Shooting Events in Low Lighting without a Flash

Shooting Weddings and Other Events in Low Lighting Without A Flash

Shooting weddings is not an easy task, and to be honest, it scares me sometimes mainly because clients want perfectly timed photos and perfectly lighted photos. I do not incorporate flash photography into my photography. Nothing against using a flash, but I try to use natural light for all my photos, even weddings.

That being said, most weddings are held in venues that are indoors, not including outdoor weddings. Or, in most cases you see the wedding held outdoors and the reception held indoors. The problem with that is shooting photos in the venue. Most of them have decent natural light coming through the windows during the day, but a lot of receptions are held in the evening which makes for dim lighting in which to photograph subjects in. 

 Photo by: Rachel Adshead

Photo by: Rachel Adshead

By not using a flash, I do take a slight bit of risk, especially when shooting weddings and getting timed shots. When I do this I manually adjust my camera to allow for low light shooting. This can be difficult if you don’t have the right photographic gear, and I don’t always, but the lens I invested in and my camera are pretty powerful when shooting in low light. 

 Photo by: Rachel Adshead

Photo by: Rachel Adshead

For example, if I’m shooting in a rather dim venue, I drop my shutter speed down to around 1/60 to around 1/80 of a second. A slower shutter speed lets more light in, but it also allows for blur of photographing moving subjects, which is not always a good thing, depending on the effect you’re going for.  I also stop my aperture down to about 1.4 on my 85mm lens. Not all lenses allow you to stop down this low, but in doing so, the aperture of the lens gets larger which allows for more light to come in through the lens. I sometimes adjust the ISO levels as well, which may make for a more noisy or more grainy photograph, but this effect isn’t always a terrible thing. 
 

 Photo by: Rachel Adshead

Photo by: Rachel Adshead

Reading Your Light Situation

Reading your available light situation doesn’t have to be difficult. Try practicing your low-light photography lighting in different scenarios and locations, and during different times during the day. For instance, you can try shooting different locations during the evening. Go indoors and try shooting without a flash, but also try to shoot in manual mode and adjust your camera and lens to the current light situation in which you are attempting to shoot in. 

Low Lighting Adjustments:

-adjust shutter speeds according to your light situation

-Set ISO to a higher setting, try around 300 or higher in lower light settings.

-Open up your lens! Stop your lens down to its lowest f-stop, usually an f.1.8 or lower, depending on the type of lens you work with. 

-Bounce lighting off of other light sources: For example, window lighting bouncing off a light colored wall across from the window can be an excellent light source for a portrait or a still photograph.

-Don’t be scared of low lighting! Again, depending on your lens and camera, most are adaptable to shoot in low light. This can be tricky to become comfortable with, but practice is key to becoming familiar with these types of lighting situations. 

This wedding I photographed was shot entirely in lower lighted settings without a flash. I worked mainly with window light and ambient lighting to capture these images. To be honest, this was a bit difficult and I did get some motion blur on some of the photos which I wasn’t completely happy with, but all in all they came out pretty good for refusing to work with a flash. 

 Photo by: Rachel Adshead

Photo by: Rachel Adshead

 Photo by: Rachel Adshead

Photo by: Rachel Adshead

Another aspect of low light photography I enjoy is the fact that when shooting without a flash, you get an image that is more grainy and ends up giving a film feel to the photo. In my opinion, I feel as though this look gives the photo more depth and a nostalgic feel as opposed to sharp crisp flash lit images. This is definitely a personal preference though, and usually for weddings, people tend to go with more traditional wedding photographers. 

This website offers more in depth tips and tricks in order to shoot in low lighting without a flash https://digital-photography-school.com/shoot-low-light-conditions-without-using-flash/

Don't be scared to shoot in low light situations without a flash. Many people rely on using flash lighting as a crutch in low light, but you can practice and manipulate your available light to your own benefit. Low lighting also has perks, and can add moodiness and mystery to your photos, which is often vacant when shooting with a flash.