Taking Pictures in Low Light

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by yeti, Mar 7, 2008.

  1. yeti

    yeti TPF Noob!

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    Hi all,

    I was wondering if I can draw from the experience of those more experienced than myself (which is ... pretty much everyone?)

    I was covering a fairly dynamic event indoors in low light and I was (naturally) forced to use flash. I am not very fond of flashes, so I try to use as little as possible. I only use fill flash rather than overwhelm the ambient. I use my flash on-camera, because I simply can't get to it fast enough otherwise.

    Even when I try to bounce off walls, ceiling AND use a diffuser to help me with it, I notice that I occasionally blow-off highlights, particularly on faces of people. I shoot in shutter priority with shutter set to the slowest speed I can handhold (1/20 with IS on). I can, of course, shoot with a very high ISO, but that doesn't usually produce very pleasing results. The lens is Canon EF 28-135, not a fast one, but the only one to give me the reach I need.

    The question is: what am I missing? Why are the highlights blown on so many of my pictures? How do you shoot in such situations? What lens do you use? What mode? How do you meter? What is your keeper rate for this situation?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    When I use flash, I shoot in manual mode. I set the aperture I want/need and the E-TTL flash matches it's output to that aperture. The shutter speed is set to control the amount of ambient exposure (keeping in mind that too much ambient and a long speed will still give blur).

    Since the flash matches it's output to the aperture, the only way to vary the flash exposure is to use FEC (flash exposure compensation). That should also apply to your situation....if you are getting too much flash exposure, just dial down the FEC.
     
  3. yeti

    yeti TPF Noob!

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    I never thought to do that.... :lol:

    I just made a fool of myself.
     
  4. Antithesis

    Antithesis No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Everytime I've used a hot-shoe mount flash unit, as well as the on-camera flash I always turn it down about 2/3 -EV, and that usually gives good results. Also, you can handhold down to about 1/20th like you were talking about, and the flash should freeze your subjects and give you plenty of ambient. I'd look into a dedicated flash unit with a bounce card or diffuser and you'll start to enjoy using flash a bit more, the results will look significantly better than on-camera flash.
     

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