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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.

Page 7 : 61 -65 of 65 questions

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Photography Question 
Richard 

member since: 11/9/2002
  61 .  Shooting Caves
Does any one have advice (film speed / exposure settings) for shooting in caves? I am on my way to Carlsbad Caverns and hope to get some decent pics. I use a Rebel 2000 with the Elchepo 28-90 and a Tamron 100-300 lens.

8/27/2003 5:20:53 PM

Wayne Attridge

member since: 9/27/2002
  Exposure settings will depend on available light. You will have to meter or use the camera's meter for that. As far as film speed goes, your elchepo zoom is probably not very fast, I'm guessing maybe 3.5 or 4.0 to 5.6. If this is the case, I would maybe use Fuji Pro 800 or something in that range. I don't generally use Kodak Max, which is rated at 800 - 1000 but this may be a good alternative (check the Kodak website)

8/28/2003 3:25:14 AM

Darwin A. Mulligan

member since: 11/25/2002
  I was at the Carlsbad Caverns last summer. I shot Velvia slide film (ISO 50)with my Pentax 645 medium format camera on a tripod. My exposure times ranged from 30 seconds to over 2 minutes depending on the available light in the scene. When shooting over 30 seconds-> add extra time to your exposure to allow for reciprocity failure of the film.

Regards
Darwin
www.northernexposure.4t.com

9/3/2003 6:39:21 AM

Richard 

member since: 11/9/2002
  Thanks for the input. I just got my pics back. No really good ones. I did use Kodak max 800 but my 28-90 is just too slow.

Maybe next time, Richard

9/3/2003 5:45:56 PM

Wayne Attridge

member since: 9/27/2002
  Richard, It sounds like you may just need a tripod and a longer exposure time. If your camera meter won't give you a reading, perhaps you could borrow a light meter from someone. That might help. You could also do some test shots at home with comparable light conditions . Try different exposure times and be sure to write down what you shoot. When you get the film back you will have a pretty reasonable idea of what you need to do. Good luck.

9/3/2003 9:43:16 PM

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Photography Question 
CECILIA 

member since: 7/13/2003
  62 .  WHAT SPEED FILM TO USE FOR LOWLIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
I HAVE A MINOLTA 35MM SLR CAMERA WITH THE PORTRAIT, LANDSCAPE, NIGHT, ETC. SETTINGS. MY HUSBAND IS IN A BAND AND I WILL BE TAKING PICTURES IN LOWLIGHT CONDITIONS. WHAT IS THE BEST FILM SPEED TO USE ? I ALSO WILL BE USING A TELEPHOTO LENS. THANK YOU !

7/13/2003 1:33:36 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
 
 
 
Cecilia,

How fast is your lens (widest aperture setting)??

For these types of photographs (small blues club) I use mostly Kodak TMax P3200 and have used a couple rolls of Ilford Delta 3200 in the past. I shoot at EI 1600 and have the negatives developed Push 1. Lens is an 85mm f/2 with aperture set to f/2.8 and shutter speed typically 1/30th or 1/60th second depending on how well the individual is illuminated. At f/2.8 and the distance I work from the bands, depth of field is usually about six inches! The lighting is not very bright . . . all run-of-the-mill floodlights with colored gels on them.

Both TMax P3200 and Delta 3200 have a nominal speed rating of ISO 800. They were designed to be pushed to ISO 3200 without becoming too contrasty or too grainy, and can be pushed to even higher speeds (with contrast and grain becoming prominent). At EI 1600, they should be developed Push 1; if used at EI 3200 they should be developed Push 2.

Unless you soup your own B&W negatives and are familiar with push processing, the film must be taken to a full-service professional lab. The great majority of consumer labs will look at you as if you've been smoking something funny if you mention "push processing" to them . . . and even if they do understand what it is, they're not equipped to do it. You will pay an additional fee of several dollars for the push processing as the film developing is different from B&W negative film that hasn't been pushed and the pushed film must be developed separately in its own run.

In using TMax P3200 at EI 1600, it has an appearance similar to Tri-X Pan. Nothing wrong with the Ilford film, I simply prefer the look that Kodak's renders. Someone else might prefer the Ilford.

If you can meter where your husband will be playing a week or so in advance, do so! I recommend the two B&W films based on not knowing exactly what you will find. If EI 1600 isn't fast enough, put the film speed dial on your camera to EI 3200 . . . before firing the first frame. Whatever speed you use it at, you must shoot the entire roll at that speed.

If you can meter it in advance and are able to use EI 1600, a color alternative is Fuji Press 1600 (a.k.a. Superia 1600). This is a true ISO 1600 film and doesn't require push processing. For the blues club I've been shooting, B&W has proven to be very fitting for it.

Note the shutter speeds I've used . . . 1/30th and 1/60th. At 1/30th it's very difficult to hand hold an 85mm lens without noticeable camera shake and it took a little practice with stance and bracing.

I'm posting a couple of examples for you to get a feel for what I've gotten using TMax P3200 at EI 1600.

-- John

7/14/2003 6:44:56 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
 
 
  Blues #1
Blues #1
TMax P3200 @ EI 1600; 85mm lens; f/2.8 @ 1/30th
 
  Blues #4
Blues #4
TMax P3200 @ EI 1600; 85mm lens; f/2.8 @ 1/30th
 
  Blues #11
Blues #11
TMax P3200 @ EI 1600; 85mm lens; f/2.8 @ 1/30th
 
  Blues #12
Blues #12
TMax P3200 @ EI 1600; 85mm lens; f/2.8 @ 1/30th
 
 
Here are the images

7/14/2003 6:56:50 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
 
 
 
First thing I would say is yes, you do need a 2.8 lens or at least as close as you can get to it. Second is to get away from depending on those landscape, portrait, action, etc. settings with the little pictures on the dial and try and learn as much as you can with the aperature priority, shutter prority, and esspecially the manual settings, and your spot meter if you have one.
If you don't have a spot meter on your camera, try to get as close as you can and fill the frame with whoever you're shooting. And try to do it when they are in the brightest part of the lights if they are moving around. Get a reading off of something like their clothes if they are wearing something that is a medium brown, or medium gray. What ever the camera says would be the correct exposure would probably be pretty close. Or you could try and take a reading off of their face, and from what ever that says, open up at least an f-stop if that will put you in a fast enough shutter speed range. If you try reading off their clothes and they are wearing black, you'll have to decrease exposure maybe around 1&1/2.
You can get pictures by shooting around 1/30, but you'll have to time it right, and make sure you're holding the camera still.
Try timing it on an extended note, if it's a singer. Or sometimes when they first start to sing a line, because sometimes a singer will bob their head back or move away from the mic when the finish a line to a song.
But you don't have to use 3200, you can use something like fuji's 800. Unless the lighting is real dark. Stage lighting usually gives you somewhere around 1/125 of a second, it's just that everything else around the subject is so dark that the camera's meter dosen't read the spotlights accurately. And the gels can give good color to a photo, so you can use color film. This picture was taken one fuji 800 with f-stop somewhere between 2.8-4. I can't remember exactly.

11/26/2003 4:20:22 AM

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Photography Question 
Linda Smith

member since: 6/5/2001
  63 .  Taking Indoor Shots
I have been taking photos of my daughter for her senior pictures. The outdoor ones are great. But now she wants to have some head shots taken indoors. I do not have any equipment other than the flash unit and tripod. I was thinking about shooting near the window with a backdrop. I know indoor lights cast a colored light the camera picks up, but any suggestions on how else to light her without the purchase of more equipment?

8/18/2001 11:38:52 AM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  Positioned near a large window can produce dramatic side lighting. To fill the other side away from the window slightly you can use a large piece of white poster-board or similar material. May take an assistant to hold it, and experiment some with its position. Daylight streaming through a clear window should not cause much, if any, color cast unless the room walls are a very strong, bright color. I agree with the use of a backdrop . . . or with some location that is very plain without anything to clutter the image. You can use depth of field control with your aperture setting to place the background out of focus.

-- John

8/18/2001 12:17:46 PM

john matteson

member since: 8/19/2001
  I did my son's portrait by the window, south facing, with a white sheet hung over the window to diffuse the light. You did'nt mention what kind of camera you are using, but many of them have a fill-flash feature on them. This fill-flash with put out enough light to softly light your subject usually without the harsh shadows and blueish looking light from a full power flash. Check your manual for mention of this feature and it may solve your problem. I forgot to say that the window light was for sidelighting.

8/19/2001 12:16:04 PM

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Photography Question 
Tina Brookes

member since: 5/31/2001
  64 .  Nightclub Photos
I have been trying to get shots of my husband's band and can't seem to get it right.

I need specific info on what speed the film should be, what the aperture should be set at, and what shutter speed. Everything I try comes out over or under exposed. My camera has a TTL lightmeter and it's impossible to see the needle in a nightclub setting. What can I do??

I'm a total amateur but would really like to take good gig photos. Any help would be appreciated.

P.S. --stupid question-- what does a "fast lens" mean?

5/31/2001 9:59:04 AM

Jeff S. Kennedy

member since: 3/4/2002
  A fast lens is one with a very wide aperture. For example a standard 50mm lens with an aperture of f1.4-f1.8 is considered fast. Fast refers to the fact that with the lens set at its widest aperture you use higher shutter speeds. So the wider the aperture the faster the shutter speed. It is essential for this kind of shooting.

The best way to shoot this sort of scene is to pre-meter your shots. Get there early and take meter readings off of a gray card or your palm (open a stop if you do this) wherever you know you will be shooting. You don't say what film you will be using. I have always used a high speed black and white film like Ilford Delta 3200. The last time I shot there was no light on the band so I shot at 3200 and push processed the film a stop and got good results. Most of my shots were at f1.5 @ 1/30th. You can determine what ISO will work best when you pre-meter. That's another reason I like films like Delta 3200 or Tri-x. You can push them or pull them for great results. I have heard good things about the Delta shot at 1600 though I haven't tried it yet.

5/31/2001 2:12:27 PM

Tina Brookes

member since: 5/31/2001
  Thanks for the info Jeff.
The gig was actually last night and the bar ended up having some really great lighting so all I needed was 1600iso film and the aperture was wide open most of the night.
My 50mm only opens to 2 so I think I'll look into something faster because I intend to take these kinds of shots alot.
I also used a digital camera that I borrowed from a friend and found that NOT using the flash gave a better "club" feel to the shots. The flash tended to blanket the shots with light and they didn't have the right "feel."

I really appreciate the info though. Thanks

Got one more question. How large can I go with the prints using 1600 film before they get "grainy" and is there a better film out there that doesn't go grainy when enlarged. I used Fujipress 1600 color. ( I would have prefered Black and white but the band wanted color)
thanks again
Tina

6/1/2001 9:44:52 AM

Zafar Malik

member since: 8/13/2000
  Hi there Tina,

Your question regarding enlarging images captured on high speed films. I think the first thing depends on the type of film you're using. Negative or slides! Negative films does tend to get more grainy than the slides. ISO/ASA 800 can get grainy when images are enlarged more than 6x8 (inches). Slides are a different ballgame altogether though.

Like I said, this is 'my' impression/experience. I'm sure there are helping hands out there with more info. I hope my contribution helps.

Happy clicking :-)
Zafar

6/1/2001 11:29:16 AM

Jeff S. Kennedy

member since: 3/4/2002
  I agree about the flash. I don't like to use it for these shots for a couple of reasons. First of all is the appearance as you said. Secondly, I think it distracts the band and draws attention to the photographer.

In regard to the enlargements, I have never shot that particular film but I would guess you would be safe with 5x7's. I would guess you would start to see the grain by 8x10. Personally, I don't mind grain in these sorts of shots. To me it adds to the atmosphere. I don't think slide films are the best answer here either. They don't have the range of print film and prints from slides are more expensive to make. Depending upon the lighting you might want to experiment with tungsten film. Although, I think the only fast (ISO320) tungsten film is a slide film. But it might be worth experimenting with.

6/1/2001 11:42:56 AM

Tina Brookes

member since: 5/31/2001
  thanks alot Z and J
I really appreciate the quick responses.
I'm so glad I finally found this place.
Tina

6/1/2001 12:16:03 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  Jeff's right about tungsten films. The fastest tungsten color negative I know about is Fuji's NPL 160 (a pro film). The fastest tungsten slide film is Kodak's EPJ-320 (also a pro film). Kodak's data sheet for it doesn't mention pushing it to a higher speed. Not that you can't do it, but it's something usually mentioned in the data sheet if it's "friendly" to being pushed.

-- John

6/2/2001 11:28:52 AM

Jeff S. Kennedy

member since: 3/4/2002
  I've seen examples of it pushed a stop. From what I've seen there is a color shift which may or may not be something you will like.

6/3/2001 3:49:40 PM

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Photography Question 
Heather A. Campbell

member since: 5/30/2001
  65 .  Why Won't My Camera Take Pictures in Low Light?
I was attending a wedding this past weekend and was asked to take some photos of the reception. The reception was held in a theater and the only light that was available was from the bar (it was pretty dark).

I know that with my point and shoot camera I could've snapped many pictures and they would have all turned out. With my SLR camera, the camera wouldn't even take a picture. I know it wasn't just my camera because I had a friend there that was also taking pictures with her SLR camera and it didn't work either. We're pretty sure it was because it was pretty dim lighting, but we're not sure how we could have set up the camera to make it work in the low light. We figure if our cheaper point and shoot could do it, so should our expensive SLRs! Please let me know if you have any suggestions.

5/30/2001 6:04:02 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  What brand and model SLR were you using? Some models are designed to not fire when in full auto mode if autofocus cannot be confirmed and/or if the meter reads extreme over/under exposure.

You should be able to shoot if you switch to manual focus or "creative" mode. For example, I think the Canon Rebel 2000 has these fail-safes when you shoot in "green box" or one of the PIC modes (Portrait, Landscape, Sports,...). If you switch to mode P, Av, Tv or M you will be able to shoot in the conditions you described.

5/31/2001 10:14:08 AM

Heather A. Campbell

member since: 5/30/2001
  I have a Minolta HTsi and my friend has a Nikon. At first both of us had it on full auto mode, then we both switched it to fully manual - and we still had the same problem. We did not switch to manual focus though - do you think this would solve the problem?

5/31/2001 10:29:03 AM

Craig M. Hicks

member since: 11/2/2000
  Heather, I don't know much about the Minolta HTsi, but I do know that if the Minolta 800si autofocus cannot confirm the focus it will not shot. I have two ways around this. One is to turn off that mode. The other more simple way is to use manual focusing.

6/1/2001 6:03:07 AM

Martin J. May

member since: 12/24/1999
  Hi Heather, I have a Minolta XTsi almost the same camera as the HTsi. Mine will not shoot if focus cannot be confirmed, in which case if you go to manual focus (may have to go to manual exposure too), then it will take a picture.

6/1/2001 7:06:19 AM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  Heather,
You and your friend undoubtedly encountered one of the most common problems with AF systems at wedding receptions: not enough light for the AF system to function. Many AF bodies will not allow the shutter to fire unless the AF has locked on a focus point.

Switching to manual focus usually solves that problem but can create another with you manually hunting for a focus if you are using a slower lens. A fast lens gives a brighter viewfinder making manual focus much easier in low light. It's one of the reasons I use a very fast standard lens (50mm f/1.2 or f/1.4) on a manual focus camera body for dimly lit receptions.

6/2/2001 11:10:19 AM

Kennith Wilson

member since: 4/12/2003
  As states above some of the camera will not work if it will not focus. Question is did you have the flash turned on. Most Minolta auto focus (newer models which I believe yours is) has a focus asst. on the flash. Turn the flash on and it will put out several burst of light and the camera will then focus and you then can take the picture. Of course this will also make the flash fire. So if you do not want to use flash will have to carry a small light source to shine on the subject till camera focuses.

4/24/2003 9:42:50 PM

Anand S

member since: 8/18/2003
  Hi in addition to all the above suggestions check your camera manual. HTSI plus has 9 customisable settings out of which one setting is to do with the camera firing the shutter when the focus is not confirmed. Generally this is turned on that means the shuttur won't open until the focus is confirmed you have an option of turning it off.

9/27/2003 9:35:43 AM

RoxAnne E. Franklin

member since: 6/26/2002
  What was ISO film were you using? With my Canon 7E, I have to also turn off auto focus, use manual settings, a fast lens, and.. film in the range of 400 to 1600. fuji NPH 400 and 800 speed film are fantastic for doing weddings in low light. When enlarging, the photos do not tend to become very "grainy." I am totally sold on the NPH film! Try it, you'll be surprised by the results.

9/30/2003 6:22:30 AM

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