Photo Tips

7 Photographers Share Tips for Shooting in Low Light

Me Ra Koh

This is February’s blog circle where a handful of our teachers and myself share our photos, tips and reflections on a specific theme!  Last month’s theme was “A Day in the Life of a Woman Photographer”, and if you missed it you can still CLICK HERE and be inspired by all the different, beautiful photos our teachers shared!

February’s theme is “Shooting in Low Light”.  It is our best effort to help you make the most of these winter days that seem to hang on!  Our teachers are sharing all kinds of photo tips from shooting night city scenes to sunsets to indoor events to blanket forts with flashlights!

Low light is one of my favorite subjects in photography because the more we grow in confidence with our camera–and how to manipulate the camera’s settings–the more we can venture into the dark, the contrast of light and shadows, and all of this can only happen with low light.  Here is my photo recipe for Low Light!

“Learning to Play Pool”

Low Light-2

While in Egypt, we found the BEST Irish Pub.  Isn’t that sentence just hilarious?  But we did, with the pool table and all.  Like most pubs, there wasn’t much light to work with.  But shooting in low light is about finding the least amount of light you need and maximizing it by where you choose to stand and where you meter.  Brian teaching Pascaline the basics to playing pool was a photo I couldn’t miss!

If you look in the reflection of the framed art on the wall, you can see that there is a window facing Blaze’s back which is why his shirt is so bright.  Brian and Pascaline’s faces get illuminated because they are facing the window light.  There is a bit of light from the three lamps above, but not enough.  The window light was key.  Since Pascaline and Brian are my focus, I metered on their faces to make sure that they had enough light.  As long as their faces are illuminated, it doesn’t matter how dark any thing else is around them.  In fact, the darker every thing else is the more mysterious and dramatic the moment becomes; the way I like it!

My DSLR Settings:  Aperture was f/3.2.  Shutter Speed was 1/100th of a second (or 100 on some of your camera displays).  ISO was 1600.  If you don’t know how to meter (you gotta come to our workshop this weekend!  🙂  One spot left, and a shameless plug!  LOL!).  If metering overwhelms you, the other way to approach this is to focus on Pascaline’s face, slow down my shutter speed–click by click–until the photo I take has enough light on her face.  Voila!  You may not understand how your camera metered and got that light, but you still got the result you wanted which is reason enough to feel great!

Let’s get even lower in our light!

“Pascaline, my early bird”

Low Light-1

She is often up before anyone else in the family.  We had connecting hotel rooms when we were in Luxor, Egypt, and I spied her one morning in the quiet, dark of the other room.  She had opened up her curtains to have just enough morning light to read and still let Blaze stay in the dark to keep sleeping.

I wanted to create a photo, a story, that showed her in this sliver of light.  So I allowed the bedroom door to block out the left third of the frame, off centered her just a bit in my composition, and then metered on her face so that the low light on the beds would stay dark.

My DSLR Settings:  Aperture was f/2.8.  My Shutter Speed was 1/40th of a second (or 40 in some camera displays).  Quick note about this Shutter Speed.  I encourage people to stay above 1/60th of a second with Shutter Speed because you can get camera shake blur from your hands when you go lower, UNLESS, you are shooting with a SONY camera or have an Image Stabilizer feature on your lens.  The SONY cameras have image stabilizers in ALL their camera bodies whether it’s a point-and-shoot or high end DSLR, it is one of the biggest, coolest, separating factors between their cameras and other camera manufacturers.  But if your lens has an IS (Image Stabilizer), you can get this type of shot without camera shake.  Back to the DSLR Settings, my ISO was 4000.  Super high but sooooo worth it!  And as you can see, not much grain.

I also like to turn low light images into Black and White because I often find that this enhances where the light is and where I want people to focus their attention most.

Always feel free to post any questions on my FB page or in the comments on the blog!

We hope this series of posts will inspire, entertain and empower you!  In fact, take your own photo of the month’s theme and post it on my Facebook page!  You don’t have to be a professional photographer to join in the fun.  You can use whatever camera you have; a smart phone, Point and Shoot or DSLR. The most important thing is that you shoot from the heart.

Now head on over to one of our CA CONFIDENCE Teachers, Jess Robertson, to see her photo tips and beautiful examples of shooting in low light!  Her blog will take you to the next teacher!

Seven of us are sharing today!  Be inspired!




  1. […] head on over to see what my brilliant friend and photographer Me Ra Koh has to say about shooting in low […]

  2. Great tips today on Low Light whether it’s window light, night city scenes, indoor performances, sunset, or the blanket fort with a flashlight! Our teachers are here to INSPIRE!

  3. Wonderful tips and beautiful images!!! Love the one of Pascaline having her quiet reading time in the morning. Awesome!!

  4. Raquel says:

    What metering mode are you using?

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