20 Feb Week 7 – Get Sharp Low Light Event Photos
I have been thinking about posting this blog about low light photography for events since few weeks but I am here finally writing this.
What is Low Light Event Photography?
Low Light Event Photography is any event that occurs at night like Birthdays, Concerts , Wedding dinners etc. Because of night the natural light is not at all present and if the event it indoor then the indoor lights dont look natural in photos.
Another big issue with the low light at these events is that because of lower light the photos come all blurred event with slight moment of the subject or handshake of the photographer. So you need wide aperture lens to get higher shutter speeds and clear sharp photos. My favorite here is 50mm 1.8g prime lens and Nikkor 35mm 1.8g.
P.S. The key to get sharp photos is always have a shutter speed should be according to the formula below
Minimum Shutter Speed( sec) = 1/Focal Length(mm)
above formula taken from bettertravelphotos.com
Techniques to get Sharp Low Light Photos
Use Wide Aperture to Gain High Shutter Speed:
A Wider Aperture lens allows you to get higher shutter speed at the widest aperture. For example for some of the photos shown above I was able to get shutter speed of 1/60th sec with the 50mm 1.8g . If you dont have any wide aperture lens then try to make sure your shutter speed is based on the formula above and keep the lens aperture at the widest if possible.
Another thing to note with the aperture is with group photos you cannot use F1.8 aperture as it will blur the remaining people if you just focus on one person. In this case our second method will help.
Use Higher ISO
If even after having Wider Aperture you are not able to capture the subject or subjects then increase the ISO a little bit and see if that helps. ISO will allow more light to come in at higher value. Only issue with very high ISO is you will start seeing noise and the photos will be too grainy. Most of the modern DSLR’s take good photos at ISO 1600. So stay below this value if possible.
If you own a DSLR Tripod then why not put it to use. The Tripod will remove the blur caused by handshake of the photographer and allow to get sharp photo even at slightly lower speed. You cant use Tripod of speeds lower than 1/30th of second ,as in this case if there is a event that you are shooting people who are moving then this shutter speed will still give blurred photos.
Use Flash to Bounce Light of the Sealing
The Last technique that you can use is use a hot shoe flash if possible a TTL flash and use a white card or flash diffuser to bounce the light off from the Sealing. This is ofcourse the event is indoor and the sealing is light coloured. But using a TTL flash will allow you to get higher shutter speed as it takes in to account the ambient light and the shutter speed, aperture and ISO of your camera before throwing of the flash.
One Tip with the flash, set the camera to Rear Curtain mode to have bright foreground and natural light on the background, otherwise your photos will have bright people but very dark backgrounds
Nikon Low Light Lenses
Nikkor 35mm 1.8g ( this will come in handy if you are mostly taking group shots as its wider than the 50mm)
Canon Low Light Lenses
The Actual Photo shoot
For the photos listed in the gallery on this post I mostly used 50mm 1.8g at a speed of atleast 1/50th of sec and ISO between 800-1600 depending on the situation. If I was shooting people I kept ISO high and Shutter Speed also higher in the range of 1/80th-1/125th of sec as people move a lot and photos tend to get blurred because of it. For steady object i tried to hold the camera tight to avoid handshake and kept lower ISO around 800 and aperture of F1.8.
Since these are all low light photos what i did with all of them is added some exposure 0.5-0.7, reduced the noise of the photos and since there was a purple light in mostly all the photos I tried to reduce the saturation of the overall image by -20. Mostly all images have -25 vignette on it. These settings are all done in Adobe Lightroom.
Camera settings for the photos
Lens : 50mm 1.8g
Camera: Nikon D610
Shutter Speed : 1/50th -1/125th second
Aperture : F1.8 – F4 depending on the number of people in the picture.
ISO : 800-1600
Focal Length 50mm
Note, the client has requested to not use flash in this event so, I had carried a 12inch x 4 inch LED light box with me as a added light source and have used it to put light on the baby girl while taking her portraits.