Have you been enraptured by landscape photography in low light conditions?
Landscape photography can be absolutely breathtaking, and more so in certain types of low lighting conditions. It gives the entire composition an ethereal effect, and can truly help to highlight your skill with the camera.
This article will talk about some of the basics of landscape photography in low light conditions.
Intro to Low Light Landscape Photography
Mastering low light photography is one of the goals of any good photographer. If captured correctly, low light shots can look breathtaking. If done wrong, they look flat and nothing can be deciphered in the image.
With the right technique and equipment, shooting low light photography can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.
Gear for Landscape Photography in Low Light Conditions
Low light landscape photography can be quite expensive if you aren’t careful. Even a basic kit can be good if you can make the best use of it.
Camera Body: for most basic purposes, all you require is a camera where you can control shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. Any mirrorless or DSLR camera with manual mode will suffice.
Lens: Wider lenses are better. However, as long as your lens can get the entire scene into view, it should be fine. If you have some money to spend, getting a lens in the 10 to 20mm range is ideal.
Stabilization: A heavy and big tripod is ideal for landscape photography. Otherwise, a plastic bag filled with sand should suffice for a fairly good number of situations. A tripod will help you use your camera at the lowest ISO, for higher image quality, and a smaller aperture that aids in greater depth of field.
Remote Shutter: Using a remote shutter an eliminate even slight unwanted blurs and camera shakes. A majority of cameras don’t have this feature, and it isn’t compulsory.
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Best Tips for Landscape Photography in Low Light Conditions
1. Preparation is Key
Preparation is crucial when taking night time landscape shots. You must scout for potential locations much before it gets dark.
Once you have zeroed in on a place, do some research to understand the moon phase and weather report there. This will give you an idea of the ideal time to shoot at night. In some instances, a full moon may serve better to illuminate the landscape. In certain cases, a full moon will drown out the stars
It may not be always possible for you to plan your shoot in advance. Doing it as often as you can is a great habit that will make your low light photography a little easier!
2. Camera Settings for Low Light Landscape Photos (Exposure)
Shooting in full manual mode is necessary for low light landscape photography. Understanding how each of the camera settings affects the exposure is critical in capturing great photos.
ISO: Higher ISOs increase the camera sensor’s sensitivity to light, and are more suited for low light situations. However, using too high an ISO also adds noise to the image. Start off with an ISO as low as 100 or 200.
Aperture: The lower the aperture that you are shooting with, the more the light that is allowed into the camera. This enables you to use lower ISOs and faster shutter speeds. Do note that lower apertures reduce the depth of field which is an important factor for landscape photography.
Shutter Speed: A slow shutter speed will allow more light to reach the sensor. This is one of the reasons why a tripod is so important. If you find that a slow shutter speed will affect the overall composition of the image owing to moving entities, you can compensate by adjusting your ISO and aperture appropriately.
3. Exit Auto Mode
In auto mode, you have no or very little control over settings such as ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Without being to manually tweak these as desired, you will not obtain the effect that you want in your low light photographs. Mastering manual focus is an incredibly useful skill that can be used across photography genres.
4. Shoot RAW
The great thing about working with RAW is that you can make multiple edits while post-processing, without losing quality. Additionally, with JPEG, you will have to set the color profile and white balance in-camera, and will not be able to change your mind later. With RAW, you can use tools such as Adobe Lightroom to change these settings and brings out the details in the shadows.
Before You Go
Now that you have a much understanding of landscape photography in low light conditions, it is time for you to give it a shot!