Reduce the Noise: Basic Tips for Shooting in Low Light
Shooting in low light situations can leave you with a grainy, muddy image that is probably best left off of your timeline. But even though it can be tricky, there are ways to make your footage look a whole lot better.
Simon Cade of DSLRguide offers some basic solutions when shooting in low light — ones that don't require you to buy a whole new expensive camera that can handle the lack of available light.
If you're a beginner, especially one who doesn't have access to light kits or professional cameras with plenty of latitude, these tips are directed at you.
Use a wide aperture
The standard metaphor to understand how an aperture works is a faucet: the more you open up your faucet (aperture) the more water (light) comes out. Essentially, the wider your aperture the more light hits your sensor. So, if you know you're going to be shooting in low light situations, try to use a lens with the lowest aperture you can get your hands on and then open that baby up.
Shoot with a higher ISO
The ISO measures how sensitive a camera sensor is to light. Cranking it up will make your image more sensitive (lighter), however there are definite drawbacks to using this method. High ISO settings can result in a grainy, muddy image, which, as I said earlier, is best left off of your final project, so it's important to find out the highest ISO you can shoot in your particular low light situation that will not make everything too grainy.
Add more lighting
Okay, duh. Obviously the solution to shooting in low light is to add more light, but hear me out. Cade makes a great point when he says that some people will opt for buying an expensive lens that has a wider aperture, but won't spend the same amount of money on a basic lighting kit. Don't get me wrong, lenses with wide apertures are helpful, even necessary at times, but going to a hardware store and picking up a bunch of clamp lights, gels, and diffusion materials will probably not only give you a better image, but they can be used over and over again in all of your projects.
Shoot somewhere brighter
When all is lost — you don't have a wide aperture lens, your ISO setting is ruining your image, and you don't have access to any lights — move somewhere where there is more light. Yeah, you might have your heart set on that dark alley for a particular scene, but it doesn't matter if you can't even see what's going on. This happens a lot when shooting indoors at night, too. You think that scene in your living room will look just fine until you actually start shooting, but even with all of the house lights on it's still not enough. Try shooting in the day, by a window, or right next to the existing lights in the space.
What are some tips for shooting in low light? Let us know in the comments below!