After Dark


My crop sensor camera gives me either extremely grainy or blurry images in the evening. What can I do to change this?

Answer by: Sunhil Sippy, Film Director and Photographer

When photographing in low light or at night, it really depends on what sort of image you are looking to make, and it also depends on whether you are working in colour or monochrome. Black and white tends to be more forgiving, and the noisy grain structure can enhance the mood of the scene pretty well.

Typically, you need to be watchful of your ISO, and not pump it extremely high, as digital noise can be quite unattractive. Another thing you can try is using a lens with a wide aperture, that is either f/1.4 or f/1.8. The larger the aperture, that much more light will enter your lens.

Using a tripod can help if you want to create smooth night images, using a slow shutterspeed. A lot of photographers also employ flashguns or a pop-up flash. A slow shutter with flash can do the trick. If you want to be more creative, you can use DIY custom bokeh shapes with your flash. Again, a combination of these options depends on the nature of your subject.

I think it’s really important to study the masters and see how they worked in challenging circumstances. What you may consider to be ‘bad’ in terms of shake or blur, may very well be magical to somebody else.

But as with all things in photography, the more you try and fail, the higher are your chances of succeeding, and eventually finding your voice. Good luck, and continue to delve into how low light works. I feel that it’s a subject that is not explored as much, when in fact, it is a space filled with potential for magic.