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Photography QnA: Indoor/Low-Light Photography

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Category: All About Photography : Photographing Specific Subjects : Indoor/Low-Light Photography

Want to discuss low light photography candlelight scenes? How about indoor photography exposure settings? Any questions about low-light photography are welcome here.

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Photography Question 
Deepak Damodaran

member since: 5/27/2006
  11 .  Focusing in Low Light Conditions
Can anyone give me tips on how to focus in low light?

10/1/2006 11:38:01 AM

Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/8/2005
  While focusing, shine a flashlight at what you want to shoot.

10/1/2006 1:19:40 PM

Raymond H. Kemp
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/2/2004
  Tell us about your camera, flash and type of lens.

Ray

10/1/2006 1:49:44 PM

Deepak Damodaran

member since: 5/27/2006
  I use a Nikon F55 with a Sigma 70-300mm f4-5.6 lens. The flash I use is the speedlight attached to the camera.

10/1/2006 8:33:12 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  The old standard: keep practicing. Focus on something near, then something across the room. Keep changing distances and try to get quick and accurate. But if you're talking about autofocus, then your camera may just have trouble with that in low light. Look for high contrast spots, or spots that are not as dimly lit - ones that are of equal distance, of course.

10/1/2006 10:37:21 PM

Mike Rubin
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/15/2004
  Good advice from Gregory. Also, if the camera is hunting and cannot focus, switch to manual focus.

10/2/2006 4:00:32 AM

Andrew Laverghetta
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/13/2004
  Look at your manual and figure out how to set the auto focus to a single focus point. After you do that, you will normally have the best luck by pointing that focus point to something that has a strong contrast. If you're trying to focus on something like a persons cheeck in the dark that won't work to well because skin is generally constant. Instead, try the edge of a piece of clothing or of course, the eyes.

10/2/2006 8:59:11 PM

Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/8/2005
  What will you be focusing on?

If a dark horizon, focus to infinity in manual.

If a moving object, well, you need at least some light to focus. It's easier in wide angle.

10/2/2006 9:04:23 PM

Rob Mynhier

member since: 3/16/2006
  The pro I work with has a small flashlight attached to his Custom Bracket.
Rob

10/3/2006 10:46:21 AM

Scott M. Langille

member since: 4/14/2005
  Bring a flashlight. Turn the flashlight on and point it at or near you subject, get your focus, turn the flashlight off and have at it.

10/4/2006 5:48:29 AM

Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/8/2005
  :)

10/4/2006 9:13:38 AM

  I have a Nikon D70 and the Sigma lens. The lens does not focus well in low light. I don't think it's the camera since my other Nikon lenses do fine on auto focus in low light. You'll have to focus it manually.

10/4/2006 11:07:14 AM

Deepak Damodaran

member since: 5/27/2006
  The flashlight technique seems to work.

10/4/2006 11:09:48 AM

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Photography Question 
Nadia Martin

member since: 9/23/2006
  12 .  Shooting Stage Scenes Without Flash
I had offered to take some photos for a local comedy club, but the proprietor was insistent I do not use flash. I have a Canon EOS 350D. The stage is very well-lit, but the room is pitch black otherwise. I put the camera in no-flash mode only, and because the comics are moving around a lot, the pictures come out overly saturated and worst of all, blurred. What am I doing wrong? I tried other settings where the ISO is higher (1600), but still the same problem. Please help!!

9/23/2006 5:35:39 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Expose for just the spot lights, if it's actually well lit. Using just auto will take into account the dark areas outside the spot light. So use exposure compensation with auto-exposure, or use manual and set for just the spot light.

9/23/2006 11:53:03 PM

Erin Tyler
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/30/2005
  I just got done photographing a school play. Set your metering to spot or partial (sorry, I forget the word), and set your ISO at 800 or 1600. I had my camera set on either Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority, mainly on Shutter Priority. Trying to adjust it manually was too hard w/the ever-changing lights I had to work with. Just watch your aperture, if the lighting is too low, you won't have a big Depth of Field.
I also have a very fast lens... the 50mm f/1.4. Something else that may help: Convert your color photos to B&W, since that tends to make even slightly blurry photos look better (and the noise or the grain looks like it belongs there, too). HTH!

9/24/2006 8:24:34 AM

Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/31/2005
  I am sure the proprieter will let you go on stage before the performance. Either get someone to assist, get an 18% gray card, or simply use the palm on your hand in front of the camera to get a meter reading under the same lighting conditions the performers will be working under. Then set your camera to manual so that you keep this reading.

9/24/2006 9:38:28 AM

Greg S. McMillan
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/27/2005
 
 
 
Hi Nadia. You didn't mention what file type you were shooting, but I would guess it would be jpeg. I shot some Elvis Tribute Artists recently and was faced with the same challenge regarding lighting. After a few trial shots and checking the histgram for exposure, I settled with ISO 800, shutter priority mode at 1/100th and zero Exposure compensation. I let the aperture set itself and wasn't too concerned about depth of field because of the dark backdrop.
I shot in RAW and tried the latest version of Adobe Lightroom to process my shoot with very pleasing results, even with the amount of noise I get from my Rebel (300D). I realize that there is a lot more work involved when shooting RAW, but had I shot jpegs, my shoot would not have been successful.

Good Luck,
Greg McMillan

9/26/2006 1:32:04 PM

Ralph L. Nuerenberg

member since: 3/15/2006
  I had a similar problem in that I take photos at indoor equestrian events with high performance gaming horses. Artifical light is impractical. Making my way thru several options I have gotten good success with an f1.2 fast lens (reinforcing a previous commentor). For this type of photo, I can avoid grain by using a lowerer ISO (below 800), have a high shutter speed for clarity, and good exposure to avoid dark photos and reasonable white balance capabilities.

9/27/2006 10:44:26 AM

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Photography Question 
Jordan  Allen

member since: 5/19/2006
  13 .  Concert Photography with Digital Camera
I will be attending a concert in the next few weeks and I am trying to understand the manual settings on my digital camera (Kodak easy Z700). I would like to shoot the show from my seat, which is close - but better to use a zoom. There is a Manual Mode that I can use to set focal length, shutter speed, etc. I would like to get these shots without the use of flash so I don't see all the heads around me. Cheers!

7/2/2006 6:33:02 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  - Keep the flash off,
- Set the ISO to the highest setting that still has acceptibly low noise/grain,
- Set the white balance for "Tungsten" lighting (or daylight if you want a more dramatic red/yellow cast),
- Use A (aperture priority) exposure mode, with aperture set wide open (smallest f-number), or P mode, and
- Use the Z700's Center-Spot metering on the brightly lit performer to set exposure. Set Focus Zone to the Center zone as well.

7/3/2006 5:40:01 AM

Mike Rubin
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/15/2004
  I agree with Jon's suggestions and would like to add that IF your camera alows you to shoot in Raw, you can then have greater latitude in adjusting the white balance if you post-process the image. The downside is that every image shot in Raw needs to be PP. Also stay away from any "Digital" zoom the camera may have and stick to "Optical" zoom. Enjoy the concert!

7/3/2006 8:36:22 AM

Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/31/2005
  Before going, check to see if photography and cameras are allowed. Most top-draw concerts don't allow them.

7/3/2006 9:12:52 AM

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Photography Question 
Patrycja Adamowska
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/12/2006
  14 .  Pictures of Band ... But Out of Focus
 
Hi! I recently took pics of the guys playing in the band... Unfortunately, the pictures came out blurred. It is not the first time that this has happened. It happens also when I use tripod. Does somebody have an idea why it happens? I am using Canon Power Shot Pro1. Is it possible that my camera is damaged? Thanks for any sugestions.

6/16/2006 6:12:23 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Howdy, Pat. If you look at your results and nothing is sharp then what you're likely suffering from is camera-shake, even on your tripod. If that's so, I'd ask if you're using a cable release or just depressing the shutter release. Or, if you're using an autofocus camera, there may be something wrong with that, so I'd get it checked by a reputable repair shop.
If something is in focus - anything, like in the background or some pieces of band equipment - then you need to determine whether your subjects are moving around too much for the shutter speed you're using, or whether you need to be working at a faster shutter speed. Sometimes in those situations - i.e., shooting live performances - you can do a lot to stop the motion of your subjects by using a bit of fill flash, even working at slower shutter speeds.
Take it light.
Mark

6/18/2006 3:32:35 PM

Peggy D. Odegard-Coleman

member since: 12/6/2002
  Hi Patrycja,

If the lighting was low, which I suspect, then you need to set your cameras ISO setting to 400 or maybe 800. Using your tripod should also make a difference when you change this setting. Take some practice shots at home with the lights low and see what you get.
Best Wishes,
Peggy

6/20/2006 3:43:28 AM

George Lee

member since: 6/15/2006
  I have noticed with any stage-lit events that sometimes the lighting throws off the autofocus. It's been an ongoing problem for me my G2 Powershot.

6/20/2006 7:04:11 AM

Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2005
  It may just be a focussing problem (manual or auto ?) especially if strong lights are pointing directly into the camera or you are moving the camera which is set on auto focus.
I suggest you try manual pre-focus, and a tripod (or stay very steady). If the problem is still blurry pics then it must be a camera problem.
I have just took approx 260 pics of an amateur play (35 people all moving all over the place across a decent size stage). I had about 10-20% blurry subjects... because of their movement in low-ish light, even though I was using max ISO 1600 speed.
Biggest problem I had was the "players" constantly moving in and out of spotlights, which made exposure settings hell, and in the end somewhat of a guessing game for correct exposures.
A music band may be more static on stage with spots trained on specific places.

6/20/2006 7:46:39 AM

Ellery Samuels
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/26/2006
  Using a tripod is of course a good idea. I have found that at many concerts the floor has a slight (and at many more than a slight) shake because of the audience dancing, moving about etc.. Could be a reason why!
Also, manual focus if possible helps. I understand what others above have found and I have found that manual focusing is a big help.

6/20/2006 2:02:44 PM


BetterPhoto Member
  Is there any way you could post a picture so we can see first hand what you are describing?

I shoot one of our local bands and have a few different shoots posted on my website if you are interested in seeing them.

Scroll down to the bottom Probably Bob is the name of the band...I think that there are three of them posted right now.

All of my shots were taken with a 20D or a 30D with one of 3 lens.

28 1.8
50 1.8
85 1.8

almost all were 1600 ISO, some though were 800.

I handheld with all of them with shutter speeds 1/80th or higher.

Good Luck!
amber

6/20/2006 2:29:43 PM

Patrycja Adamowska
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/12/2006
  Thank you for all responds wich I found very helpful. Mark- I think it happens to me very often that I don't hold my camera stady.That may be one reason why my pic. are not focused or blured. And Peggy- I took pic. in the church during baptizm ceremony few days ago. First I was using light and pic. came nice but when the prist told me to turn off the lighht- pic. came blured even there wasn't to much movement..So I found the answer to this question. :-) And many times I do use autofocus becouse I want nice pic. and don't wanna loose some nice shots..But I see that I have to experiment more otheriwise I will never learn how really take nice pictures.. ;-)Thanks for other responds too.. Greeting to all. I will be keep trying shooting.

6/20/2006 2:34:21 PM


BetterPhoto Member
  sorry I forgot my link....

www.photographicsgallery.net

6/20/2006 2:35:58 PM

Ben LindoPhotography

member since: 12/6/2005
  I dont think your cameras broken.

Like people have probably already said (im too tired to read all of it heh), It was most likely caused due to the darkness, the shutter needs to stay open longer to let in more light, meaning the shutter speed will be 'slow' . If people move, which they often do, then they will appear blurred. Also focusing is more difficult in dark so it could be out of focus as well its hard to say without loookin at the type of blur your talking about.

If you can change the settings on your camera, use a high ISO and use a low f/stop number.
If you cant do that, you can always try using an old film SLR camera.

6/20/2006 6:33:19 PM

Patrycja Adamowska
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/12/2006
 
 
 
HI Amber.I checked your link. Love your pic. of band.I was just taking pic. of some young teens band.But I noticed that I have a problem to catch just something that is moving. Not only members of the band. I will put some exapmples. ;-) thanks to all.

6/21/2006 6:49:10 AM

Patrycja Adamowska
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/12/2006
 
 
 
My pic. :-)

6/21/2006 5:46:20 PM

Jackson Yw Wong

member since: 4/9/2006
  Your blur problem might be that the camera is not a SLR, and the shutter is not mechancial shutter, and when you depress the shutter, the infrared beam finds the target, and reflects back to the cmera and takes the picture, where as the SLR's shutter fires when you click it...did you set the brightness (Ev) to the max, usually +2, that allows more light in.
I have a canon D10, and that works well in doors but very poor lighting, will make the picture dark, and sometimes Photoshop can brighten the picture enough to view, and sometimes for a decent print too.

6/21/2006 6:31:50 PM

Ben LindoPhotography

member since: 12/6/2005
  Jackson W. Its not that the persons camera isnt an SLR. Camera shake is actually LESS of a problem with smaller cameras using smaller sensors.

As I suspected, it seems its because the camera is using slow shutter speeds.
Which is what its supposed to do when theres not enough light.

You need to use flash, or pump up the iso if your camera allows you to change that setting.


6/21/2006 8:05:29 PM

 
 
 
I use a manual focus film SLR exclusively on stage shots. I also use a powerful flash (GN 130 @ ISO 100). It looks like you are suffering from camera shake on your prints since none of the frame is in focus. You either need a faster shutter speed or a good flash as everyone else said.

Have fun and keep shooting,
Mark H.

6/23/2006 8:21:53 AM

Patrycja Adamowska
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/12/2006
  thank you to all. :-) I will be keep shooting. :-) I hope I will shoot something unique. ;-)))

6/23/2006 10:09:56 AM

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Photography Question 
Damian P. Gadal
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/22/2002
  15 .  Black Reflective Surface
Any ideas on what to use as a black reflective surface. Very reflective like a mirror? I tried to fun something like black glass at Home Depot... no luck.

5/13/2006 5:41:01 PM

  I've been told to get black plexiglass. I was also told clear plexiglass would work and you could put whatever color under it you wanted and it would reflect the subject but that did not work for me. Very little reflection with the clear plexiglass. I tried spray painting one side of a piece of glass with black paint with ok results. It reflected a lot better than the clear plexiglass.

5/13/2006 8:28:24 PM

Damian P. Gadal
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/22/2002
  Where would you get black plexiglass? The kid at the hardware store had no clue as to what I was after or how to help...

tia

5/14/2006 8:43:06 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Well, black plexiglas won't do it because it's not mirrored so all you're going to have is a large black mostly non-reflective surface.
One way to do this, however, is to get a large-sized roll of mirrored mylar film, some 4x8 sheets of foamcore that's white on one side and black on the other, reflect the black side of the foamcore into the mirrored mylar and voila !!! Looking in the viewfinder, the black reflected in the mylar will produce a black reflective surface that you can place objects on or in front of.
Using large mirrored walls works, like closet doors, etc., but sometimes that's hard to set up. Mylar is much easier to work with. BUT be careful not to wrinkle it. It's somewhat like aluminium foil, but a bit more flexible.
Attach your foamcore using some kind of tough tape to make a vertical seam running down the entire panels, so the end result is that it's hinged and you can open it at a 45-degree angle to stand on its own facing the reflective surface. Make your seam fairly tight, I like using black gaffers tape for that, and make sure you can't see the seam in the viewfinder when you set your camera.
Both techniques are tricky to light but it works. You need to shoot in a space where you can get it totally dark and really control your lighting.
Both the foamcore and mylar are available from a company called Studio Specialties - http://www.superspec.com/cat2001/index.html. Most medium to large photo stores also carry their backgrounds.
Take it light.
Mark

5/14/2006 10:02:25 AM

Damian P. Gadal
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/22/2002
  Thank you so much!

5/14/2006 10:15:17 AM

L. W.

member since: 1/28/2004
  Go to a store that does custom glass and mirrors for door, windows, walls, etc. Ask for black mirror and you can get it cut to the size you need.

5/17/2006 12:23:23 PM

  What I've done for this is to place a regular piece of transparent glass over either black fabric or black foamcore. Works perfectly.

5/17/2006 5:44:05 PM

Anthony Cancelliere

member since: 1/14/2004
  I've had great results with painting one side of plexiglass with high gloss spray paint in thin coats... flip it over to the unpainted side and start shooting.... just remember to keep it clean so it's super shiny. and the black mirror idea sounds good.. I might try that one myself. unfortunately my local glas shop doesn;t carry black mirror or even the white glas/plexi so I can build a small lightbox.. guess I have to keep looking. good luck !

5/17/2006 9:59:51 PM

Michael H. Cothran

member since: 10/21/2004
  One of the previous posts is incorrect - Black plexiglas is the best way to go for a black mirror effect. But you obviously want to purchase the shiny, not the matte version. It can be purchased from a Plastics dealer in your area. Look in the yellow pages under "Plastic." It comes in 1/8" and 1/4" thicknesses. I use and recommend the 1/8". Simply specify the dimensions you desire, and they'll cut it to size for you. I use both black and white plexiglas in my own studio - mainly for jewelry, and have sizes cut to 8x10, 11x14, and 20x20.
In addition, the white plexiglas makes an ideal "softbox." White is available in an assortment of densities. For use as a softbox, you would want a fairly low density, in order to allow maximum light to pass through. Three sheets (maybe 11x14) taped together in an upside-down "U" make a great light box.
One word of caution - plexiglas is somewhat expensive, and scratches quite easily. Just be careful when placing items on it, or when cleaning it.
Michael H. Cothran

5/18/2006 11:40:20 AM

David King

member since: 9/12/2004
  An old studio photog's trick was to get a sheet of glass and spray paint one side of it gloss black. Several coats were used to give an even and solid coat, then the class was turned over, shiny side up (painted side down) and used. With this technique masks could be used to create "knock-out" areas in the black where light could shine through for doing "white Line" lighting on glass ware or for filling a bottle of darker liquid with light and visual life. if this were the intention then the painted side needed a good coat so no uneveniess showed through when the light underneath was on.

N. David King
www.ndavidking.com

5/19/2006 7:25:14 AM

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Photography Question 
Zoltan Erdesz

member since: 5/17/2005
  16 .  How to Shoot in an Aquarium
I'm going to the Vancouver Public Aquarium, and would appreciate tips for shooting indoors of large fish tanks, sharks, etc. Also, I have DSLR Rebel. Thanks!

2/24/2006 7:05:08 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  The trick to doing this successfully is to get (preferably) a rubber lens hood for your lens(es). Turn your flash off, get right up against the glass to eliminate reflections, take a meter reading, and blast away. No, you do not need a polarizer because you're going to be shooting directly against and through the glass. The lens hood also prevents you from scratching the glass. And ... bring along something you can use to clean the glass with - e.g. fingerprints, ice cream stains, mustard, etc. Yaknowhatimeanhuh?
Take it light.
Mark

2/24/2006 7:28:16 PM

Zoltan Erdesz

member since: 5/17/2005
  Thanks, Mark. Great advice...

2/24/2006 7:57:46 PM

  And if it's cool outside, like it is today in Tacoma, Wash... and the aquarium is warm/moist: Keep the camera in its case or whatever till it warms up to room temperature to prevent moisture on the camera.

2/25/2006 8:40:48 AM

Phyllis C. Stockfisch

member since: 4/21/2004
  I just asked Jim Zuckerman the same question. He said to be sure not to shoot at an angle or it will distort the picture. It worked for me! By the way, pick up next months' Shutterbug, Jim said the he has an article coming out on how to shoot in an aquarium.

2/28/2006 4:50:41 AM

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Photography Question 
Patricia M. Birkmeyer

member since: 2/19/2006
  17 .  Photographing Action in Dark Auditorium
My daughter competitively dances. It is an an auditorium that is dark, while the stage is brightly lit. We are not allowed to use a flash. I need to know how to control both the ISO speed (faster needed for action shots) but yet get in enough light without a flash.

2/19/2006 7:29:34 PM

Bob Fately

member since: 4/11/2001
  Patricia,

Ir your camera is a DSLR type and you can do this, set the meter to spot-metering mode. This means that the internal light meter will read only the light seen in the central small area of the viewfinder - the idea being to properly expose the stage and actors and not care about the outer areas falling into shadow.
If you have a point-and-shoot type camera, then you are stuck. If you can change lenses then the next thing to do would be to set the ISO to the highest available (this means the chip will be most sensitive to light) - the 'penalty' you pay for this is noise (kind of like grain in film).
The next thing to do would be to get as fast a lens as you can. This means a lens with a low f-number - which indicates it passes more light than a slower lens. When using said lens, use aperture preferred mode on the camera (again, if possible) - and set the lens wide open. Hopefully, with the spot metering and a fast lens and high ISO setting, the meter will select a shutter speed that will freeze motion rather than allow blurred action.

2/19/2006 9:20:59 PM

Diane Dupuis-Kallos
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/27/2003
  I have a point-and-shoot type and have been able to shoot shows. You have to be able to manually control your shutter speed and aperture, though. Everything will depend on the lighting on stage, of course. If there is any way you can go to the real dress rehearsal to practice, that will really help... I use a monopod to keep things steady (no room for tripod in the audience). ISO 400 or 800, aperture 3.2 (or as low as you can go), shutter speed between 1/25 and 1/60. I shoot in aperture priority and adjust for each scene. I've shot several shows at my son's school now (both theater and fashion/dance).

2/20/2006 3:59:02 AM

Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Ken
Ken's Gallery

member since: 6/11/2005
  Patricia,
You're in a quandary. For action shots, you need as fast a shutter speed as you can get. Which means you need a fast lens and ideally, with image stabilization. Definitely use a tripod or monopod. If you don't have one, then brace it against a railing or something.
There's also a rule of thumb that relates shutter speed to focal length, when hand-holding. Basically, to avoid camera blur when hand-holding, the shutter speed should be at least one over the focal length. For example, if your focal length is 50mm, then you need shutter speed of 1/50 sec. If you zoom to 200mm, then you need 1/200 sec. But, the faster shutter speeds mean you need more light, and, hence, your quandary.
I would try to dial in 1/60 sec and, hopefully, your camera can find an aperture that works. Otherwise, use the most wide-open aperture that you can. Then, bump your ISO as high as you can. Many cameras go to 1600 or 3200. The trade-off is grain. But, you can remove the grain with software tools like Photoshop Elements. Noise Ninja is excellent.
Finally, even if your picture is underexposed, you can use editing software to enhance the lighting. Good luck!

2/20/2006 5:56:55 AM

Michael McCullough

member since: 6/11/2002
  Why not just try 1600 speed film,a little bit of grain but overall the images should be fine I recommend Fuji.

2/21/2006 9:59:23 AM

  I have to agree with Michael on this one. Fuji is a film with excellent color saturation, and I used a roll of 800 ISO bumped to 3200ISO to shoot a predatory bird display at a local theme park. The prints came out somewhat grainy, but are very useable.

2/21/2006 11:01:48 AM

Ken Smith
BetterPhoto Member
Contact Ken
Ken's Gallery

member since: 6/11/2005
  Mark and Michael, assuming the digital camera goes to ISO 1600, wouldn't it be better to shoot digital? At least you can use software to remove the noise and make other edits. But, I know film has many advantages.

2/21/2006 5:32:38 PM

Nancy Grace Chen
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/18/2004
  All good advice. I'm going to assume you have digital since that's the only advice I can give. I've shot a couple of recitals (example), and here's what I do:

Set ISO to 800 or 1600 if necessary
Put camera in aperture priority mode and use widest aperture possible (2.8 or 3.5)
Use tripod!
Dial in exposure compensation: -1

For some reason, stage lights cause burnout really easily. Every time I've done stage photography, putting the exposure comp on -1 has done the trick.

Good luck!
Nancy

2/21/2006 9:57:25 PM

Denyse Clark
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/2/2002
  Nancy- I love your example shots!!

My boyfriend's daughter is in a school play tonight and I haven't done a lot of work in a dark auditorium w/ bright stage, so I've been searching threads for info.

I'm going to try your suggestions, except as someone mentioned above, no room for a tripod so I'm bringing my monopod. I wouldn't have thought to underexpose, thanks for the tip!

3/31/2006 9:01:54 AM

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Photography Question 
Kalina J. Rumbalski

member since: 6/30/2005
  18 .  Inexpensive Indoor Lighting Solutions
I don't have any good lighting for indoor photography, and I don't have the income right now to buy a set. Are there any light bulbs I could buy and put into any conventional lamp?

12/16/2005 10:23:10 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Greetings, Kalina. If you're talking about putting high-wattage photo flood lamps into like a table lamp, I wouldn't recommend that. You'll probably fry the lamp socket.
What you can do, however, is go down to a local hardware store or a place like Lowes or Home Depot, and in their electrical department, you'll likely find some clamp-on type sockets with reflectors, either 6" or 10". You don't need to use them with photo floods, just regular bulbs. They're cheap, portable, pretty durable, and will help you control your lighting. OR, some of the quartz/halogen work lights might be what you need. They're available in 250 or 500 watt varieties. These are also relatively inexpensive, $10 - 20 bucks. You can even get them on stands. Look at the tool department at Sears also.
If you're shooting on color film, you'll need to experiment to determine whether you have to use a filter when using incandescent lights. Depends on the effect you want.
Take it light.
Mark

12/16/2005 1:05:38 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Hello, Kalina,
The problem with using standard bulbs in a basic lamp socket is manyfold. Probably the three issues that will fight you the most are, "Amount or intensity", "Directivity" and "Color Problems."
Good interior photography usually requires a lot of light ... even a 100-watt bulb is not that bright in the photographic world.
Secondly, it is difficult to control "where" you want the light to fall. Mark's response is a good one given a limited budget ... at least with the inexpensive hardware store clamp-on reflector lights, you have "some" control over the "directivity" of the light.
Finally, "color balance" using incandescent lights can be a real pain in the butt! Although many cameras can compensate for various light color sources, the incandescent bulb will fluctuate in color over just a few moments.
If you shoot black and white, this color balance problem is NOT an issue obviously.
Finally, if you do use lights with reflectors, try to diffuse the light ... i.e., hang some sort of "non-colored" (white) cloth or plastic in front of the lights.
This will help reduce the harsh light and shadows associated with straight on lighting.
Hope that helps a little.
Pete

12/16/2005 5:08:45 PM

Leonard Anderson

member since: 7/11/2000
  Kalina,
The book "Invitation to Portraiture", by Evelyn Zeek may be the answer to your question. She taught classes using what she described as the EZ method. She passed about five years ago but a search of the Internet should yield a source for the book. If you are not able to find it, I have the book and would happy to share it with you.

12/20/2005 8:53:00 AM

Kalina J. Rumbalski

member since: 6/30/2005
  Thank you! The ideas should point me in the right direction. Leonard I would be interested in looking a the book. I did a few seached on amazon and Barn n Noble, and I didn't find it.

12/20/2005 9:14:29 AM

April Holahan

member since: 10/18/2005
  Kalina,
I have just recently begun taking portraits indoors and have set up a little studio in my garage. I made backdrops out of muslim material hung on a stand made out of PVC pipe and also have some very inexpensive lights that work just fine for me at the moment. I got the clamp lights at Home Depot that could support a 300 watt light bulb and went to a hardware store and got some 300W bulbs. Then I made some T stands out of 2 pieces of 2*4s from Home Depot. B&H Photo had 32" Optical White Umbrellas on sale for $12.95, so I got some of them. I drilled some holes at different levels into my stands to slide the umbrella in, and clamped my lights on and it has worked great for me. I have just experimented with different levels, positions of the stands, and shadowing by just having one light on. But, going back to other people's responses, I have only used these for black and white photography, so I am not sure about color. This was the cheapest way I could find, though, and they look nice. Hope this helps!

12/20/2005 10:37:49 AM

  A lot depends on what you are photographing. If it is still life, the above solutions are great. If it is people, the lighting will be too slow. Another solution would be to purchase small inexpensive 'slave' flash units that can be placed in various positions and will be triggered by your camera's flash. If you have the ability for off-camera flash, all the better. These slaves can be purchased through Porter's Camera Store http://www.porters.com/, as well as other mail-order outfits listed in the back of most photo magazines.

12/20/2005 11:20:59 AM

Norbert Maile

member since: 7/28/2004
  There are available "Daylight Bulbs" which when used require no filters or color correction with color film. They are available in 250 and 500 watt but they run hot and only have a limited number of "good" hours before the color correction degrades. You could put them in a standard socket and make a reflector to direct the light where you want or for $150.00 you can buy a 3 light kit with stands sockets shades. The bulbs only cost about $5.00 each.

12/21/2005 8:08:52 PM

Bob Chance
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/19/2006
  Kalina:

Check out this site.
http://www.backdropsource.com
They have some really good prices on complete lighting outfits, either incadescent or strobe both AC and monolights.
Their two light 500Watt set up starts at under $100 and includes stands, reflectors 10" and two stands.
If however, you go the clamp on light route and use something to diffuse the light, please be careful not to place your material too close to the light. Even with only 100watt bulb can generate enough heat to catch fabric on fire if it comes in contact with it.


Bob

3/23/2006 5:01:00 PM

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Photography Question 
Tom W. Winn

member since: 1/17/2005
  19 .  Photographing Through a Window Screen
What are the camera settings for shooting thru a window screen?

12/11/2005 2:45:44 PM

Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/13/2004
  hmmm? what's a window screen? the screen that keeps bugs out?

12/11/2005 2:55:27 PM

Brendan Knell
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/17/2005
  If you've got a manual focus, try playing with that.

12/11/2005 5:20:46 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Greetings, Tom. There are no specific settings per se, but there are mainly two ways to shoot through a screen, which, by the way, acts somewhat like a light diffuser. One technique - to eliminate the screen in the photo entirely - is to get your lens up as close as you can to the screen and focus on whatever you want in the outside world. Then set your camera according to your built-in meter. If you're using a handheld light meter, just point that through the screen and take a reading.

The other way is to use the screen as a diffuser for whatever is in the background. In that situation, you've basically got a depth of field choice to make. To get the screen in focus along with the outside world, set your camera 1/3 of the distance from the screen to whatever you want in focus outdoors and check your depth of field by stopping down the lens to the f-stop you want to work at in order to maintain sharpness. Or, just focus on the subject at the window, if any, take a reading, set your camera and blast away.

Oh, and if you're shooting through some kind of chain-link fence, to eliminate the fence just get up close and personal to it and focus on the subject on the other side of the fence. That'll eliminate the fence in the scene.

Take it light.
Mark

12/11/2005 6:22:36 PM

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Photography Question 
Elizabeth Locke

member since: 12/3/2005
  20 .  Photographing in an Aquarium
I need tips for photographing at an indoor aquarium. I use the Canon Digital Rebel user-75-300mm zoom. Should flash be used? How high an ISO rating? How to avoid reflections from glass? Thanks.

12/3/2005 7:57:16 PM

  Use at least 400 ISO. And, to avoid reflection, get as close to the glass as you can (right ON it, if possible). They say you can use flash if you're right up on the glass, but I never have.

12/4/2005 3:10:58 AM

Margie M. Heldt
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/6/2005
 
 
 
I took photos in an indoor aquarium with my older Sony DSC 85 digital. I had it on auto with the flash off. The only thing I did was to point the camera to focus at a distant point and then I brought it over and took the photo through the glass ... no reflections at all.
I will put up a sample for you to see ... if it doesn't appear, I have the same one in my gallery ... and you can see it there.
Margie

12/4/2005 8:41:13 AM

Candy Newbury
BetterPhoto Member
candy-works.net

member since: 5/14/2004
  Using a circular polarizing filter will also cut down on the glare. This works best if you shoot at a slight angle. I frequently use flash at a local zoo with pets behind the glass and never get reflections with the polarizer.

12/6/2005 6:47:40 AM

Mary N C. Taitt
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2005
  Flash really brings out the colors and makes them look really fluorescent. You can use it if you tip the camera just slightly or use a remote flash against the glass.

12/6/2005 8:28:40 AM

Paul Michko
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/23/2004
  If you purchase a rubber lens hood at your local photo store, it works as a good buffer so you can go right up to the glass. No reflections, because no side light can get in. You can then use flash, if you wish, without any stray reflection.

12/6/2005 8:34:56 AM

anonymous A. 

member since: 9/19/2005
 
 
 
The lighting inside the tanks makes a difference, too, but I have had no trouble shooting through glass so long as you follow the tips on getting as close as possible (those folding rubber lens hoods Paul mentioned are excellent for this); but the best thing of all is to get inside the tanks with a waterproof camera!

12/6/2005 4:49:13 PM

Carol Kalinowski
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/24/2005
 
 
 
You want as much light as possible above the tank.Add an extra strip light or two.
If you have on-board flash,fold a paper towel in half and hold loosely over the flash.Angle down slightly and get as close as possible to the glass.
I'm adding a few images that I have taken in this manner using an oly c-765 uz with flash.

12/13/2005 5:47:39 AM

Carol Kalinowski
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/24/2005
 
 
 
If it allows me to upload the images this time :/

12/13/2005 5:48:40 AM

Debbie K. Faulkner

member since: 5/2/2002
  focus and get lens as close to glass and tip camera up. Took pictures at Rippleys Aquarium great pictures No glare..

12/13/2005 7:32:55 AM

Carol Kalinowski
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/24/2005
  Debbie,I've found that aiming at an upward angle ,more often then not,produces some nasty white glare and/or reflections if you're using an on-board flash. Do you have any examples you can show of yours?

12/13/2005 8:13:03 AM

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