Ideally, every photo you want to shoot would have perfect lighting conditions. Having plenty of exterior light to achieve a perfect exposure, a fast shutter speed to avoid blurry images, and no harsh shadows in the shot would be perfect.
Unfortunately, photography options and situations don't always cooperate in terms of lighting. Here are some tips for adjusting your cameras settings so that you can deal with poorly lit subjects.
- When shooting in dim light with an automatic camera, the camera's settings will use a slower shutter speed, which allows more light to enter the camera and improve the exposure. The downside is you may end up with blurry photos. So, when shooting in low light, be sure to steady your camera, preferably with a tripod. If you must hold the camera yourself, lean against a wall or doorframe to steady your body, which, in turn, steadies the camera.
- With some point and shoot cameras, and even some advanced models, you can make use of scene modes to help you achieve better results in dim light. Choose a “night” or “night portrait” scene mode for the best results.
- If the camera has a viewfinder, use it, rather than the LCD, to frame the photo; you'll have fewer problems with camera shake if you're holding the camera against your face to see through the viewfinder.
- If your camera has an image stabilization feature, make sure that you turn it on when shooting in low light. This will help the camera adjust for any slight camera shake that you may experience while shooting.
- If you're shooting a moving subject in dim light, you can limit blurry photos by either waiting for the subject to slow down before shooting the photo or by shooting the subject as it's moving directly at you. A subject moving across the frame is more likely to have some blur versus a subject moving directly at you.
- Keep an eye on the flash range for your camera, which should be listed in your camera's user manual or in its specifications list. If the flash range is up to 12 feet, be sure the subject remains within that range. A dimly lit subject outside the flash range will not receive very little benefit from the flash.
- If you end up shooting a photo where the subject will be outside your flash range, and you cannot move closer with your automatic camera, you will be better served by completely shutting off the flash. With the flash off, the camera's automatic settings will compensate by simply using the existing light to create the photo. It's important to use a tripod when shooting in this fashion because the shutter speed will be very slow.
- Finally, if your camera allows you to manually set the ISO setting, try a higher ISO, which doesn't require as much light to shoot photos, meaning it works well in dim light. However, photos with high ISO settings tend to be grainy, especially when shot with a digital camera.