Photography in low light situations

As the Summer break approaches many people will be heading for the delights of South East Asia or back home to their loved ones

Amongst these delights are of course the myriad temples, wet markets, night markets and street photography which beg our photographic attention. There is just one problem, it’s not very bright in there! The photos come back underexposed, blurred and unusable.

Don’t be afraid, your camera can handle it if you tell it how to! Here are some tips for you to get the best from your camera when shooting in a low-light situation.

Take and use your fastest lens
This means the lens with the widest aperture you have. A 50mm lens is ideal in low light. Remember, the smaller the f-stop number, the wider the aperture which in turn lets in more light. You can find your f-stop number on the front or side of your lens. Go for the one with the lowest number.

Keep your ISO high

This is very important and often the main thing that people overlook in darker conditions. When the light starts to drop push your ISO higher. Your camera can cope very well with low-light, but only if you tell it to.

Assess the light conditions
Temples have varying qualities of light from very bright to very dark. The best light will be indirect. At openings such as doors and windows the light will be soft and diffused. In situations where the light creates pools of light, use it to your advantage by creating natural vignettes or shoot against it to create silhouettes.


Keep your aperture wide
Your lowest f-stop number will let in as much light as possible. This will keep your shutter speed as high as possible. The bonus with this is that you will create bokeh without even trying! 

Use shutter or aperture priority instead of auto
This will give you direct control of your light. In really dark conditions when you have hit your maximum ISO and aperture you may need to drop your shutter speed. If you need to know how to use the priority functions, just contact Noodle Photography and we will be pleased to help.

Take your time
If you don’t need to hurry then look closely at what you are shooting and where the best light is and what direction it is coming from. Your photos can easily take the appearance of the mood you were in at the time. A rushed shot can have a tendency to look just that…. rushed!

Steady yourself
Given that many temples now won’t let you in with a tripod, take a bean-bag or zip-lock bag with rice in it to rest your camera on. This will give stability and allow longer exposure times (slower shutter speeds). If you don’t have this then brace yourself against a wall, a tree or rest on a table top. Failing all that, concentrate on holding that camera super steady by using one of the techniques as described by Joe McNally in the video below.

Enjoy your trip!

For more information on what Noodle Photography can offer, head to our website or contact

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