One of the most oft asked questions are, how does one shoot pictures in low light without using a flash? Why would one not want to use the flash? Like most things good in life, in photography there is bound to be a fall side to it. Flashes as good as they are in brightening up and allowing one to take good pictures in low light or indoors, has its flaws.
Flashes tend to distract the subject more and spoil the moment. Flashes have a tendency to rob the depth by lighting up the front of the object, it flattens the image and this effect could be lessened to some extent when the flash is not built in.
Many a time in failing light or low light our eyes see clearly, yet the the images captured by the camera are not as clear. This is because the way our eyes operate is different fromt the way the camera operates. So it does takes a while and experience to realize the light is not as good as it seems, as the shadows lengthen we know that the light is failing.
So what does one do when the light is fading or the light is low and one needs to shoot pictures. The elementary things to do are.
Use a higher ISO- ISO is the light sensitivity of the camera or more specifically the sensitivity of the light falling on the sensor. In the conventional camera that used or uses films, we can change the films and use a film with a higher ISO (the film being the sensor). In digital cameras the ISO can be adjusted and made higher, let`s say from a 100 to 200 and it continues to double. Just as much as this allows one to shoot in low light, it ends up creating more noise in the image which can be rectified and corrected when digitally editing and enhancing the image.
In lower ISO the noise and disturbance is not seen, but as we increase the ISO and we increase the sensitivity what we are in effect doing is amplifying the light and in effect amplifying the noise as well, which at a lower ISO was not visible. This is a concept one needs to be aware of when choosing the ISO. Rest assured most of this noise, distortions and grains can be removed while image editing.
Use lower aperture numbers – Select lower aperture number on the camera around 1.8 or up to 2.8. The lower the number better it is as it opens wide and allows more light in which is important in low light photography. Consider the number marked on your camera as a fraction so F2.8 would be 1 / 2.8 and F1.8 would 1/ 1.8 making the latter a bigger number – so lower the aperture the better.
Use fast lens – Use the fastest lens you have, fast lens tend to be costly but use the fastest one you have
Use a Tripod- The higher ISO, lower aperture allowing in as much light as possible, the long shutter speeds allowing in as much light, the fast lens all of this leads to greater sensitivity and low tolerance for shakes so it is best to use tripods as far as is possible
Shoot in RAW – As far as possible shoot in RAW format this allows for easier image editing and enhancements
Camera in Manual Settings – In low light it is better to shoot in manual settings and adjust each element as you shoot and observe the results. In the initial stages it is a good idea to experiment with your camera and figure out the various options and settings and observe the results
It is good to have a fair understanding of image editing and enhancement tools and what they can do, so as to be aware and to be able to make choices when shooting the picture, as the flaws can be rectified later, also the reason why the RAW form is preferred. These are the broad tips, it will be a good idea to dive into each technique and over time let the results you produce be your lodestone.