When I bought my first DSLR in 2015, I could not wait to get started! I am inside a lot because I home educate my 9 children, so I thought it would be great practice if I just documented their everyday activities. But figuring out exposure was tough for me, and my excitement soon turned to dismay when I realized just how hard it was for me to get good images indoors.
In came Clickin’ Moms! I spent an insane amount of time learning from this wonderful resource, and I am so thankful for it. I don’t remember there being just one article that made it all click, but rather many articles and a lot of practice.
Through this process, I discovered that creative exposure was what I was lacking. I have been in love with low-light ever since!
Here are some of my favorite tips for
getting great low-light imagery.
- Learn to shoot in manual mode. Manual mode gives you the greatest control over all the settings in camera. This is how you will be able to expose creatively.
- Place your subject close to a light source. Windows are your best friends! By placing your subject close to a light source, such as a window or door, he or she will be partially illuminated. This is great for drawing your viewer’s eye towards your subject.
- Open your aperture. Shoot wide open. In other words keep your aperture as low as possible in order to let in the most amount of light. I typically shoot at f/1.4 with my Sigma Art 35mm lens.
- Expose Creatively. Expose for the highlights. Many times I keep my ISO at 100-200 and meter to correctly expose for the brightest part of the image. This will correctly expose the highlights and the rest of the image will fall into darkness – perfect for eliminating unwanted distractions in your environment. (Goodbye laundry and toys!) Shooting at a low ISO also keeps noise and grain down to a minimum.
- Experiment with both natural and artificial low light. Natural low light from a single light source, such as a window, is very beautiful, but don’t limit yourself! Cell phones, televisions, and refrigerators are all wonderful artificial light sources that can be used in a low-light scenario.
- Bump up your ISO. Don’t be afraid to bump up your ISO if necessary. If you expose correctly, a little grain is alright. I actually like a little grain in some of my images!
- Post Processing Magic. This is where you can tweak your image to complement the low light mood of your capture. I love to match my imagery with my imagination and create pieces of art by adjusting shadows, blacks, contrast, and highlights. Dodge and burn tools are another way to really make your image stand out – darken the areas you wish to conceal and lighten the areas where you want the viewer to focus. Noise reduction may also come in handy on images where it was necessary to use a higher ISO.
It sounds cliché but practice really does make perfect.
Keep your camera out and ready to grab at a moment’s notice. As soon as you see the moment strike in that beautiful low-light, grab your camera and start shooting!
About Tanya Lorraine Moon
Tanya Lorraine is a published photographer in Springhill, Tennessee & founder of Tanya Lorraine Photography. Her work is a blend of lifestyle, documentary and fine art. She loves to use natural light and creative storytelling compositions. She strives to capture authentic emotion and connection her imagery.
Tanya became a Click Pro in June 2018 and an Unraveled Expert Artist in October 2018. Tanya is an artist with Offset and Cavan Images and has been featured on the Clickin’ Mom’s Blog, Click Magazine Blog, Bella Grace Magazine and Beauty Revived 50 Beautiful Mother’s 2018 campaign. Her current projects include creating educational content for the Hello Storyteller Academy.
Follow Tanya on Instagram and use her hashtag for a chance to be featured: #storyphotog
Special thanks to Guest Blog Editor, Stacey Adams.
Stacey is a newborn and family photographer, specializing in films and photos that focus on the details, personalities, and connections that remind us how beautiful our real lives really are. She teaches the Business of Family Films through the Everyday Film School, where she guides other photographers in successfully making the jump to selling films in their market. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her three sons, husband, and a little dog.