Today I am thrilled to have a guest post from Clickin Moms, one of the web’s best resources for photography tips and inspiration. I asked that they write a post with tips for taking photos in these dark winter months. I hope this post helps you to take great photos this winter.
The weather outside is frightful at this time of year. Not only that, it gets dark early and on some days, it seems like daylight never really comes. It may be dark both outside and indoors, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking fantastic photos through the dark winter months.
USE A HIGHER ISO
Your ISO setting is based on the amount of light in a scene and the darker days mean a higher ISO. The general rule of thumb for ISO is this: on a bright, sunny day use ISO 100, on an overcast day choose ISO 400 and in a dimly lit room choose ISO 800.
When making images indoors this winter, choose ISO 800 to start and if that isn’t high enough (your images are still too dark) try ISO 1600 or ISO 3200. There will be a little more noise (grain) in images with a higher ISO, but the moment at hand is more important than a little noise in the image.
GO BEYOND AUTO MODE
If you are accustomed to using auto mode on your camera, the darker days might pose a challenge for you. Try using aperture (AV on Canon or A on Nikon) and shutter (TV or S) priority modes. These modes allow you to set the aperture or the shutter speed and the ISO yourself and the camera chooses the corresponding setting.
WATCH YOUR SHUTTER SPEED
To ensure your images are not blurry in the low light, keep an eye on your shutter speed. Your shutter speed should be at least 1/60. If you are having trouble keeping your shutter speed at 1/60 or faster (1/125 or 1/250 for example), check your ISO setting and move it up if you need to. This will allow you to choose a faster shutter and avoid making blurry images.
GET COMFORTABLE SHOOTING WIDE OPEN
Choose the widest aperture possible with the equipment you have. If you are using AV or A mode, simply turn the dial until you get to the smallest number (that’s the widest aperture). Using a wide aperture (shooting wide open) allows more light to hit your sensor and allows you to choose a slower shutter speed and/or lower ISO.
USE WINDOWS AND DOORS
Even on the darkest days, there is light coming through your windows. Open the curtains or blinds and use that soft, diffuse light. You will likely have to place your subject close to the window and can make a game out of it if you are photographing your children. Have them blow on the window and draw something, or have them tell you about the snow outside.
There is light everywhere, but sometimes you need to get creative in order to find it. Turn on a table lamp and use that as your light source. If your kids are playing on a tablet or a computer, use that as your light. You can open the fridge and have that be your light source. The key is avoiding mixed lighting that comes from more than one source (the computer screen and a table lamp, for example).
On dark days, we tend to turn the lights on, but those overhead lights will not make your photos better. Often, those lights lead to odd colour casts, and can potentially confuse your camera as well, especially if you are using auto mode. Turn those lights off and use a single source like the window, open door or something more creative.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
If your images don’t turn out the first time, try again. It takes practice to shoot in very low light, but that’s all it takes – practice. If your images are too dark, change your ISO or your aperture. If they are blurry, change your shutter speed. If they are a funny color, check your light source.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jen Bebb is a photographer, writer, dreamer of big things and the Director of CMpro at Clickin Moms. Clickin Moms is the largest online community for female photographers in the world. www.clickinmoms.com