Low Light Photography Tips 🎆

Summer nights bring tons of great opportunities for low light photography and with the 4th of July right around the corner, we’ve compiled a list of tips and gear to help you get the best fireworks and low light photos all summer long! 

10 Tips for Low Light Photography

Use a Tripod + Remote Shutter Release 

Perhaps one of the most important tips for low light photography is using a tripod. Low light photography utilizes long exposures and in order to have crisp and clear images you’ll need to keep your camera steady. Mounting your camera on a tripod ensures that your camera stays steady throughout your entire exposure. Invest in a good, sturdy tripod especially if you are photographing outdoors where factors like wind and unsteady ground can add shake in your images even if you use a tripod. 

Avoid any camera shake by pressing your camera’s shutter button but using a remote shutter release. Remote Shutter Releases allow you to manually trigger your cameras shutter button without touching your camera. 

Wide Apertures

Utilize your lenses with wide apertures such as F1.2, F1.4, F2.8 for optimal low light images. Using a wide aperture will allow more light into your camera allowing you to keep your ISO low, helping with grain, and creates an aesthetically pleasing shallow depth of field. 

When photographing fireworks, specifically, you may benefit from a smaller aperture like F/8 or F/16. This range will help you maintain good depth of field while also keeping the fireworks in sharp focus.

Be Mindful of ISO

ISO can widely vary based on shooting conditions, your shutter speed, etc. Keep in mind that while raising your ISO sensitivity can help you capture more light, setting it too high can cause your images to appear grainy. 

When photographing fireworks, a low ISO will help you keep your images sharp. Against a dark night sky, fireworks are bright enough to set your ISO to around 100-200. 

Slow Shutter Speed

The key to low light photography is balancing the amount of light that hits your camera sensor. In addition to ISO and Aperture, shutter speed is another important piece to achieving the perfect exposure balance. Often in low light photography, slow shutter speeds can be useful in allowing the proper amount of light into your camera. When using slower shutter speeds it’s essential to have a tripod as camera shake can quickly make your images blurry! 

Shoot in RAW

RAW files store more information than JPEGs. Shooting your low light images in RAW allows you greater flexibility in post-processing if you need to make adjustments to your exposure or reduce noise.

Use Manual Focus

Autofocus can sometimes struggle in low light. Using manual focus will allow you better control and accuracy in your images. 

When photographing fireworks, manual focus is useful for pre-focusing on the area where you anticipate the fireworks to explode so that you never miss a shot. 

Use Manual Mode

Manual mode is essential when photographing in low light conditions. Shooting in manual mode gives you full control over your camera settings and allows you to easily make adjustments to shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. 

Compose Your Shot:

Low light photography subjects can be great on their own but considering the overall composition more thoroughly can really take your images to the next level. Pay attention to foreground and background and include landmarks, water reflections, or silhouettes to add context and interest to your photos.

Experiment and Review

Low light photography can be challenging and it may take you a few tries to get the shot right. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings and compositions. Review your shots periodically to see what works and make adjustments as needed!

Low Light Photography Essentials:

Great lenses for low light situations: 

Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM

Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S

Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM II

Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR Lens

Essential Tripods:

Peak Design Travel Tripod Carbon Fiber

Benro CLT303 3-Series Induro Classic Carbon Fiber Tripod

Promaster Chronicle Tripod Kit - Carbon Fiber

Manfrotto MT190XPRO3 Aluminum Tripod

Benro Slim Aluminum-Alloy Tripod with Ball Head

Promaster Chronicle Tripod Kit - Aluminum
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