13 Tricks to Get Great Photos in Low Light Situations [Actualizado]

By now you will know that to achieve a photograph you need light, without light there is no photo. We will repeat it on the blog as many times as necessary and without losing our smile. That is the first, very first lesson. And that’s why we have this mega guide with everything you need to know about lighting in photography. Of course, the circumstances that one wants when pressing the shutter button do not always occur and you often find yourself in situations where you have little light, or worse, no light at all.

Well, this last one is very difficult, because as long as you are not in a dark room there is always a little bit of ambient light. Then what do we do? Give up trying? Well, if it’s a session that you can postpone, then maybe it’s better to postpone, but if it’s an unrepeatable moment, a place you won’t return to or an event you can’t change, of course you’re not going to throw in the towel, The only thing you are going to throw is photos and not exactly to the trash.

In today’s article I am going to give you some tricks to squeeze the little light you have and get illuminated images. You stay? I warn you that this is a challenge that you will come across many times (although I put my hand in the fire that it has already happened to you).

  1. make way for the light
  2. Bring the subject or object closer to the light source
  3. spot metering
  4. Make a correct exposure
  5. Increase the ISO value
  6. Use bright targets
  7. Use slow shutter speeds
  8. Use bounce or blur flash
  9. use reflectors
  10. When it comes to childrenโ€ฆ
  11. Set the white balance right
  12. Image Stabilizer
  13. To practice

1. Make way for the light

I’m going to start with the most obvious. Yes, I know, it’s too obvious, but don’t think, you have to remember it many times because, sometimes, in the rush, the nerves of the moment, the concentration on the creative composition, the tiredness, the daze of each one, bla bla blaโ€ฆ we forget the essential. Open doors, windows, curtains, raise blinds, turn on lights… Look for the light!

looking for the light

2. Bring the subject or object closer to the light source

I say almost the same thing as in the previous point, obviously but necessarily repeatable (add to satiety if necessary). If you can bring your subject closer to a light source, a window, a lamppost, a lamp or some candles, any light, no matter how small, will help you. If your main character is not moveable, you can try to move the light source closer (if there is one available that can be moved).

Take advantage of any light source

May it serve as an introduction to the most novice or as a reminder to the most clueless and forgetful minds, but these first two steps cannot be skipped. From here on, we keep talking about other terms ๐Ÿ˜‰

3. Spot measurement

Use the spot metering mode, because in low light conditions it is more difficult to make accurate measurements. In this way you measure just what you want to be well exposed and without having to worry about the rest.

spot metering

4. Make a correct exposure

This works the same when you have light and when you don’t, except that in low light conditions it becomes more important. If you are not sure how to do it, here is a detailed guide.

5. Increase the ISO value

In many articles we have advised you to set the ISO value to the minimum to avoid noise. Today, though, I’m going to tell you to turn it up as high as your camera will allow (and the noise won’t be too annoying). Since a photo with noise is preferable to losing a great moment.

In some photographs, noise can be a creative element, in others, you will have to increase the value to a point where it does not spoil the image too much or allows you to capture a unique and unrepeatable moment.

Depending on what type of image you want to take or what moment you want to capture, you will have to weigh.

Increase the ISO value

6. Use bright targets

Using a wide aperture is one of the tricks that will work best for you. Use the brightest lens you have or can get, i.e. one with a wide aperture (as small an f-number as possible), such as what Mario calls The King of Lenses, 50mm f 1/ Four. In low light, a large aperture will undoubtedly be a great ally.

If you do not have a bright lens, nothing happens, if the largest aperture offered by your lens is f/3.5, for example, then use it and if it is not enough, resort to the following trick.

7. Use slow shutter speeds

In addition to using a wide aperture, you can shoot with slow speeds, in this way the diaphragm will remain open for longer, thus allowing more light to enter. What happens in this case? that you will need a tripod for slower speeds or at least a foothold for intermediate speeds.

If you are photographing people, they will hardly be able to stay so still as to use a speed of less than 1/25, if you do not want a blurred photo, make sure of this speed.

Although it is also possible that the people in the image are not the protagonists and may appear in motion with an interesting creative effect, remember that here the artist is you ๐Ÿ˜‰

Long exposition

In case it is not very clear to you how this shutter speed works, Mario explains it here very clearly, like water ๐Ÿ˜‰

8. Use bounce or blur flash

If the previous options are not enough or you cannot use some of them, you will probably have no choice but to pull the flash. And here the trick It does not consist of telling you to use it, but:

  • That you avoid using the flash that is built into the camera and that you bounce or diffuse the handheld flash. If you don’t have a diffuser, a little trick is to use a white tissue, a white plastic bag, or a piece of tissue paper (also white). To bounce it, direct the flash to the ceiling or to the side, depending on where you want the light source to be. If you bounce off a white surface it will reflect much more light. By bouncing or diffusing the flash, the effect will be less artificial and above all, the resulting light will not be as harsh and you will avoid unwanted shadows.
  • That if you have no choice but to use the built-in flash because you don’t have another, at least diffuse the light by placing a tissue around it or with a homemade diffuser.
If you use the flash, do it right

Another option is to play with the flash to achieve creative photos, see this example:

Creativity with the flash

9. Use reflectors

Reflectors serve you the same with natural light as with artificial light, use them to direct the light to your main subject. You can use natural reflectors, like snow or sand, or pop-up reflectors like these.

Another trick is that you wear white clothes, if you, you will be the best reflector ๐Ÿ˜‰ At least the t-shirt or shirt, in this way you will reflect the existing light on the subject in front of you ๐Ÿ˜‰

use reflectors

10. When it comes to childrenโ€ฆ

If you are working with a child, do not expect their patience to be up to your needs, better do the tests beforehand and wait for the right moment in the right place so that they stand (or walk by) and shoot. But don’t make him suffer by testing and adjusting. It won’t hold ๐Ÿ˜‰

And try to leave the trick of slow speeds as a last resort because, unless he is sleeping, he will hardly stay still. If you don’t want it to move, you won’t be able to use low speeds.

Kid stuff

11. Adjust the white balance well

Another trick to achieve good results is to adjust the white balance. It is not the same if you use the flash, if you use the light of a candle or a light bulb or if you take advantage of that ray of sun that is sneaking through the window.

If you shoot in RAW you can modify it in the edition, if not, better do not forget to adjust it.

Proper white balance

12. Image Stabilizer

To finish (or almost), if you have an image stabilizer, do not forget to activate it to avoid judder. In case of using a tripod it will not be necessary ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

13. Practice

This last trick is the most infallible of all. It will be useless to read this article if you do not put it into practice. The only way to achieve well-lit photos in low light is to shoot over and over again. Making mistakes, correcting and making mistakes again. This is the only way to learn and achieve it almost without thinking. Do not wait to find an occasion like this to apply these tricks, look for it and rehearse and when a real opportunity comes, you will know how to face it without fear (of the dark).

These tricks will serve you both separately and in combination. Evaluate in each situation what is best for you, or what tricks are more feasible for you to use.

Thanks for reading this far and sharing if you found it useful. May the light be with you! ๐Ÿ™‚