Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
In photography, the measure of the darkest to lightest tones that your camera can capture is referred to as the dynamic range. Now you may think that low-light shooting is inherently a low-dynamic-range situation: Everything is dark, right? But actually, low-light situations often have a very high dynamic range, because you'll have a dark scene and usually have bright light in it somewhere. The important thing to remember about dynamic range is that your eye has a much higher dynamic range than your camera, probably close to twice the range. So, while you're standing there, you're going to be able to see detail around the bright light and in dark shadows.
Your camera though won't be able to see that full range without using a very long shutter speed. Typically, the camera will meter for the bright thing; in other words, it'll decide to go with shorter shutter speeds and smaller apertures so that the bright thing doesn't overexpose. But that means that shadowy areas will most likely be plunged into complete darkness. So, there are two things to keep in mind. First your camera will require a very long shutter speed to capture the level of detail that your eye can see, and second, you may have to overexpose some bright highlights to be able to get the detail that you want in your shadows.
Finally, know that if you use a long shutter speed, your camera will be able to capture a level of detail that your eye cannot see. So, part of being a good low-light shooters understanding that there may be a picture hidden in the darkness, one that your eyes can't see but that you can coax out with your camera. This is a skill that will come with experience, as you learn more about what your camera can do in low light with long exposures. As a photographer, it's very important for you to understand the relationship between your eyes' dynamic range and your camera's dynamic range. No matter what type of light you're shooting, the easiest way to learn this is simply to pay attention. When you at our finished image, try to remember what was visible to your eye. Or if you're still at the scene, compare what your eye can see to what your camera has captured.
Overtime you'll develop a sense for when you might need to expose in a different way to capture what you perceive with your eyes.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
180 Video lessons · 69856 Viewers
64 Video lessons · 91857 Viewers
86 Video lessons · 60153 Viewers
103 Video lessons · 28821 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.