need advice for low-light plant photos

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by mapgirl, Apr 5, 2008.

  1. mapgirl

    mapgirl TPF Noob!

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    I'm going to be taking photos for a native plant project. I'll mostly be dealing with overcast conditions (the Northwest) in a forest. And I don't want to use flash. I've been experimenting with different settings and was surprised to find that when I shot at 400 or 800 with shutter-priority (60), although the shots came out dark, I could make an easy Photoshop adjustment and the image came out looking OK. Aperture priority was the worst. And the Program setting was so-so. Using a tripod would solve a lot of problems, but there's usually some sort of breeze blowing through, so that wouldn't work.
    I'm shooting with a Canon Rebel XTi with a 17-85 mm lens equipped with image stabilization. any thoughts? I'll post some of the test shots if that would help. I just keep feeling that there are some bonehead-simple techniques that sub-bonehead me just doesn't see :confused:.
    THANKS!
     
  2. Stratman

    Stratman TPF Noob!

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    A faster lens would work wonders for you more than likely. Maybe one of the fast 50s, I am not a Canon user, but they have some fast 50s in their line up, and apparently they are not very expensive. Give one of those a look, I believe it is the 50MM F1.8 that is a great value. If I remember correctly, it's less than $100.00
     
  3. davebmck

    davebmck TPF Noob!

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    If you have a good tripod, the breeze should not be a problem. You may need to update to a more sturdy one.
     
  4. christopher walrath

    christopher walrath No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Another clue for stabilizing your tripod, drape your camera bag over the base of your tripod to add extra weight holding it still to the ground. But I have a sneaking suspicion that your tripod would solve all of your problems. That and a remote shutter switch or cable or whatever your camera might employ. Good luck with the project.
     
  5. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    So what your saying is you don't want to use a flash, you don't want to usea tripod, you have a slow lens and you want great images. You have to remember there are rules you need to get light to that sensor somehow and the best way to do that is probably going to be a tripod you may have to give in and use one.
     
  6. mapgirl

    mapgirl TPF Noob!

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    I'm a little confused. I'm not worried about my tripod moving around. I'm worried about my subjects (the plants) moving around in the wind. If the problem was just about low light, then shooting slower with a tripod would be easy. But I might well need to shoot faster to get clarity and details. How would a tripod help that? Sorry if I'm being dense.
     
  7. 250Gimp

    250Gimp TPF Noob!

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    In this case you need a faster lense. The 50mm f1.8 is a great low light lense that won't break the bank. You will be able to get much faster shutter speeds so that the wind doesn't affect your pics as much. When it comes to subject movement your IS lense doesn't help, as you need faster shutter speeds to minimize the effect of the subject movement.

    It is kind of fun working with a prime as well.
     
  8. mapgirl

    mapgirl TPF Noob!

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    But don't I lose a whole of of Depth of Field?
     
  9. STINKY PICTURES

    STINKY PICTURES TPF Noob!

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    I have to agree i just got this lens, 50mm f1.8, and its great. Its fast, and great for low light and very sharp.
     
  10. davebmck

    davebmck TPF Noob!

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    Yes, if you use a large aperture and fast shutter speed, you will have less depth of field. But if you have low light and a moving subject, there is no other choice other than using a flash. If you are taking close ups of plants, you may not need (or want) a lot of DOF.
     
  11. mapgirl

    mapgirl TPF Noob!

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    You guys talked me into it; I'm getting the 50 mm f1.8. I read enough reviews and it's cheap enough that it's more than worth a shot (no pun intended ;)). And, actually, I don't know why I was resisting it (other than the money). When I used to shoot film years ago, I mostly used my 50 mm and was quite happy with what it did.
    Thanks for the help!
     
  12. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I am not understanding the lack of desire to use a flash. It would make ALL the difference in the world. Short of a hurricane, a picture taken at 1/250th of a second with a well placed flash would free you from the constraints of even only shooting in the day or bright areas. It means you could shoot at night AND/OR when it is pretty windy.

    There is nothing you can do about the wind moving the plants other than shooting at high shutter speeds... and there are ONLY 3 ways to get that:

    - very high ISO to get shutter speed up (grainy look thanks to digital noise in the pics)
    - very fast glass (F/1.4 would be ideal, you could get away with F/1.8), but DOF would be very shallow
    - off camera flash (best/most flexible results of the 3 options)
     

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