12 tips to get your photo right in low light

TAKING a photo is easier than ever. Taking a good photo, especially in low level light or of light at night, remains a challenge. 

Canon Australia has teamed up with Sydney's Vivid Festival this year and is on a mission to help amateur photographers nail their low-light shots.

Canon Collective photographers Colin Baker and Greg Sullavan recommend these tips to get your shots of light at night:

1. Colin recommends using taking a tripod, a digital remote release (so you can do calculated long exposures), and your fastest lenses and brave the crowds to get the position you want.

2. Keep your ISO as low as possible, check your composition and shoot the moment as it presents.

3. Wide open with fast shutter will capture the video detail, but you'll have to push your ISO to achieve correct exposure (i.e. 1/50th @ f1.4 @ 6400ISO). Tight with slow shutter will allow for a lower ISO but light detail may become washed out due to video movement (i.e. 30 sec @ f11 @ 100ISO).

4. Look at the scene, calculate what you want the outcome to look like, choose the shutter speed, then select the aperture and ISO for your creative styling.

5. Once you've determined all the obvious positions, explore the city and find locations and vantage points no-one's using.

6. Think about foreground interest to help separate the viewer's eyes from the structure and add human appeal, which can also provide scale.

Colin Baker's image of the Sydney Harbour Bridge lit up in celebration.
Colin Baker's image of the Sydney Harbour Bridge lit up in celebration.

7. If all else fails, come on a Canon Collective photo walk at Vivid Sydney, or one of our many Canon Collective events taking place around the country.

For Greg, a good shot of light at night means looking for a different perspective:

8. Perspective. Look for a unique perspective that no-one else has seen before. A simple change in the angle or lens can create an image that takes your photography to the next level.

9.  Movement. Sometimes a long exposure can capture light trails of moving object such as Vivid Ferries in the harbour. Use a Tripod at 30 seconds, F8, 100 ISO to get started!

10.  Multiple Exposures. For many photographers, your camera is able to shoot multiple exposures. Set your camera up to multiple exposure, additive mode to build layers of light. Use a tripod and a cable release for best results. A camera setting of 30 seconds, F22, 100 ISO for 5 exposures would be a great starting place.

11. Lens Twist. When shooting a long exposure on a tripod, why not add a creative twist by gently zooming forwards and backwards while the shutter is open. An exposure to start with might be 30 seconds, F22 at 800 ISO.

12. Star Burst. Many wide angle Canon lenses will create a Star Burst when exposing a specular light source. This is caused by light bouncing off the aperture blades of the lens at the minimum aperture of F22. Try an exposure of 30 seconds, F22 at 800 ISO to get started!

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