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Low Light PhotographyLow Light Photography

Low Light Photography

Low Light Photography 1st Edition

Knowing how to handle your camera when available light is in short supply is rewarding in itself and will improve your photographic technique in all shooting conditions. This guide takes you through the fundamentals of exposure, controlling ISO, image 'noise' and how to keep it in check. It deals with the techniques for capturing sharp, well-exposed images without a tripod, and shows you how to get those surreal long exposure shots of subjects like flowing water and star trails. Lift your sunset and sunrise compositions beyond the everyday using the simple tips provided in Low Light Photography. Mixed lighting is a particular challenge - obtaining a well-exposed shot when there's a bright light source in an otherwise dark scene. Low Light Photography shows you how - with a minimum of jargon.

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access_time8 min.
chapter 1 understanding the basics of low light photography

Scenery often appears at its most attractive when the sun is low in the sky, either just before sunrise or after sunset.Don’t put your camera away once the sun goes down; there’s plenty of magic to record after dark, whether you’re in a bustling city or an isolated landscape. And you don’t require elaborate equipment if you decide to hand-hold your camera.After dark isn’t the only time you can encounter dim lighting; it can also occur inside buildings – or even in narrow streets between tall buildings that block the sunlight. Light can have difficulty penetrating thick forests, particularly under cloud-covered skies. And weather conditions like storms and smoke from bushfires can also reduce ambient light levels.The time of day, ambient light levels and distribution of tones within the scene…

access_time2 min.
the importance of lens aperture

Fast lenses with maximum apertures of f/2.8 or wider will allow more light to reach the image sensor, making them ideal for low light photography.Lens aperture is an important criterion in any camera’s exposure adjustments. But, for low light photographers, it is equally important in determining the choice of which lens to use. Faster lenses (i.e. those with large maximum apertures) will allow more light to reach the image sensor, thereby reducing the need to use high ISO settings and allowing faster shutter speeds to be used, which reduces the risk of blurring due to camera shake.To capture more light, the glass elements used in fast lenses must be as large as possible, which means fast lenses are always larger and heavier than lenses that are only one f-stop slower.…

access_time7 min.
chapter 2 hand-held shooting after dark

An exposure of 1/10 second at f/5 with ISO 1000 was used for this hand-held shot of a family group around a fire. The shot was taken with a M4/3 camera with built-in sensor-shift stabilisation using a 40mm focal length.Taking pictures after dark requires the same key controls as you would use in daylight – but they may be pushed to their technical limits in some situations. Understanding these limits enables you to modify your shooting practices to produce interesting and technically competent photographs.Shooting in low light levels requires you to make some important decisions about how to balance three vital controls: aperture, shutter speed and ISO. This balance pivots on shutter speed since it’s the function that determines whether your shot is sharp.So the first parameter to lock down…

access_time1 min.
‘usable images’ defined

Deciding what makes an image usable requires you to determine the end use(s) for the picture. Will it be displayed on a screen – or printed? And, if printed, how large will the print be? What if you want to use the shot both ways?For screen viewing, the highest output resolution currently supported is 3840 x 2160 pixels, which complies with the 4K video standard. This is roughly equivalent to an 8.3-megapixel image and most screens support pixel densities of less than 100 (typically 72 ppi).Tablets and smart-phones may have higher pixel densities but their screen resolutions are less. So for screenbased viewing, images that look good at 3840 x 2160 pixels will fit the bill, regardless of their pixel densities.Printing images tends to suppress the granularity of image noise…

access_time8 min.
chapter 3 capturing long exposures

A tripod was required to capture this 13-second exposure of an urban beachfront. The long exposure blurs all water movement, imparting a creamy appearance to breaking waves. City lighting adds a warm tone that harmonises with the colours of the fireworks. A 16mm wide angle lens was used at f/10 on a ‘full frame’ DSLR camera for adequate depth of field. The ISO setting was 800. (©iStockphoto.com/Matt Stansfield.)Long exposure photography is often associated with ‘fine art’ pictorialism because it enables photographers to achieve surreal and unworldly effects, often from quite banal subjects. Most cameras aren’t designed specifically for long exposure photography but you can obtain worthwhile results with appropriate equipment and correct exposure and focusing.In this feature we will look at the subjects you can photograph and the shooting techniques…

access_time1 min.
choosing a tripod

A Sirui T-1204X tripod + K-10X head.The Sirui T-1204X tripod and head shown above in use with a Sony A7R and Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 lens for a night shot at Sydney’s Darling Harbour.Choosing a tripod depends on how much weight you can carry and your preferences for adjusting the head that supports the camera. If you can set up your gear close to a car (or other vehicle) you have the luxury of being able to use a heavy, solid tripod. For really long exposures (several minutes to an hour or more) the sturdier the tripod, the better.Travellers and photographers who have to carry their equipment for a kilometre or more will probably prefer a light tripod. This forces a choice between weight, stability and cost and may limit the…