Moody. Emotive. Storytelling


Embracing Low Light - 7 Tips


I first picked up my camera in 2015. We were living in a rental with brown carpet and hardly any light. I was so discouraged because I thought I needed lots and lots of light to create beautiful images. Instead of letting my discouragement get the best of me, I decided to work with what I had. I found myself using any light I could find, no matter how small it was. 

I wasn't very good at first, but the more I practiced, the more I could see the potential and I ended up absolutely falling in love with low - light! It's so very emotive and can create such drama and depth in an image. 

Fast forward to 2018.... we are now in our new home and it has tons of windows and natural light. (We actually built it with photography in mind.) But I find myself closing curtains, seeking out shadows and  using little pockets of light any way,  I'm totally obsessed!

I really encourage you to try shooting in low light, you may find you become obsessed like me.  Here are 7 tips to help you embrace low light imagery :

1. Focus on the light

Sometimes it can be hard to grab focus in low light, so be sure you focus on the light (exposing for the highlights) and focus using the center focus point dot as it's faster and more accurate. 

2. Use a faster lens

Lenses with larger maximum apertures are called "fast" because they allow you to shoot with faster shutter speeds due to more light entering your camera through the bigger opening. Lenses with a maximum F-stop of 1.8 for instance will give you better results than kit lenses with apertures of 3.5 or 5.6 as long as you use the correct settings.

3. Use Manual Mode

If you aren't using manual mode yet, learn it now! There are many articles over at that can help teach you. When you are using  manual mode you have more control over your camera via the exposure triangle.  In other words you have complete creative control over ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture. Your in camera light meter will help reveal where correct exposure is. I personally love to underexpose my images a bit and get artistic with post processing. 

4. Shutter Speed

Make sure you set your shutter speed to match your focal length. In other words.. If you are shooting a 50mm, then your shutter speed shouldn't be any lower than 1/50th

5. Aperture

In most low light situations you will probably need to shoot wide open, but sometimes there is enough light to allow a smaller f stop. Using a smaller f stop will increase your depth of field though, so it's always a creative choice here.

6. ISO

You can always crank up your ISO because this will allow your camera to record more light, but you do risk more digital noise this way. This is another creative choice as some really embrace the noise and get creative with their shots! I personally try to keep my ISO as low as possible and only increase it after I have maxed out my shutter speed and aperture. 

7. Convert to Black and White.

If you are afraid of grain, you really shouldn't be. Embrace it even... you can end up with some very creative imagery.  If you end up with an image that you absolutely love, but maybe there is too  much grain for your liking....try turning it into black and white!


I hope these tips were helpful to you. I would love to hear how you shoot in low light. Comment below with your tips! 


Tanya Moon