With the ever growing prevalence of camera phones
and the constant technical advancements that have come along with these devices, just about anyone and everyone has the means to take photographs on a regular basis. However, just because you have the ability to do something, doesn’t mean you have the skill or creative vision for it. Nor does it mean that your equipment can handle what actually has to be done in order to create true art.
This brings me to one of my major pet peeves as a landscape and portrait photographer – attempting to substitute a a camera phone for the real thing.
For example, one of the newest things out there is a Nokia Lumia 1020 which claims to have a 41 megapixel digital camera. While I have my doubts about the reality of this claim, even if it is true, that’s only a small part of the equation of what makes a quality camera.
A REAL decent camera must have all of these qualities if not more:
Ability to adjust aperture manually
Ability to adjust shutter speed manually
Ability to adjust ISO manually
Ability to adjust white balance manually
Ability to house an external flash
Ability to work with strobe lighting units
Ability to use and exchange multiple lenses
Don’t get me wrong, camera phones are OK for just playing around or using in a pinch. But none of them can compare to the real thing.
Whether you are a professional, advanced armature or just a photography enthusiast, chances are that we’ve all been there – working to make the best shot we can in low-light conditions. It’s no secret that this can be highly challenging and frequently frustrating. And while there are many things that one might do to help to improve his or her photography in these less than perfect conditions, here are three basic suggestions that may help on their own or at least get you going in the right direction.
Use a low F-stop
In low-light conditions you should probably ALWAYS set your aperture to the lowest possible (or close) F number that you can. This will maximize the like that comes in. This has very few drawbacks except for the fact that it can possibly hurt the crispness and detail in the background. In fact, this is one of the simplest things to do to create an intentionally blurred background effect.
Set you camera to a high ISO
Depending upon the type and model camera you use, you may have more or less flexibility here. The lowest ISO options are typical 100 or 200 which can be used in well-lit locations. However, when you increase that number in your settings to say, 400, 800,l 1600, 3200 or more, you increase the camera’s sensitivity to the light that is available to you. The danger here is that the more you move up the scale, the more likely your image will be to have undesirable noise. So, you should be sure to see how your own camera handles increases in ISO as well as take the time to look into getting some form of noise reduction tool.
Try a slower shutter speed
The longer your shutter remains open, the more light that reaches your camera’s sensor. So, opening your shutter for a longer period or time can offset some of the problems with poor lighting. The challenge here is that the slower the shutter speed, the more chance for blur from any moving (even slightly) objects. This can also result form your own minor movements while holding the camera. That being the case, it is recommended that when you slow down the shutter, you should probably use a tripod to stabilize your camera and keep it from moving.
One last bonus tip…
In the event that you don’t already know this, it is a good idea to avoid using the on-camera flash whenever possible. This is because it only has a range of about 6 feet or so and thus is irrelevant for anything in the distance and it also tends to generate harsh light and shadows.
Have you ever had a photo capture your eye
and then wonder how the photographer accomplished the effect within that piece of art? For a lot of us, this happens fairly frequently. And if you’re really interested in finding out how that particular image came together, what do you do?
In this digital age, it’s quite possible that your first instinct is to turn to Google or whatever else may be your preferred search engine. However, in many cases, you may not be able to find what you need with a simple “how to” style search. Even if you do get results, there’s a good chance you’ll end up finding some conflicting information. No need to worry though, there is a much easier way to figure out what a you’ll have to do in order to get the qualities you love into images you shoot on your own.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Flickr. For those of you who haven’t, it’s a photo storage and sharing tool with a bit of a social networking quality as well. The site has undergone some awesome visual upgrades lately but one of its coolest features still remains. That would be the ability to see the technical details of each image. With this information, it should be pretty easy to recreate an image similar to those you admire so much.
You’ll be able to tell exactly what shutter speed, aperture, ISO and more is the combination that produces the desired result. All you have to do is go out and find an image (on the site) that you want to emulate and go from there. Sure, some photographers may not like the fact that you can access this info. But the way I see it, it’s like sharing with and learning from other professionals and not really any different than when someone posts a Photoshop tutorial on Youtube. And besides, photographers essentially OK this when they decide to sign up of the site in the first place.
Check out the video I have created below to find out how to access this information for yourself. In this case, I used a model photography shot that I took myself but it works the same for every image throughout the entire site.
One of the most difficult aspects of working with photography can be dealing with the problem of low lighting and poorly lit shooting locations. Sure some expensive equipment can help but even that doesn’t guarantee success in bad lighting.
So, what can a photographer do to help to avoid the frustration that comes with this common problem? Here are a few things that might help.
1. Adjust your shutter speed
Setting your camera shutter to remain open for a longer time period allows more light to reach your sensor and thus a brighter overall outcome. Of course, when doing so you have to be careful to avoid unwanted blur. A tripod can be just the key.
2. Increase your ISO
By increasing your sensitivity, you have the chance to allow more light in and can minimize the need to set your shutter to an excessively long speed. The drawback here is that some cameras struggle with noise issues more than others. And depending upon your model, increasing the ISO can cause unwanted noise.
3, Use your flash
While in general, I avoid using a flash, especially the on-board one built into a camera, it can help to brighten up a dark location. The negative with this approach is that it can result in some over exposed parts of the images and harsh shadowing.
All in all, using these methods carefully may present some other challenges but can surely help to improve shots taken under less than ideal lighting conditions.
Keeping your shutter open for an extended period or time has both its benefits and drawbacks in photography.
While it can be difficult to work with a long exposure without a stabilization mechanism such as a good tripod, and you do have to consider the possibility of overexposing the image to the point of a completely blown out shot, this approach can produce some really artistic and eye catch results as well. See the examples below.
Effective usage of long exposure:
Exposure: 117.4 sec – Vehicle lights on a busy road.
Beautiful stars in the night sky.
Colorful, artsy image with interesting background.
Beautiful misty appeal to a shot of a waterfall.
Jouster on horse in an image intended to show motion.