By Ashley Manley on | No Comments
According to the internet, magic and whimsy happens at golden hour. A home is not complete without huge windows that frame the gorgeous morning sun, and new babies are snuggled in hospital rooms with an angelic-like glow and white blowing curtains.
But the truth is, while some moments can happen in this lovely sensational light, most of life, even the best parts usually happen in less than desirable LOW LIGHT.
In the harsh rays of noon sun, kids laugh and play and learn about bugs and boo-boos. In tiny beds after the sun goes down, over story books and prayers, lasting memories of routines and snuggles happen. And in-between those moments, we are in rooms with artificial overhead lighting with strange shades of yellow that cause all kinds of irritating shadows.
But that’s life, and at the end of the day, we will remember the moments and stories, not the light.
When my friend, Mandi asked me to document her twin boys meeting her new baby when he was born, I was ecstatic…and hopeful it would happen during the day for that mentioned earlier angelic-like glow. But alas, little Luke made his appearance late in the afternoon with the two doting brothers arriving at the hospital at 8:30 PM, with no sign of natural light in sight.
My light loving heart was a little broken. But I remembered these photos were about more than light, they were about moment.
The photos I took didn’t turn out whimsical and light -- it was better, overhead lights and all. It was real and dark, laden with shadows and warm artificial light. Their sweet story, the start of a new chapter, all captured in this less-than-perfect light.
If you are facing a less-than-perfect light photography project, in a hospital or otherwise, that has you all stressed out, fear not! Today I’m going to share with you 3 tips to help you embrace taking photos in low light so you can focus on the moments.
Does this tip make you cry? I have some photographer friends that hate this idea, but I’m not one to fear the ISO. For this session, my ISO stayed between 2500 and 6400. Since the twins were super active and moving around a lot, I kept my SS at 1/250 or faster, with my aperture at 2.8.
Sure, if you zoom in on some of the images you might notice a slight quality degradation because of the high ISO setting, but for me, the options were high ISO or not taking the shot…and in the end, of course, capturing the story and taking the shot is my only objective. Plus you can always use Lightroom to help reduce any noise caused by shooting with a high ISO.
I hate dealing with white balance, but in these kind of scenes especially, it’s important to get it right. If correcting white balance in post-processing is alright with you, you can shoot in auto WB (my camera actually does pretty good in Auto).
But for total control, I recommend shooting in Kelvin. You will get a uniform white balance throughout your shoot and it’s one less thing for you to fix later.
I like to say my editing style is like an enhanced vintage version of real life. Is that a thing? If not, it should be :) However, as much as I like a specific set of tones and color schemes, I had to adjust that for these photos.
This is also true if you are someone that likes light and airy and are faced with a dark and artificially lit hospital room. Light and airy is probably not going to work.
I was SO excited to have the Bella Baby presets for Lightroom for this particular photo session and LOVED the Pat-a-Cake Preset + Contrast for all of the color edits and the Hushabye Preset for all the B&W (note: using these were almost all one-click. I adjusted exposure as needed, shadows on a few, and added grain to the complete the photos). They enhanced the images just enough for my liking and also worked really well with the difficult hospital lighting.
We all would love to live in a world where light looks like it does on the wonderful world of the internet all the time, but real life just isn’t like that…it’s so much more complicated, and so much better.
I hope these tips help set you at ease and keep you shooting, even when the light isn’t ideal!
Do you have any questions or comments about Low Light Photography? Leave us a comment below - we would love to hear from you! And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!