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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.
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.
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