lovely low-light Photoshoot – a sneak peek behind the scenes

A recent competition run by Canon was to embrace low light. Today I share how I got on with the challenge of having a low-light photoshoot.

Low-light challenges

It can be tricky to carry out a low-light photoshoot. However, it is also an opportunity to capture something a little bit different.

Setting up the camera

There are a few things you can do with your camera to still get a well exposed image and capture a subject in low light.

The first option is to raise your ISO. The higher the ISO the brighter the exposure. However, the downside of this option is if you take your ISO too high, you will get noise and excessive grain on the image.

Secondly, you can open up your aperture. By taking the lens to a lower f/stop you will let more light into the camera. This allows you to get a correctly exposed image. The other consequence of this is you will get a smaller focal plain, meaning less of the image will be in focus. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as you can get some lovely blurry backgrounds, known as “bokeh”.

Finally, you can lower the shutter speed. A slow shutter speed will keep your shutter open for longer, letting in more light. This can be tricky if you have a moving subject. However, it can also be used to capture creative shots of movement or light. For still life subjects, it is less of a problem, as long as the camera is mounted onto a tripod.

Low-light photoshoot

Unfortunately, the time of year made this challenge difficult. It was currently still light late into the night, and the sun was rising at about 4 am. I didn’t fancy going out in the middle of the night, so had to get creative indoors!

I decided to do some still life images, and have a play with smoke and light effects. The brief of this competition was that there could not be any excessive editing. So I had to capture these effects in-camera.

My subject for his challenge was going to be “Big Daddy” from the Bioshock games. This imposing character needed a dramatic scene. So I set up a tray of water, laid some pieces of slate, and darkened the scene with black cardboard.

behind the scenes of a low light photoshoot

Creating effects in a low light photoshoot

I wanted there to be a smokey atmosphere. This was created using incense sticks that I carefully moved around the scene. I used my phone as a backlight. This makes the smoke more visible.

Big daddy in a low light photoshoot

Another effect I wanted to create was some mysterious lighting. I wrapped some blue cellophane around my phone light and “painted” this blue light onto the scene. For this scene, I used a slow shutter speed which allowed me to move the light around and capture this blue glow.

Blue light painting on low light photoshoot

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