Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light

with Ben Long
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Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light
Video duration: 0s 4h 0m Intermediate


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.

Topics include:
  • Understanding how low light affects exposure, shutter speed, color temperature, and more
  • Preparing for a low-light shoot
  • Shooting in dimly lit rooms
  • Using the flash indoors
  • Shooting in the shade
  • Taking flash portraits at night
  • Controlling flash color temperature
  • Focusing in low light
  • Light painting
  • Manipulating long shutter speeds
  • Correcting white balance
  • Brightening shadows
  • Sharpening and noise reduction


As photographers, we spend a lot of time thinking about technical concerns, like exposure theory, or trying to find interesting subjects or locations, or maybe wondering if a new piece of gear might inspire us or make our images more interesting. And these might all be the worthwhile things to think about. But really, as photographers, there is one concerned that should command our attention more than any other, light. It's just that simple. If you don't have good light, it doesn't matter what kind of you have gear you have, how much you know, or what you are you shooting.

With bad light, you will be taking an inferior image. With good light, you can take otherwise mundane subject matter and create an interesting photo. Now the problem is, you can't always count on the light in the scene. Sometimes it will be flat, sometimes it will be too harsh. But probably the most common lighting problem is simply not having enough of it. Low light makes exposure more difficult and often makes a photographer think that a scene is simply not shootable. Low-light situations can happen at any time of day. Step into a dimly lit room and suddenly you are facing potential exposure difficulties.

Therefore, to be effective in the greatest number of shooting situations, you need to have good skills for knowing how to handle the problems presented by low light. Low light levels though are not always a problem; sometimes they are an opportunity. The world looks very different when light levels dim and light sources change from sunlight to artificial light. Learning to recognize and exploit low- light situations can open up an entirely new world of subject matter. A scene that might have been blaze to you in the daytime, might turn fascinating once the sun goes down.

If you have got good low-light skills, you can take advantage of this different view of the same scene. In this course, we are going to take a look at all kinds of low-light shooting situations, from trying to get good results in a dimly lit room in your house to prowling around in the dark, looking for photos that cannot exist with higher light levels. On rare occasions, we will be handling low light by adding lighting of our own. But in most situations, we will be looking at working with available light levels, even when it appears that a scene is way too dark to get a good shot.

So grab your camera and maybe take a nap, because were going to be staying up late, waiting for light levels to dim, and exploring all the different aspects and possibilities presented by low-light and night shooting.

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