Skills AKA Mix and Match
The best way to improve your low light photography is simply to experiment and examine the results, mix and match your techniques to get the results you want e.g extend your exposure time and use a lower ISO for long light trails or use a high ISO and open your f stop up for a shallow depth of field.
Examples and Descriptions
All these shots are taken in available light (no flash, no reflector or other added light). I chose these examples because they have a variety of different settings to get the desired results.
When I saw the screen of my friends Dynax 5D this shot just jumped straight out at me. I need to have a very shallow d.o.f to isolate the camera and blur the background. I also needed a shutter speed that was fast enough to use hand held.
Camera: Sony DSLR-A900
Exposure: 0.033 sec (1/30)
Focal Length: 50 mm
ISO Speed: 3200
ISO Speed: 3200With the shallow d.o.f the eye is drawn to the subject, the highlights in the background help to contour the subject. As my camera was resting on the arm of a chair it acted as a makeshift support and so a longer exposure time wasn’t a big deal. I had to do some noise reduction in lightroom and improved the contrast but nothing drastic…
This is a photo of one of my fave photographers on flickr (just in time) we were at the pub talking about film noir and decided to take a few photos in the classic style. The problem here was that with such a slow exposure and high ISO I had a lot of digital noise, but it is easy to hide in a high contrast black and white.
Camera: Konica Minolta Dynax 7D
Exposure: 0.4 sec (2/5)
Focal Length: 17 mm
ISO Speed: 100
I went into the Paris Metro knowing what shot I wanted to make. I set up my tripod down one end of the platform and waited for my chance. After several shots I finally worked out my exposure time.
When I saw the woman in yellow standing there I had to react quickly, but I already had my tripod set up to shoot the water fall any way. I got lucky, she didn’t move during the exposure thank you anonymous woman in yellow.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Sony’s built in image stabilisation AKA Super Steady Shot, is a great advantage when using lower exposure speeds you can win 1 or 2 stops of light. That said the higher level ISO from Sony can get a bit noisy so you will have to deal with noise reduction software in post production for the best results.