Join Joseph "PhotoJoseph" Linaschke for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring the essential gear, part of Photography 101: Shooting in Low Light.
This course needed an introduction to all the gear that we'll be using throughout it. And normally I'd shoot this video in a studio where it's a controlled environment. But we found ourselves out in the Valley of Fire with some incredible surroundings, like this awesome little cave here, and decided that, why not, let's just shoot this thing out here. So, let's take a look at all the gear that I've got set up here. So first and foremost, you're going to need a camera. Now, a small point and shoot probably isn't going to cut it for low light photography. The sensor's too small and you're not going to have the manual override controls that you're going to want for this.
So, you're going to want to be working with a DSLR, or a mirror-less camera. Now, the second thing you want to think about, is the lens itself. You're probably going to want a pretty fast lens. The faster lens means a bigger aperture, which means more light can come into it. And that's going to benefit you a lot for low light photography. It's not a requirement, but it's helpful to have. For example, the lens that's on here is a 25 millimeter F 1.4. Now that's on a micro four thirds camera, so that translates to a 50 millimeter, 1.4 lens, really, really fast. Next thing you'll need is something to stabilize your camera.
The obvious choice is a tripod. Got a nice big tripod here, and that works fantastic. But you don't necessarily have to have a big one. You, you need something to stabilize the camera. A big tripod's great, but as you can see we've got a smaller tripod here, and even a GorillaPod will work in a pinch. But tripods aren't your only option. You can think outside of the box and come up with some other creative solutions. This, for example, is a clamp made by Calumet. This thing is fantastic. It allows me to clamp this onto pretty much anything that I can wrap this around. A tree branch, a handrail or whatever will fit in here.
I can take the tripod head and mount it onto this, and then I have a really solid way to position my camera wherever I like. Another great option is a bean bag. Got a nice little bean bag right here. And not only is this a really solid thing that I can set my camera on, it also comes in handy if you're out shooting in high wind and you need to weigh your tripod down or just something to kneel on. You're going to find yourself crouching down on the ground a lot and having something to put your knees on, can be really handy. Also don't forget your coat. If you're out at night, chances are it might be chilly, you're going to have a coat with you.
Just take your coat, roll it up. And just this on its own can be a great thing to stabilize your camera on. And of course look around you. Just a rock. You can find a big heavy rock that you can lean your camera against, tilt it up. Your camera's not going anywhere leaning against something like this. Okay, let's talk about lighting. A lot of the low light photography you'll do will require no additional lighting at all. But sometimes you're going to want to introduce your own light. So there's a few options there. The obvious one is a strobe. Most of you probably have a camera strobe, so you can take this and either put this on the camera or pull it off camera and add some light.
But keep in mind, you don't even have to have any specialized equipment to do off-camera flash photography for a lot of the low light work. because you're going to be putting your camera in to bulb mode, where the shutter is just open, and then you could walk around and fire the flash as needed. So that's pretty handy. You may want to work with something like this, colored gels. This can be a lot of fun to add some creative flare into your photography. And, you can even look at working with an LED flashlight. LED flashlight and the color gels, or if the strobe in the color gels, can give you some pretty creative options. And don't forget a headlamp. This is going to be very handy when you're out working at night, out in the dark, and your hands are full.
Or at least they should be full with your camera, you don't want to have to hold onto a flashlight, as well. So this can be very handy for that. The last lighting element I'm going to talk about might surprise you. Your iPad. Your iPad can act as a fantastic light source, and this can do double duty. Check this out. I have an amazing application on here that shows me where the stars are. If I want to figure out where a constellation is or where the moon is going to rise, an app like this can work wonders for doing that. So, all of this gear that you see here, are accessories. Other than the camera, you don't need any of this.
It can help, but you don't need it. All you really need is the camera, some patience, and a little creativity.
Joseph explores indoor, candlelit scenes; bright cities, where he shows how to capture spectacular traffic trails; and the great outdoors, under the natural light of the moon and stars. The course also contains tips on using your iPhone or other smartphone for low-light photography—or even as a light source—and enhancing noisy, high-ISO images in post-production.
- Setting up low-light portraits
- Using the iPad as a light source
- Shooting a long exposure of city lights
- Shooting simple night photos
- Exposing for the moon
- Processing night shots with StarStaX