your photos, awesome. Interested in learning more about ISO, check out this challenge I did last summer.
SHOOT WITH REFLECTIVE SURFACES
Anywhere there is a white surface, you are good to go. If you are shooting in low light add reflective surfaces to reflect the light. In the examples I provided you can see two things. One, a white sweep, which is simply a roll of white kraft paper and, two, an actual reflector. Guys, you don't have to have an actual photography reflector to reflect light. For the longest time I used white foam core boards... I still use white foam core boards. They are a life saver. They are cheap and easy to store too. :)
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ADJUST IN POST PROCESSING
Check out the two photos above. The one on the left looks relativity darker then the one one the right. Adjusting the brightness of my photos in post is a huge part of my process. I'm a huge photoshop fan and one thing I love about photoshop is that I can use a graduated filter to adjust the exposure, brightness, contrast, saturation, clarity, and sharpness of only ONE section of my photo.
If you click on the image above, it will enlarge and you can can see where my graduated filter is... see the dotted line? I don't have a lot of light coming in on that corner of my image so I used the graduated filter to increase the exposure and brightness, giving my photo better light over all. I use the graduated all the time. It's probably one of my favorite tool right now.
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The idea of shooting in low light used to really intimidate me, but in the end it really challenged me to shoot better. What are some other ways you combat low light? xoxo. Samantha