11.28.13 | Low Light Photography Tips


I don’t know about you, but between now and Christmas we have lots going on in terms of events and get togethers which are tied to this special time of year!  But around here the days are short and I find myself wanting to take pictures when there is not a drop of sunlight in the sky! Not always good for a photographer like me that soaks in natural light.  But it can be done! With a little practice, a guideline for camera settings and some twinkle lights – you can get good shots in low light situations.

This week we attended our city’s annual Holiday parade.   I always bring my camera along. It’s always a challenge – but afterwards I am always happy that I got out of my comfort box and stretched my photo skills to get some fun shots.

IMG_2059 Settings: 1/3200  ƒ/1.4 ISO 6400 50 mm (photo above)

IMG_2061 Settings: 1/500 ƒ/1.4 ISO 6400 50 mm (photo above)

Here are a few tips to help you get the shot:

  1. Crank up the ISO.  I higher ISO means more light is coming into your camera.  You can see in my settings from the parade that I had my ISO up as high as possible.  You will get a bit more noise (grain) to your photos with a higher ISO, but this can be smoothed out in the editing process.  In situations like an outdoor holiday parade at night, well I just except the fact that my photos are going to be a bit more grainy.
  2. Set you Aperture wide.   Aperture is the f-stop setting on your camera.  Setting it wide means your f-stop number is low.  It can be confusing…the the lower the number larger or wider your aperture is.  Meaning it lets in more light.  Which really is the key here.  Your goal is to let in as much light as possible.  You can see on my photos my f-stop was set at 2.8 to 1.4 for the entire parade.
  3. Watch your shutter speed.   I don’t like my shutter speed going below 1/50.  And ideally I like it at or over 1/125.   A good trick is don’t let your shutter speed go lower than the length of your lens.   Another trick I use with shutter speed… if you find yourself dipping below 1/50 go back and adjust your ISO (up) and Aperture (wide). However,  for the parade I was at the max I could set my ISO and Aperture to, and my shutter speed several times dipped below 1/50, but it always stayed higher than my lens length.  When you know you are taking pictures with a slow shutter speed, do your best to stay very still while shooting or use a tripod, this will help eliminate blur.   I use my light meter in my camera as a guide to where my shutter needs to be set based on my ISO and Aperture settings.
  4. Flash.  For all the parade pictures I did not use my flash.   If you feel like you need to use a flash – don’t use the pop-up flash that came with your camera.  Instead get an external flash.  I recently purchase this one Canon Speedlite 430EX II .  I am excited to try it out more in the next few weeks.  For the parade pictures, I didn’t want the flash to compete with all the twinkle lights, so I went with no flash.

Here are a few more photos from the parade with settings noted below each photo:

IMG_2066 Settings: 1/160 ƒ/1.4 ISO 6400 50 mm


Settings: 1/125 ƒ/2.8 ISO 6400 24 mm


IMG_2070Settings: 1/40 ƒ/2.8  ISO 6400  17 mm – my shutter speed was getting too low on this one!


Settings: 1/40 ƒ/2.8 ISO 6400 17 mm



Settings: 1/30 ƒ/2.8 ISO 6400 31 mm – again super slow shutter speed!  Which explains while one lady in the photos (can you find her) is blurry. Because she must have moved right when I snapped the photos.   But that’s OK. In this type of picture at night I don’t expect perfect.


IMG_2092Settings: 1/40 ƒ/2.8 ISO 6400 17 mm

IMG_2109Settings: 1/30 ƒ/2.8  ISO 6400  17 mm


Settings: 1/125  ƒ/2.8 ISO 6400 17 mm

In case you wanted to know:

For all my USA blog readers out there – I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!  We will be busy cooking and hosting Thanksgiving dinner today!  And I am planning on taking lots and lots of pictures of all the fun!

For more photo tips, visit my Photography page!

Photography Tips and Tricks - michellebostinelos.com/blog
Happy Thursday!



This entry was posted in Canon 60D, canon60D, Christmas, Photography Tips, Pictures. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 11.28.13 | Low Light Photography Tips

  1. Kelly Jean says:

    Thank you so much for these tips! I have to pin this because I am still learning lots with my Nikon, and I’ve had it for years. I’ve only recently started using Manual mode on my camera.

  2. Shelly Lewis says:

    Thanks for posting these helpful comments! I got my camera out and followed along. My ISO only goes to 1600 or Hi 1 and my F-stop will only go to 4. I am just messing around trying to take some indoor pics of my christmas tree and unless I have my flash on, it is too dark. Any suggestions?

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