Digital Photography: Simple, But Effective Lighting Techniques

Poor lighting can make it nearly impossible to get a decent photo but by trying a few techniques you may be able to get more out of your low light photos or extra sunny action shots. Trying different settings and becoming familiar with your camera will go a long way in helping you decide which modes to use so experiment as often as possible when you’re in unusual lighting conditions.

Artificial Lighting

In low light, you may need to use an internal or external flash. It can take time and practice to develop an eye for lighting conditions, but by experimenting with one or multiple external lighting sources you’ll be able to determine the best ways to shine a little more light onto your subject. Sometimes you may want additional shadow or highlighting effects and external lighting placement will bring these effects out much more dramatically.

Auto Settings

Your camera’s auto settings can come in handy in many situations, but sometimes it can sabotage you for the more complicated shots. If you’re getting unsatisfactory results with every picture, turn off your auto settings and try experimenting with the white balance and flash settings on your own. Some cameras will also have preset modes you can try that are customized for night, sunny, or cloudy scenes.

Low Light Obstacles

When trying to get a decent shot at night, sometimes the settings that fix your lighting issues add other problems instead. Low shutter speeds can be good for low light images but can make pictures blurry if there’s any movement. Using a tripod can eliminate this problem for any still shots you might be taking. Higher ISO settings can also help, but extra noise can be added to your image. Some noise can be edited out on your photo editing software, so what can’t be fixed when shooting could be corrected later.

When you find a technique or setting that really works for you, make a note of it and try it in other situations. With more and more practice, overcoming lighting issues will become a natural reflex. It will take time to train your eyes to asses your lighting situation, but once you get the hang of it, your photos will show a huge improvement.

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