How to Work Around Low Lighting Conditions
Taking mobile photographs in low lighting can be challenging for…
If you yearn for nighttime photos that capture all of the emotions you feel when the sun goes down, you’re not alone. Nighttime photography is an art in itself, and it can be even more difficult to master on a smartphone. Everything from artificial lighting to motion can create blurry, sub-par photos that fail to translate the essence of a nighttime event.
That being said, it isn’t impossible to capture happenings under moonlight, as well as daylight. Here are three secrets you can keep in your back pocket to capture moments you want to remember after the sun sinks below the horizon.
Undoubtedly, stillness is one of the most important factors you need to consider while taking a photo, whether it’s nighttime or daytime. In an evening photo, movement can create blur, stemming from the extended exposure and light sources in the setting. To capture the best shot possible, take your time. Hold still, and place your phone on a stable foundation if possible – this can ensure that even the slightest movement doesn’t disrupt what you’re trying to capture.
In photography, exposure refers to the amount of light applied to a particular area within one shutter cycle. Try to adjust the brightness setting on your camera to capture the best possible shot with your phone. On the iPhone, open the Camera app and wait for the focus box to appear on the screen. A little sun icon will appear to the right side of the box — slide this icon upward to increase the brightness of your shot.
The goal should be to highlight enough of your subject to exhibit color, but not over-highlight – over-highlighting can brighten certain subjects to the point that they lack visual detail. Don’t be afraid to use darker settings to accurately capture the color and detail of your subject.
If there happens to be a light source where you’re taking your nighttime photo, use it. Even low lighting can help you reduce noise and unwanted blur. On a similar note, do everything you can to avoid flash. While it was created with good intention, flash can kill an evening shot, creating harsh and odd-colored lighting. It’s particularly harsh on skin, giving humans a more alien-like look.
Digital zoom can negatively affect any photo, whether it’s taken in the daytime or evening hours. By using zoom, you’re amplifying the shakiness of your hands, as well as noise. Zooming also lowers resolution, potentially eliminating the fine details you want to capture in your subject. Do what you can to avoid zooming – walk up to your subject, if necessary, or shooting and then cropping. In the end, you’ll be happier with the photos you take.
Nighttime photography can be difficult, but with practice, it’s a skill that can come in handy for any smartphone user. Phones are evolving to encompass some of the best digital cameras on the market. However, they still have their flaws, which means that photographers need to have their A-game ready when aiming to capture stunning nighttime photos, whether it’s pre-sunrise or post-sunset.
Written by: Krystle Vermes.
Images by: Olga Otchenasheva. Olga is a family photographer from Russia, now located in Geneva, Switzerland. She received a Silver Award in the 2014 iPhone Awards and Honorable Mentions in the Mobile Photography Awards and iPhone Photography Awards. Her iPhone photos are displayed at Gallery in Madrid and at the Columbus Museum of Art in the US. Olga’s Instagram tells stories about lives of expats in Switzerland. Her account was selected multiple times by Instagram as a suggested gallery.