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Join photographer and teacher Ben Long as he describes the tools, creative options, and special considerations involved in shooting with a DSLR camera at night or in low-light conditions, such as sunset or candlelight. The course addresses exposure decisions such as choice of aperture and shutter speed and how they impact depth of field and the camera’s ability to freeze motion.
Ben also shows how to obtain accurate color balance in tungsten and fluorescent lighting situations, and how to postprocess the images in Photoshop to remove noise caused by higher ISO settings. He also demonstrates accessories that can greatly expand your low-light photography options.
(applause) (Female speaker: Good evening! How are you tonight?) (cheering) (Male speaker: I love that noise! (Female speaker: What a coincidence! We're all "waaa!" too) (Female speaker: So, welcome to Bet's Improv. Tonight we're performing an improvisational format that's called a Harold.) (applause) So I shot the first act and I got lucky because it turned out that the stage was not nearly as dark as I thought it was going to be.
I've been to a lot of performances here, a lot of improv performances here, and very often the stage lights are pretty low, which is one reason I was so concerned about having fast lenses and trying to figure out what speed lens was going to work in what location. So what I've found is early on, before the show even started, I put a few different lenses on my camera and metered around on stage. It's hard to get an accurate metering that way because there are no performers on stage, but it still give me a ballpark idea of what kind of ISO I was going to need to be working at. And I was very pleased to find that I could stay at 1600, 3200, ISOs that I'm comfortable with, with my camera noise-wise.
Once I have got started shooting though, it turned out they were flooding the stage with so much light that I really was not having any problem with motion stopping on any of my lenses. I had started out with the nice fast 51:2 on my camera and was thinking, "I'm going to have to be real careful about depth of field and focus because that lens is so fast, the focus can be difficult." But I was getting such high shutter speeds that I quickly switch back to the 24-105, because even at f/4 on that lens, which is as fast as it will go, I had enough light to keep my shutter speed at the speed it needed to be to stop the motion on the stage.
So I got really lucky in that regard. I shot for a while though and then took a look at one of my images and pulled up the histogram and found that that bright white background was really overexposing. I hadn't been paying attention to it during a lot of the show and I finally thought, ooh, that's awfully bright, let me look. When you see white shirts on stage or any bright white object being hit my stage lights, there is a good chance that's going to blow out to complete white in your final image. So I checked my histogram and saw that in fact the whites were overexposing, so I dialed in about 2/3rd of a stop of underexposure and took a test shot.
The performance was going on. I decided I'm not going to worry about what I'm going to getting and just going to shoot, and I saw that that have pulled my exposure down some. I actually tried a couple more test shots at different amounts of exposure compensation and -2/3rds seem to be about the best. So I shot that way pretty much for the rest of the show. If the lighting changed dramatically, I fiddled with it a little more, but in general I found that that underexposure was keeping the bright whites under control, and I don't think anything else is dramatically underexposed. I've got enough latitude to kind of pull it up. One really nice surprise is that I was finding that in some cases, particularly with the faster lenses like the 16-35, I can put it on 2:8 or even 3:5 and I was getting shutter speeds at a 500th or 600th of a second.
There wasn't a whole lot of really fast action on stage, so I didn't need that quick a shutter speed, so I decided to dial my ISO back. I turned it down, because I had all this shutter speed latitude and because I can pull my ISO down, it meant I could eliminate even more noise. (actors performing indecipherable speech)
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