The days with pretty sunlight are soon gone! If you live in a Country where it gets dark during fall and winter I have good news for you. You can still create beautiful photos!
In my upcoming photography course I teach all about shooting with natural light. I never EVER use a flash. Not even in the darkest time during winter – and that´s a challenge because it can get pretty dark in Denmark.
I used to panic when winter came. Afraid I would not be able to do my work. I tested shooting with flash, rented a professional photo studio – but it´s was not for me – not my style.
I adore natural light and with time I learned that it´s possible to capture beautiful photos even in low light conditions.
As winter is slowly arriving, I share my best tips to shooting in low light.
Five Tips for Taking Photos in Low Light
1. Shoot in RAW
The photos on this page was all shot during times with little daylight available. In most photos I will emphase the darker mood in the photo, but sometimes I also make it as bright as I can for a more clean and fresh look – it´s possible as long as you shoot in RAW. When you work on a RAW file in Lightroom or Photoshop ACR you can really brighten the photo a whole lot without loosing quality. I´ts magic. It´s a lifesaver! Use the exposure slider, the shadow slider and the white slider to lift the shadows and brighten the photos.
2. Raise ISO
I remember when I was a beginner in photography I was told that I should always keep ISO on 100 for best image quality. That´s true, but also a very limiting rule to follow. One of my tips is to play as much with ISO as you can. Take some test shots and notice how high you can take ISO with your camera without seeing to much noise in the photo.
This knowledge will help you tremendously when you shoot in low light. During the darkest winter hours I often have my ISO set to around 800 or 1200 ISO. It´s very different from camera to camera how well it performs with hight ISO settings, so it´s important to test it. Play with it. Don´t be afraid – ISO can be your new best friend.
3. NO FLASH – Use window light
Never turn on artificial light in the room when taking photos, it will add yellow tones to your image. Also avoid any type of flash – especially on-camera flash. Simply use window light. Make sure to place yourself as close to a window as possible. The bigger the window the better, but a small window can do the job as well. Your photos might look dark when you look at the back of your camera, but don´t stress, you will do the last work in post production.
4. Use a tripod
If you use a tripod for stability you can allow the camera to let in even more light, without the risk of getting unsharp photo. When the camera is stable and out of your hands you can lower shutter speed + aperture . This will give you brighter photos and a tack sharp photo. Remember to use a remote so you don´t touch the camera with your hands.
5. Edit in RAW
This is by far the most important tip! As long as you shoot in RAW, you can do wonders in editing. No matter if you use Lightroom or Photoshop ACR you can get amazing results. When I shoot in low light I allow my photos to look darker on the back of my camera than I normally would accept.
When I look at the back of my camera I can see what´s going on in the image but I can´t see any details because the image is to dark. Then when when I get the photo into my editing program I immediately raise Exposure to take a closer look at the image quality. From there I do my normal editing.
In my photography workshop I include ALL my SECRETS on how to edit your photos like a pro. My tricks are EASY to learn and everybody can do it!
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