Part 4 – The Technique
We’re bringing you a helpful and insightful six-part series on photography! Why? Because we want to show you how low-light photography can be mastered and used to expand your mobile entertainment business. Read on!
by Ben Dickmann, Product Manager for CHAUVET Professional and ILUMINARC
Ok, time for the “secret sauce” that separates photography from an Instagram photo. By the way, please don’t get me started on Instagram — digital filters make photos look horrible, put them down and slowly step away. Ok, my PSA is over. First, we are going to look at scenery photos — the action shots you can get pretty easily. While I can’t give you a step-by-step guide for how to make every camera perform, I can give you some guidelines. To get started, grab your user manual and let’s see what we can come up with. If your camera has a “semi-auto” mode, specifically something called aperture priority, that’s awesome.
First things first, mount the camera on the tripod and leave it there. Let’s take a look at the modes your camera has — I generally recommend using it on standard auto mode and not one of the preset modes like “action” or “low light.” Auto mode will generally give you the richest photos, but feel free to try the “low light” or “night” modes if you like. Again, the whole thing here is practice. The biggest secret I can share with you, that will improve your low light photos 10-fold, is to not touch the camera. Find the self-timer feature — this is the feature you use for getting yourself in the family photo. Just about very camera has one and you WANT to use it — not to get yourself in the shot, even though you CAN do that, but you want to get vibration out of the camera. Low light photos require the shutter to be open for longer periods of time — seconds instead of hundredths of a second — and any vibration in the camera will cause the image to be blurry. This is why the tripod is required and why you want to use the self-timer feature. The action of you pushing the shutter button on the camera adds vibration to the shot and will make it blurry. If you use the timer, the camera has time to stop shaking before it takes the picture — hence crystal clear. Now, because you are taking shots that take seconds to capture, you also want to stop any moving lights in the picture. You want everything to be as static as possible, including gobos, lasers and derbies.
For those of you who have an aperture priority mode on your camera, this is great. The aperture of the camera allows you to dictate how much of the photo is in focus — the lower the “f” number (called f-stop), the less that is in focus. Have you seen photos of a candle centerpiece on the table where the background is blurry? That was shot with a low “f” number. So, buy adjusting the f-stop, you tell the camera how much of your picture you want in focus and it will automatically make other adjustments accordingly. For your scenery shots, I recommend setting the f-stop at 5.6, up to a max of 11 or so. A camera in auto mode will often choose the lowest f-stop and not allow you to change it, so you run the risk of only having the center of your image in focus. Again, practice and play with it. However, practice in those venues you don’t care to show, so when you get into a great room, this is second nature and you know what settings your camera likes.