Photography

Low-light photography: 5 tips to achieve stunning results without compromising quality

Post by
Andrea Quintanilla
Low-light photography: 5 tips to achieve stunning results without compromising quality

Taking on the challenge of shooting low-light photography can often seem daunting. Whether you're capturing bedtime moments with kids, a nighttime skincare routine, or the cozy ambiance of a fire pit, maintaining image quality can feel impossible.

But even though shooting in this environment has its challenges, we can assure you there is light at the end of the tunnel. Here are five tips to help you master low-light photography and capture scenes like a star!

Creator Melissa captured a cosy scene by the fire pit for Jack Daniel’s. Source: Creatively Squared

1. Embrace Daylight for Optimal Results

While this first tip might sound counterintuitive, remember that cameras require light to capture moments effectively. Without light, our cameras struggle to record visual information and produce low-quality content.

Although shooting nighttime scenes in bright and sunny environments wouldn't make sense, the strategic use of daylight can make a significant difference.

Next time you conduct a shoot in low light, try setting up your scene in a space that allows natural light to enter but enables you to control it.

For instance, shoot in a room with windows and use drapes or curtains to manage the amount of light that comes in. This will allow a good amount of light to reach your camera while still letting you control how much light comes through.

Creator team member Rebecca captures those bedtime feels using natural lighting for Huggies DryNites. Source: Creatively Squared

2. Introduce Lighting Cues

Beyond relying solely on natural daylight, introducing your own light sources into the space you are photographing will allow you to enhance its visual appeal and improve the quality of the content.

When shooting in low-light spaces, make sure to incorporate lighting props that could normally be found in the given environment, such as lamps, lanterns, nightlights, candles, string lights, and neon signs.

Remember that the better-lit your space is, the higher quality content your camera will be able to produce.

Lisa added nighttime ambience to her U by Kotex Overnight Reusables content using candles. Source: Creatively Squared
A beautiful night light helps create Tahnee’s sleeping scene for Huggies DryNites. Source: Creatively Squared

3. Use a reflector

Reflectors are an excellent tool for bouncing light in low light situations, to fill in shadows, and provide even more illumination onto your subject. Position the reflector opposite your main light source to reflect light back onto the shadowed side of your subject's face or the scene. This will help eliminate harsh shadows and create a more balanced exposure.

The closer you place the reflector to your subject, the more you can reduce shadows. Start with the reflector close, then move it back until you get the desired amount of fill light. You can also experiment with angling the reflector to control how the light falls on your subject.

Bonus tip: To easily illuminate a bottle for photography, position a gold or silver card at a slight angle behind the bottle. This will reflect light from your source back into the bottle, creating an illuminated effect.

If you don't have any glow cards handy, you can make one by wrapping a piece of paper or cardboard in aluminum foil and cutting it to match the shape of the bottle you are photographing. See our creator Jitz put this hack into action!

[#cta]

4. Choose the Right Camera Settings

Once your space is ready, it is crucial to set up your camera correctly. Without this step, there is no way to obtain high-quality, low-light content.

Before you start shooting, follow the steps outlined below:

Set your camera to shoot in RAW

This ensures your camera captures higher-quality images, preserves all information and details without loss, and provides greater control and flexibility for adjusting the light in your content during post-production.

Adjust your ISO

As you raise the ISO, your images will become brighter, and while it may be tempting to increase this number, it's essential to note that with each ISO boost, there's a corresponding increase in noise or grain in the final image. Keeping your ISO as low as possible will maintain image quality.

While the specific range can vary depending on your camera's capabilities and the available light in the scene, a general recommendation is to keep your ISO between 100-800 for low-light situations.

Select a low aperture (F Stop)

The lower the F stop is, the better light intake your camera will have. However, it's important to keep in mind that as you decrease the aperture, the depth of field also decreases. This means that the amount of distance your camera can effectively focus on will be reduced, most likely resulting in sharp subjects and blurry backgrounds.

Depending on the look you want to achieve and the amount of light you have, try keeping your F stop between 1.4-5. Feel free to test out different aperture modes until you achieve the look you are aiming for!

Set your shutter speed:

When configuring your shutter speed for low-light photography, it's crucial to choose a value slow enough to allow your camera to receive sufficient light, yet fast enough to freeze subjects and capture sharp images. Aim to set your shutter speed between 1/80 and 1/125 for optimal results.

For maximum stability, always use a tripod.

Focus manually:

While our cameras are great at autofocus during the day, they often struggle to do this in low-light environments. Focusing your images manually will ensure they are sharp and high quality.

Cheat sheet for beginners on ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. Source: Creatively Squared

5. Underexpose and Adjust in Post-Production

Don't be afraid to underexpose your content slightly during the shoot. Doing this will give you more flexibility to play around with the lighting in post-production without sacrificing the image quality and will allow you to achieve your desired look.

Take a look at these before and after images from our creator Lisa for Huggies DryNites!

Before
After

Conclusion

By incorporating these simple tips, you'll find yourself more equipped to tackle low-light scenarios with confidence and produce stunning photography.

Remember the more you practice and experiment, the more confident and prepared you will be when the opportunity for low-light photography calls.

We hope these tips help shine a light on mastering low light photography and guide your path to glowing results too. Got any additional insights on how to become a pro at shooting night time scenes? Share it with us on our community platform! Sign up using this link if you aren’t a member already.

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