Digital Photograpy in the dark.
September 2, 2007 7:14 PM Subscribe
Low-light DIGITAL photography without the smears or grainy colored dots? Long question and possibly NSFW conversation inside.
posted by sandra_s to Media & Arts (31 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I’m a totally amateur photographer thrust in to producing more than just the holiday snaps. I have 4 digital cameras ranging in quality from my 6 year old 3MP tiny-lensed model to a 12mp DSLR with a couple others in the middle. I have this problem with all of them, so I know its something I’m doing wrong. :-)
My well-lit or studio produced photos are spot on and I’m quite pleased with them.
Unfortunately, my low-light or nighttime photography is plagued by one of two things:
1) Thousands and thousands of multi-colored dots in all of the darker portions of the photo because of the lack of light
2) smeary motion-lines caused by the slower shutter speed (needed to let in more light, see #1, rinse, repeat)
Sometimes, I would like to light the scene with, say, only one incandescent bulb, or moonlight, or candles or very low lighting, or low ambient light, so that I can capture the subtle shadows cast and have a general intimate, tense, dangerous or darker feel to the photoset. However, invariably, every setting or combination of settings I come up with produces one or both of the above situations, ruining the entire set. I have to resort to using a flash just to get a few shots that I can take a chance at salvaging by artificially adjusting the levels in Photoshop.
For the type of photography I produce, it’s not practical for the camera to be mounted on a tripod and the subject to remain perfectly motionless for every shot. Sometimes I need the subject to be able to move around and/or move into a pose and I want to catch that process.
The answers I can find either tell me I need more light, which ruins what I’m going for, or the tripod solution, which again, ruins what I’m going for.
Basically, what I see when I’m standing there is how I want the photos to come out.
So, what would the (ballpark) proper settings (ISO, shutter speed…) be for a photo session taken in low, ambient light, and with a digital camera?
What’s weird is that I never had this problem with old auto point-and-shoot 35mm film cameras with no settings. I could take beautiful photos by candlelight and the black parts were jet black and the darker hues were perfect. Unfortunately the nature of my photography now precludes me from using film (you know, candid photography, wink-wink-nudge-nudge-say-no more :-)
Thanks in advance, all!