Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

5 Low Light Photography Tips


2
Raise the Aperture, Lower the F-stop

When you're in a dimly-lit setting, your camera's lens opening needs to be sufficiently wide to let in as much of that light as possible. The larger that opening, the more light the camera takes in during the shot. Photographers refer to the size of the lens opening as the aperture or focal length.

In your camera lens, the aperture is measured in f-stop values, written as f numbers in a slash notation. Common f-stops include f/8, f/11 and f/16. The larger number in the f-stop, the smaller the aperture. Thus, f/22 is a much smaller opening in the lens than f/4.

In low light, you'll want to aim for smaller f-stop numbers like f/4. If you plan to do a lot of low light photography, consider purchasing a lens known for having a wide maximum aperture. Some of these numbers go as low as f/1.4 and f/2.0.

Increasing the aperture isn't without its downside, though. The wider the lens opening, the smaller the portion of the image that's in focus. This is known as the depth of field (DOF) for the photograph. In lower light, a lower DOF works fine if you have a single subject. In this case, that single subject will be in focus while everything else is out of focus. The challenge comes when you have multiple objects in the shot at different distances from the camera. In that case, you'll have to choose which objects you most want in focus for the shot and sacrifice the rest to the lower DOF.

Our final tip can make all the difference when it comes to capturing true colors even in lower light.


More to Explore