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5 Low Light Photography Tips


Adjust the White Balance

The humble, basic white index card is a handy, mobile tool for setting your camera's white balance.
The humble, basic white index card is a handy, mobile tool for setting your camera's white balance.

White balance, also called color balance, introduces a level of complexity to photography that even some enthusiastic photographers shy away from. Today, you can make color adjustments in digital photos using post-processing software like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Catching the colors you want the first time, though, can save a lot of time at the computer.

If your camera allows for white balance or color balance adjustments, it's likely to have several automatic presets to choose from. These should cover most cases, even for lower lighting conditions. The presets are typically labeled based on the type of lighting the camera's capturing, such as fluorescent, tungsten (incandescent), daylight and cloudy.

When you decide to tackle manual white balance adjustments, plan for some additional steps. First, grab a white flat-surfaced object to take around with your camera. A blank white index card works well for this. When you get to the location where you're taking photos, place that white object under the same lighting conditions where you intend to take photos. Then, follow the steps for your particular camera to target that object and let the camera know "this is white." After that, the photos you take under those same lighting conditions will be corrected so that they're closer to true colors.

Even though we offer adjusting the white balance as a tip, we know that some photographers prefer the artistic effects created by certain lighting conditions. For example, if you're photographing a person sitting under an incandescent lamp, you might want to capture that warm red-orange glow created by the lamp. If that's the case, set your white or color balance to a full-auto mode and let your camera capture the colors without correction.

No matter what your lighting conditions, you'll want to practice to learn your camera, develop your skills and capture those perfect photos. Check out lots more information below to help brighten your path to low light photography.

Author's Note

I'm one of those people that has always loved both the artistry and the tech behind all types of photography. In spite of that, I've never spent a lot of time exploring photography as a hobby or professionally. Working on this article, though, I've been inspired to take more photos, particularly in beautiful low-light scenarios. I've learned a lot from the research, and I hope the reader looks forward to trying out these tips as much as I do.

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More Great Links


  • Alan. "How to Take Sharp Photos in Low Light Without a Flash." LearningTheLight Blog. Apr. 27, 2010. (Feb. 16, 2012)
  • Edde, René. "How to Soften Up Harsh Flash Lighting." Digital Photography School. (Feb. 16, 2012)
  • Rowse, Darren. "How To Get Better Digital Photos In Low Light Conditions Without Using A Flash." (Feb. 16, 2012)
  • Rowse, Darren. "Introduction to White Balance." Digital Photography School. (Feb. 16, 2012)
  • Rowse, Darren. "ISO Settings in Digital Photography." Digital Photography School. (Feb. 16, 2012)
  • Story, Derrick. "Get great photos in low light." Mac Publishing, LLC. Mar. 10, 2009. (Feb. 16, 2012)


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