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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.
We've been talking only about natural light shooting through most of this course, but there will be times in low light where you will want to use your flash. Now this is not a flash course, but if your camera has a pop-up flash, it does have some utility in low light, working as a fill to fill in some shadows and just cast a little bit of extra light onto your subject. There is problem though very often with fill flash in low light. Now we have already talked about how in low light everything is going to turn really red and really orange. Your camera is going to have a difficult time white balancing with the kind of lighting situations you get into at night and at low light.
Watch what happens if I pop up the flash on my camera and take a shot of Janna here. I end up with a shot that is well exposed and the flash is working for me, but notice the difference between a color on her face and the color in the background. Now we talked about white balance. Every different type of light shines at a different color temperature, meaning it has a different color cast to it. And what we've got here is the flash has one color cast and those lights in the background have another, and so there is this difference between the lights that's on her face and the lights that's in the background.
It works okay exposure-wise, but it doesn't look that natural. It really looks like a flash picture. It would be nice if the flash were the same color as the background. It's possible to do that using a gel, a little piece of cellophane-like material of a particular color. Gels come in a lot of different colors. This is color temperature orange, or CTO, and you can get these in different thicknesses which create more or less of a gelling effect. So what I am going to do here is take this and cut this down and just tape it over the front of the flash.
That's going to change the color temperature of the flash to match the color temperature of the background, and it should give me a better overall exposure. You can get these from camera stores. You can get these off of Amazon. There are a lot of places that you can buy gels. So I am going to take a minute to affix this to my flash now. So using some gaffer's tape, we've got the CTO gel just stuck over the front of the flash. All that matters is that it covers where the light's coming out. We don't want to cover too much of it with the tape. But that's going to color the light as it comes out of the flash.
I am not going to take the same shot that I took before. And that gives us a balanced lighting situation between our flash and the background. As you can see, it's much closer to the temperature of the light that we've got back there. I don't have that blue cast on her that I had before. So this is a simple way to balance out your flash with other background lighting. This is not something that you're only going to do in extremely low light like this.
Sunsets are to be the same situation. Anytime where the difference in color between flash and the background is really noticeable, a simple CTO gel over the flash is a really easy fix.
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