How To Capture Fantastic Photos In Low Light Conditions

Lighting means everything in photography.

However, poor lighting should not be a hindrance to taking fantastic photos. In fact, any photographer who is a pro will go out of the way to still manage to capture worthy photographs in these uncontrollable circumstances.

It is important to understand the degree of poor lighting in order to come up with tips to use in these conditions.

There are three degrees of poor lighting:

  • Visible: this happens during daylight when you find yourself in shadow areas.
  • Low light– this effect can be felt after sunset when you can see objects but the camera is having issues focusing on an object.
  • Dark– Naturally occurs at night. In this degree of poor lighting, you can only see bright objects.

How then do you handle these situations?

How to capture fantastic photos in low light

1. Alter the Shutter Speed.

Under the optimal light, a speed shutter of 1/200th of a sec to 1/250th of a sec is fast enough to capture spectacular and sharp images without strain.

Increasing the shutter speed allows more time for exposure and ultimately allows for more light to enter the camera, hence blurry-free images are produced.

This is a simple trick that will allow you to play with the light available as you maximize it.

Tips On How To Enhance Your Photography Skills

However, if you are using a telephoto lens, apply the reciprocal rule (the shutter speed of your camera should be at least the reciprocal of the effective focal length of the lens) as this produces the desired effect without altering the image quality.

This technique is best for crop sensor camera due to its magnifying effect.

2. Increase the ISO of Your Camera

This technique is useful any time, with any of the three degrees of poor lighting.

Increasing the sensor sensitivity of your camera allows the sensor to collect light faster hence nullifying the poor light effect.

Since altering the ISO also alters the shutter speed, it is advisable to understand how this works.

ISO Camera Settings

Generally, doubling your ISO also doubles your shutter speed, meaning if you increase the ISO from 100 to 200, this automatically increases the shutter speed from say 1/25th of a second to 1/50th of a second.

The two work hand in hand to give you fantastic photos provided that you are careful not to produce images with a grain.

3. Use a Wider Aperture

The hole on your camera allows light into your camera.

Therefore, increasing the aperture will allow for more light in.  To do this effectively, set your lens to stop at f/1.8  in order to let in more light.

You should, however, be careful as wide apertures produce a shallow depth of field, hence if it is not your desire, use the viewfinder to regulate the aperture to the extent you find comfortable.

Buy your camera lens for low light photography

Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm f1.8 Interchangeable Lens

Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm f1.8 Interchangeable Lens

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens

Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens

4. Tripod Trick

If you do decide to use a slower shutter speed to garner more light, your hands can get a bit shaky-as is human nature- making your camera susceptible to camera shake.

This will definitely affect the quality of the photos taken. For stabilization purposes, use an appropriate tripod instead.

This will not only give you stability and prevent camera shakes but also give you enough time to focus on the object instead of focusing on stabilizing the camera.

The result of this is fantastic photos with the right composition. You can check out here some handy travel tripods under $100.

Buy your tripod for low light photography

Manfrotto Befree Advanced Travel Al Tripod

Manfrotto Travel Tripod

Manfrotto MTPIXI-B PIXI Mini Tripod

Manfrotto MTPIXI-B PIXI Mini Tripod

5. Get Your Focus Right

Bear in mind that autofocus struggles with finding the right subject to look onto in low light.

You can, therefore, use manual setting to get the right focus.

If you are using a DSLR camera, use the AF assistant, which you can activate from the menu, to manually focus on your object. This will throw a burst of light to help lens focus before the photo is taken.

In addition, you should set the focus to infinity when shooting the night sky since the autofocus might keep searching for a focal point or even focus on the wrong thing.

Do you have other photography tips in taking fantastic photos in low light conditions?
Share it in the comment box below.

Low light photography


George Minton of Cameraseals



CHi, I’m George. I have been a camera enthusiast from 2008. Cameraseals is my personal blog where I share most of my interests and experiences from using cameras. You will find helpful topics even if you’re a beginner or long-time user.

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