Week 10 – Learning Activity – Shooting in Low-Light Conditions

This week has been about photography in low light. After watching the Lynda.com video and practicing, I have learned that while in product shooting you need to have your ISO very low, in low light shooting you can use ISO to your advantage as well. It’s all about balancing with shutter speed, aperture and ISO. You can get totally different feeling captured to the photos when you try different settings.

  1. Describe the steps that you will take to ensure that you take a high quality photograph in low light conditions. Refer to exposure, lenses, tripods, colour temperature, flash and ISO. Your answer should be a minimum of 350 words.

First thing is to find the right exposure for the photo. The exposure time makes a big difference. If you want a misty feel where the light are drawing the picture (shooting for example a car or a waterfall and you want the movement in the picture), you use a longer shutter speed but if you shoot more stationary object like a statue or a building where you are aiming to have more stationary feeling, you use shorter exposure time to get more focused photos. The shutter speed affects then the aperture and depth of field. The longer the exposure time can be the smaller the aperture can be.
With ISO you can play a bit. If you lift it up, it will give you a shorter shutter speed but it also creates noise to your photos. In same cases for example if shooting a person in low light and wanting a misty, mysterious feeling to the picture, the picture can benefit from high ISO. You just have to be aware of it and decide what’s good for the picture. Be also aware of the light spots that can be created to the picture.
When you shoot with longer exposure time, a good tripod is a must to avoid the camera to shake. It’s handy in certain situations but if you’re shooting low light situations where you have to move to take the picture, keep the exposure time in mind to avoid the camera shake.
The lenses makes a big difference as well in low light conditions. With a standard zoom lens, more you zoom in the darker the picture will be. With a “fast” lenses you can get more light but you also have to do the zooming yourself which is not a bad thing in many occasions. All of this makes a big difference when you’re shooting in low-light.
Different lights have different color temperatures. Daylight has a blue tinge, fluorescent light has a green tinge and household light bulbs have a yellow or orange tinge. The camera has to know in which light you’re shooting and you can control it from the camera’s menu by changing the colour balance.
To avoid hard shadows and cold look to your pictures, it’s a good to avoid using the pop up flash while shooting in low-light. It’s better to set your ISO bigger and to use longer exposure time to get better colour balance and softer shadows. That to be mentioned there is a place for using a (external) flash in low light conditions as well when you use it right. For example place it behind the shooting object so that it will give lift the object up but not disturb your photo.

2. Watch the Lynda course Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light by Ben Long (4h 0m). Take four low-light photographs.

One should be a sharp photograph that focuses on a static object, like a building or statue.

1.3s, ISO 300, F/9, focal length 50mm in both of these.

The second photograph should showcase moving objects, like cars or running water.


1s, f/16, ISO 640. Nikon Z6, mirrorless camera.  50mm lens.

For the third photograph, take a moody portrait of a friend and use high ISO settings to your advantage.


The fourth photograph should explore using external light sources, like a Speedlite flash. (Please note, if you don’t have the equipment to take this last photograph, you may leave it out.)


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