Creative Techniques to try in Low Light Photography
How you use the limitations of various cameras and the effect they have can lead to some wonderful photo opportunities. Aditya Nair shares some common creative techniques to try in low light.
Just as the night inspires creative thoughts, low light photography can inspire creative imagery. When you are constrained by noise, the use of flash and slow shutterspeeds, you can learn to see in a way that daytime photography may not allow. Here are some experiments for you to try.
Set your camera on a tripod, select the bulb mode while using a cable release and aim towards the night sky. The rotation of the earth will cause the point-stars to trail as the exposure time passes. An easier way to try this technique is to shoot short burst with a shutterspeed of 30sec to 2mins and then stack them together in Photoshop to get the desired result. Keeping an interesting object in the foreground helps draw the viewers attention.
Portraits with the Stars
Ensure that your frame includes a balanced amount of the foreground as well as the sky. After you start the long exposure, use the flash to illuminate the subject in the foreground. Your subject can now safely move out of the frame. The flash will ensure that the subject is sharp while the slow shutterspeed will give the image the starry backdrop you so desire.
Stack Images for Greater Depth of Field
Let’s say that you want better depth of field but don’t have a tripod handy. Shoot multiple images of the same frame, with the aperture fully wide open. Focus on different parts of the frame in each shot and then combine these photos together later in Photoshop. Having a reference point to match the various images helps.
Zoom in to Create Lines
The technique of zoom bursts can create converging lines that streak inwards and outwards. Use it to create interesting leading lines that take the viewer into your photograph.
Capture Star Bursts
Often streetlights end up being a part of the frame while you shoot. Using a narrow aperture will turn these light sources into star bursts. The number of
aperture blades in the lens will affect how many point each star has.
Painting with Lights
While using a slow shutter, use coloured LED lights to paint various designs into parts of the frame to get results that look otherworldly.
Try Your Hand at Free Lensing
Briefly, free lensing requires you to detach your lens from the camera, hold it very close to the mount without locking it in, and shoot. It results in far shallower depth of field and allows light to leak in from the gap between the lens and the camera. This can take some getting used too as the all the controls become fully manual.
Freeze Motion with Strobe Photography
Fire multiple flashes to freeze a moving subject in various stages of motion.
This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Better Photography.Tags: Aditya Nair, Low Light Photography, light painting, star trails, Night Photography, september 2014, creative low ligh photography techniques, depth stacking, zoom bursts