Dark arts

Darkness techniques, I mean. In other words: what do do when you have to shoot in the dark. Like in an image such as this, from the other night (as a photojournalist I take quite a few of these):

The simple answer: there’s no simple answer. In other words, there isn’t one single technique.

What I do is a combination of the following techniques:

  • Try to shoot when there is some light- not usually an option, since the criminal element does not wait until
  • Use a tripod or monopod, if possible.
  • Use a fast lens (one with a low “F-number”).
  • Use a wide lens, if possible – wider lenses are of course more tolerant of motion; while longer lenses show every little tremble.
  • Use a higher ISO – 3200 in this image, which is as high as my a-little-long-in-the-tooth 1Ds Mark 3 can go.
  • Crouch and make myself into a tripod.
  • Take the image many times – in the hope that one will be “accidentally sharp”.
  • Underexpose, and then later “push” the image (at the expense of more grain).
  • Use what you get – in this case, cars turning around right beside me lit of the police cars on the left, so I waited for more cars to do that (otherwise, those police cars would be dark).

By using some or all of the above techniques, you can get sharp pictures even when it is difficult, and when others fail.


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