Carnival Time! Photography in Low Light and Zero Flash

When I’m not shooting film, I’m either using my micro four-thirds camera outside to do digital street photography or I’m following the light source from a window.  But what if there’s low light or NO light?

Handheld shot with my Nikon DSLR, no flash

Such was the case a few weeks ago on my way home when I spotted a vibrant carnival in motion. I had always wanted to shoot a carnival, but the challenges were – it was dark, I had no tripod and no flash.

The below images show how you can still shoot low light with NO TRIPOD AND NO FLASH. And I had a blast doing it! Take a note of how the images capture motion,  show superimposed effects and still maintain light and color.

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How and Why to Shoot With No Flash

Sometimes we want to take photographs under low light without using a flash. Maybe it’s not allowed at the moment, or if  maybe we just like the using the available light as much as possible. You CAN take quality photographs, even in low lighting or at night, without the use of a flash. Here’s what works for me.

  1. Shoot RAW so you can work in post processing with programs like Lightroom, Apeture or even iPhoto.
  2. Do you know where your ISO settings are? Crank them up – 640 minimum. It can get grainy but I like that look and you can also adjust post processing.
  3. Two things: Use a larger aperture and slow down the shutter speed. The larger the aperture, the more light (the lower the number, the larger the aperture). Without a tripod, hand-held shots shouldn’t be less than 1/60th of a second.
  4. Turn up the exposure compensation. Most DSLRs let you increment from -3 to +3 stops. Dial it up.

When I do use a flash, I’m shooting an event indoors for someone and can’t afford to lose the image. In general though, I avoid it as much as possible because I hate how it flattens an image.