Whether you are a beginner or more experienced with photography, there are some tips that will benefit you and give you better results. To use the rule of thirds, imagine four lines, two lying horizontally across the image and two vertical creating nine even squares.
Camera shake or blur is something that can plague any photographer and here are some ways to avoid it. The idea with the Sunny 16 rule is that we can use it to predict how to meter our camera on a sunny outdoor day.
When photographing landscapes it really helps to create a sense of depth, in other words, make the viewer feel like they are there.
The simple approach is usually the best in digital photography, and you have to decide what needs to be in the shot, while not including anything that is a distraction. The ISO setting determines how sensitive your camera is to light and also how fine the grain of your image. Taking great indoor photos without flash can seem impossible, but it’s actually quite doable! We recently took our girls to Gatlinburg, Tenn., and while we were there, we visited the Ripley’s Aquarium. While we were walking through, I had a friendly fella come up to me and tell me, “Oh, honey.
I was going to give him a quick how-to, but he didn’t stick around long enough to let me show him.
For the picture below, I exposed for Emma’s face because I wanted the picture to show her looking at whatever was inside the tank. However, for this next shot, I exposed for the fish inside the tank while still including the woman taking the picture in the bottom right corner to show the sheer size of the tank. Keli Hoskins is a lifestyle photographer who loves coffee, yellow, talking about her two awesome kiddos, Jesus, using an ellipsis incorrectly, running, sweet tea, and shooting wide open. Wondering which manual mode you choose since it was not apeture and can you please further explain this point?
I have an external flash and sometimes when there is just simply not enough light for no flash, I’ll use my external but cover the flash with my hand. Thanks for this post – I always find it difficult to shoot indoors and will try your methods the next time we visit an aquarium or museum.
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I Heart Faces is a photography blog with monthly photo challenges, free photography tips and tutorials. Each month all levels of photographers have the opportunity to submit a face photo into a themed photo challenge. If you’re anything like me, then one of the reasons you’re interested in photography – and why you shelled out on a nice camera – is to take some lovely shots of your family and friends.
So, what can we do to take great photos indoors – where the light levels are often less than ideal – without using a tripod (as families and friends don’t stay still all the time, unfortunately!), and all this without using our flash? We want to set our aperture to its widest setting, so that the most light available is entering our lens. Depending on the amount of light you’re shooting in, and your other camera settings (such as ISO, which we’ll be talking about next) you may now be able to get some sharp, low light photos. When you review your photo on the LCD screen, remember to zoom in to check if it really is sharp, as virtually every photo will look good on a 2” LCD if you don’t zoom in to examine the detail! Your camera’s ISO setting is simply telling the camera how sensitive you want it to be to light – the higher the ISO, the more sensitive it will be. By the way, if you’ve read more articles and books about photography, then you’ll no doubt have seen it written a bazillion times how we must always ‘use the lowest ISO available’, as otherwise the quality of our shots will deteriorate. Now, gig photography is an extremely lowlight situation, and there is no way that I could have got such a sharp shot with any of my other lenses – their maximum apertures are just not wide enough, so even with my high ISO of 1600 the photos would have been a blur. Following those top three tips should get you sharp shots without that dreaded pop-up flash or tripod. Another way you can increase the chance of getting a sharp shot is to use your camera’s ‘burst’ shooting mode (this could be called ‘Burst’ on your camera, or perhaps ‘Continuous Shooting’ like on the Canon T2i) to take multiple photos a second. When you normally take a shot in ‘one shot’ mode, taking one photo at a time, when you press the shutter button you’re actually introducing a small vibration into the photographic process as you’re physically depressing the button.
So, if you use ‘burst’ mode, and press the shutter, the vibration that is brought about by you pressing the button will only really affect the first photo of the 3 (or more) photos you’ll take – meaning every photo except the first of the series should be that little bit sharper. Taking more photos at a time also increases the chance that your subject will be moving less for at least one of the shots too – in the example above my friends were pulling some funny faces, so I shot a lot of frames per second, increasing my chance of getting this sharp one.
Yes, this my seem like a no-brainer, but it’s actually one I have been guilty of forgetting myself – if the light is really too low to get those fast shutter speeds we’re after, just turn on some more lights!

Of course, you may be in a situation where there just aren’t any more lights to turn on, but, a lot of the time, there’ll be a light switch you can flip at the other end of the room, or a table lamp, or even a fire you can start – yes, any extra light source will help!
By the way, I took all the photos above (except the lightbulbs and product shots) with my Canon T1i, which is available from Amazon US and UK(where it’s known as the 500D).
I think I understand about using aperture at full open, but won’t that create a very shallow depth of field, especially if you have two or three faces or heads at slightly different depths from lens?
Sorry, but another site advised not to use any lens wide open because the sharpest image will be 1-2 stops closed. Fantastic, simplified article that has given me greater insight into shooting in low light conditions.
Thank you for this article, honestly the most straightforward I’ve read on this subject.
Hi Lisa, thanks for your comment and kind words; apologies for my delay in getting back to you.
Any help would be gratefully received, and i am happy to invest in some new gear should anyone have any advice! No problems, much appreciated reply either way…will keep my eyes on this blog as it really is a great network!
Here are some common issues that you may have to deal with and some tips on how you can use them to your advantage. Some images will look best with the focal point in the center square, but placing the subject off center will often create a more aesthetically composed photograph.
First, you need to learn how to hold your camera properly; use both hands, one around the body and one around the lens and hold the camera close to your body for support. This filter helps reduce reflections from water as well as metal and glass; it improves the colors of the sky and foliage, and it will protect your lens too.
If possible, choose a plain background a€“ in other words, neutral colors and simple patterns. Therefore, there are various ways you can take an image indoors without resorting to flash.
The ISO we choose depends on the situation a€“ when ita€™s dark we need to push the ISO up to a higher number, say anything from 400 a€“ 3200 as this will make the camera more sensitive to light and then we can avoid blurring. When taking a night time shot, use a tripod and try shooting with the shutter speed set at 4 seconds.
Your photos aren’t going to come out if you don’t use your flash.” The first thought that popped into my head was, “Did he really just call me honey??” But I turned my camera around and showed him the pictures via the LCD screen on the back of my camera.
So maybe, just maybe, he is out there wondering how in the world that lady with the sleeping baby strapped to her chest was taking pictures in the aquarium without using flash. The most important thing you need to do is to shoot in manual mode so you can control your settings. If I had used aperture-priority mode, it probably would have exposed for the tank, and she would have been completely under-exposed and in the shadows. If you are somewhere that has tanks or glass cases, try to get as close to the glass as possible, so that you can  A. Use a faster shutter speed (in the easiest term … use a larger number on the bottom of the shutter speed fraction) to freeze the movement of the animals or fish or whatever you’re photographing.
She doesn’t love frogs, wearing heels, orange vegetables, alarm clocks or going to the dentist.
More to the point, don't leave comments about your blog, product or service on our participants websites. And, most of the time, I find that these photographic opportunities occur inside, where the light is low. This is simply telling the camera how much light to allow in at a time – and so the bigger the amount of light that is coming into your lens, the quicker your shutter speed will be, and thus the sharper your photos. Now, as we want to take sharp photos when there is little available light, then we’ll be wanting to make our camera more sensitive to obtain those quicker shutter speeds, and so we raise our ISO – simple! If the resulting photo’s still not sharp enough, raise the ISO to 1600, and – if you need even more sensitivity – try ISO 3200 if your camera can go to that. The performance of modern DSLR cameras at high ISOs are pretty amazing these days, where you can often use an ISO of 1600 – 3200 without seeing much, if any, deterioration.
Most of the photos we’ll generally be taking will be viewed on our computer screens, or perhaps printed to relatively small 7 x 5” prints – at these sizes digital noise is much less noticeable than if we were pumping out wall-sized posters. Experimenting at ISO 800 still didn’t get my shutter speed quick enough, so I raised it again to ISO 1600, et voila! This will really help you to get those sharper shots, because you’ll be letting in so much more light at a time.
Sorry, I think i’m a bit too late to get back to you on this one; I hope the event went well!

Just need your advise on what will be the best setting to take night outdoor photos with low light. I’m an amateur photographer with a Nikon d80, but thru my work as a graphic designer, I am asked to do photo shoots for our clients. For shooting large room indoors you’ll probably need to take a tripod so that you can use a low ISO (better image quality) and still get sharp shots. In a few weeks a friend of mine has invited me to shoot his high end restaurant, some ambient indoor shots and also some close ups of the food they serve. Placing an object or person in the foreground helps give a sense of scale and emphasizes how far away the distance is.
You want the eye to be drawn to the focal point of the image rather than a patch of color or an odd building in the background. First, push the ISO up a€“ usually ISO 800 to 1600 will make a big difference for the shutter speed you can choose. On sunny days we can choose ISO 100 or the Auto setting as we have more light to work with. Keep your camera on the subject with your finger half way down on the shutter to lock the focus and when ready, take the photo, remembering to follow them as they move. If you shoot in aperture-priority mode, you will end up having issues with exposure because your camera will be extremely confused about the varying dark and light. A basic SLR purchased in the past 3 or 4 years will be fine with 1600-2000 to start without having too much noise.
If you expose properly and then end up using a slow shutter speed, everything will be a blur. It will let in the most light, and you will also be able to focus on what you want while getting rid of as much of the background as you can.
You will end up with some movement, you will end up with reflections on the glass or scratched glass or dirty glass, and you will more than likely end up with some seriously funky white balance issues due to all the different lights and colors. I really appreciate the time you took to explain everything in really basic terms; making it very easy for a novice DSLR user like me to understand.
I love learning something new and this site has provided lots of “somethings new”! Sure, there are the occasional barbeques outside, and holidays in the sun, but for the most part, I find I’m taking photos of my loved ones indoors.
As Scott Kelby says, and I’m paraphrasing here, “If you have a worst enemy, make sure you take a photo of them with your flash’.
You can either capture some lovely sharp photos of your friends and family – which will be memories forever – , or you can just sit there and not take a photo at all, because you would have to ‘raise your ISO’ which we’re always told we shouldn’t do. Explained things really straightforward and to the point in a simple way (which is sometimes needed in photography!).
I got a Canon T2i and the 50mm lens ang I was wondering if you could give me some tips about the best setting to take night outdoor photos of peole with low light, with and without flash. If using flash, then bounce it off walls if you can, rather than point straight ahead, and use an ISO of around 800 so that your flash isn’t working so hard! Also, what kinds of lenses would you recommend using indoors like during a musical where flashes are not permitted? This rule is useful if you dona€™t have a functioning light meter or if your camera doesna€™t have an LCD screen to review the image. The recommended kind of polarizer is circular because these allow your camera to use TTL (through the lens) metering (i.e. Use the widest aperture possible a€“ this way more light will reach the sensor and you will have a nice blurred background. Shots taken with our little pop-up flashes look dreadful – either washed out, too dark, and always flat and just ugly looking. This technique works well if you are using a tripod and if you are photographing a moving object.
I shoot with aperture priority, but until reading your article didn’t realise setting the widest aperture will help with lighting too. I have a few lights that i can play with but as everyone seems to be so helpful here, i thought iw ould ask some advice directly (im not being lazy as hvae a good idea of how i can make good use of the lenses and lighting already thorugh research) but was more interested to see if any of you could pass on some good advice.
Just a few thoughts, anyway, as I’m really not an expert on this field of photography. Depending on the light, you’ll still need to be raising your ISO to something like 1600 or 3200, too.

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