Low Light


Low light is a subject that really aggravates me.  I’ve always had a hard time with it, and while I’m getting better, it’s still not something I’m really comfortable with, especially in situations where my subject(s) are moving, like in the above photo.

This charming octopus looked great, but the bugger wouldn’t hold still long enough for a nice shot.  The area around his tank was very dark (mimicking the native environment), so I had to shoot at very high ISO (often 2400-3200), and still had trouble getting clear shots.  Add to that, no useful auto-focus since I had to have the AF assist light off as well.

Octopus v2
Octopus v2

What I’ve found so far that helps in low light is below – and really, you’re better off doing as many of these at once as you can!

  • Get your subject to hold still so you can use a longer shutter speed
  • Have a fast lens, i.e. one that can do a wide aperture
  • Shoot at as high an ISO as you can stomach – some cameras are better than others.
  • Use noise reduction and sharpening in photoshop. This can be either the tools in RAW, or filters (sharpening and blur), or other tricks.  When I get stuck I tend to grab a book or go on Google.
Fish in a School
Mantis Shrimp

And lastly this nasty little fellow, the Peacock Mantis Shrimp.  I wasn’t able to really get a good shot of him  – again with the low light autofocus issue, plus little kids running around all over.  And nothing I did in PS could really get him to where I wanted.  The moral is, sometimes the shot just isn’t there with the constraints you have to deal with.  It stinks, but it’s no less true for that fact.

Happy shooting!

See more of my work at http://www.patricklcahalan.co.nf  and http://www.flickr.com/photos/patricklcahalan



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