5 Tips for Low Light Photography

Australia strip BLACK

As the sunsets and the moonrises, the approach for a good photo shifts. Low light photography requires you to think differently to compensate for the lack of available light and colour. But when you know how to use low light as an advantage, it opens up a new style, and a new time of day, for you to explore with your art.

Try the following five tips for low light photography.

mel-burns-at-night-taken-by-kristoferus-andriono

“Mel burns at night” taken by Kristoferus Andriono (@kristoferus) – Fujifilm X100S

Make use of your tripod.

 

With such little light available, you most often need to work with slow shutter speeds. The long lapse in the open shutter means you almost always need your tripod to stabilise your equipment, especially for exposures longer than a second. Tripods are especially useful when capturing star stacks or light trails from automotive traffic. Even when you use your tripod, you may decide to use an external remote release or the camera’s timer to begin your shot and limit detectable shake.

 

Explore your camera’s aperture priority mode.

 

Photographing in Aperture Priority (A) when the light is low will allow you to manually control the cameras aperture settings ensuring you get the best shot when photographing handheld. To obtain this result all you need to do is select Aperture Priority and change the lenses aperture to the largest F Stop – ie F1.2. The result of this will be a faster shutter speed that’s automatically selected, and in most cases, will leads to a shutter speed faster than 1/60 second allowing you to capture the photo without a tripod, handheld.

sydney-celebrates-taken-by-daniel-karjadi

“Sydney Celebrates” taken by Daniel Karjadi (dkarjadi) – Fujifilm X-E2 + 35mmF1.4

 

Play with light trails.

 

Rather than lament the lack of light, use what little luminosity you have and give it time to tell a story. Capture light trails, whether the course of stars over several hours using multiple shots or the path of car headlights over several seconds. You want to control your camera’s aperture and shutter speed for this type of shot.

 

Find stark skies with little light pollution.

 

Much of night time photography includes the outdoor sky in its grandeur. If it is a starlit sky you want, make sure you shoot from a rural area. An urban setting emanates too much light pollution because of skyscrapers, streetlights and other signs that remain bright through the night. Make the drive to shoot stars from a setting that shows their beauty.

the-milky-way-taken-by-michael-davison

The Milky Way taken by Michael Davison (@michaeldavidsonphotography) – Fujifilm X-T1 + XF18-55mm

 

Climb high, explore your city and your ISO.

 

Not every night shot relies on a rural setting, though. You can take incredible shots of the city skyline or alleyways in the late-night hours. Most photographers rely on ground-level shots of city’s buildings and monuments, but you can think differently. Get up high and explore areas assessable to the public. See how the city appears from a balcony or rooftop and play with your ISO to obtain a suitable shutter speed for the lighting conditions.

 

With the right use of your photography equipment and a creative approach to limited light, you can take excellent photos no matter what the conditions.

 

Do you have any low light photographs captured using your X Series camera? Post a URL link of your online photo in the comments below and tell us a bit about the image – we would love to see them!

The Painter’s Brush and Fujifilm

Experience light and photography as art in a whole new way with Adrian Murray. Learn why Adrian chooses X Series over full-frame options to capture his moments.

guest-blogger-strip-blackPhotography is art. Whether you’re capturing the soul of another in a portrait, or the essence of our world in a landscape image. What you capture on a sensor is reflective of how you perceive our shared environment. A camera, in other words, is akin to a painter’s brush. Perhaps this is why we place so much importance on our tools. We want to wield a brush that will help us achieve what we see in our minds. I love the analogy of a painter and a photographer especially when considering the use of Fujifilm for one of my brushes.DSCF4103You see, one of the reasons I bought into the Fujifilm X System was because of how I thought it’d allow me to obtain a certain aesthetic. Sure, I loved the retro look, the portability, the easy access of essential controls, the fact that it was supremely sharp; but there was more to it than these common Fuji-loves. As an artist I draw a lot of inspiration from the work of old masters. I find their aesthetic as timeless and powerful. The use of light and contrast in their paintings to be awe inspiring. I wanted to achieve with my camera and lens something close to what they were able to produce with a brush and canvas. Enter the tools I prefer to wield for a master aesthetic: the X-T1 and X-Pro2.DSCF3287Fujifilm’s X-Trans APS-C sensor has a few advantages in regards to capturing light. One of the largest advantages is how well it can get everything in focus when compared to one of its full-frame counterparts. A crop frame essentially increases your depth of field while you are also able to bring in more light to the sensor with an equivalent aperture and focal length. Why is this an important factor, even for portraits? Because having your scene in focus allows your viewer to get a better idea of the entire area your subject is in. A story can unfold before your viewer with better ease. Of course, you can achieve a deep depth of field with larger sensors, but you’ll lose out on light and sometimes even enter into diffraction issues depending on your scene. I’m sure some of you are wondering, “but what about the bokeh?!” Sure, bokeh can be nice for a headshot and even in environmental portraits. Bokeh offers a great way to force a viewer to look at the subject. Though, I feel as though there is a stronger element to draw attention to a subject: light. Breaking out of the bokeh-mold you’re able to expand upon your use of light. DSCF1385The X-Trans sensor also has an oddity about it that I have not found on a Bayer patterned sensor: it produces sharp images that have an almost a brush stroke feel to them. Some will point out that it is due to my processing an image in Lightroom and Adobe’s refusal to really figure out how to sharpen an X-Trans sensor. There could be some truth to that and from what I’ve read online, most people aren’t impressed by this interaction between camera and processor. I, however, enjoy this look and use it to my advantage. The images produced by a Fujifilm sensor seem to come together in a different manner than my images from other sensors.DSCF3684Since I am a large fan of natural light I really love cameras that are able to take what I throw at them in terms of needed dynamic range. With Fujifilm, I love how easily I’m able to bring down the highlights and get a nice overall exposure. This puts me shooting my exposure a little to the right more often than I’m used to, but it’s great to be able to see a clean sky in my images. There is also the DR setting which gets baked into the RAW files and even allows some more pushing of the files if need be. This is especially useful when using harsh lighting.DSCF3171There you have it, some of the greatest reasons of why I love my Fujifilm cameras and why they are able to capture the moments I love.

X-Photographer’s Spotlight – Greg Whitton

Outdoor Photographer of the Year 2014 winner Greg Whitton is the latest Fujifilm X Photographer to be featured in our Spotlight series.

Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography?

Profile1Well, I’m married to Lisa and as we don’t have any children, it leaves us plenty of free time to enjoy stuff outside of the home. We met through our walking group as we both have a love for the outdoors and it is that which helped me discover a love for photography. Initially I started heading to the hills with mates and just enjoyed climbing hills and mountains, but over time I came to appreciate the landscape and I was ended up trying to capture more than just snapshots of our hiking activities. This then developed into a strong affinity with photography.

Greg_Whitton_Photography_Fuji_2015-8

How did you develop your style in photography?

I don’t think I really have a style, although just the other day someone said they could single out a “Greg Whitton shot” from others. I wasn’t sure how to take that but they assured me it was a good thing. I’m not sure I really believe it. I’m very much a photographer who strives to capture epic landscapes, typically made that way due to the pattern of weather in them. They tend to be very moody. I’m not a heavy user of post-processing, although I would say that I think I use most of the tools that Lightroom offers. Typically my images follow the same processing workflow which takes two or three minutes. It’s perhaps why they are easier to single out, they exhibit the same characteristics. I’m using colour a lot more these days. By that I mean I’m playing with individual colour channels to achieve a ‘mood’ that I want. It’s surprising just how effective this is, a minor nudge of the blue primary colour channel for example can do wonders.

Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?

A friend of mine introduced me to them. He was searching for his ‘perfect camera’ and seemed to have a new camera every week, Nikon, Sony, Ricoh, etc. I was using Canon, a 5DmkII. Eventually he got a Fujifilm X-E1 and was raving about the image quality. It was small and lightweight, and it wasn’t full frame. Naturally I didn’t really believe him. However, I started to notice I wasn’t using my own set up very effectively. I was hiking a lot and it was just too heavy. I wasn’t carrying it around my neck and was leaving it in my rucksack. As a result I was missing a lot of shots (I very much tend to shoot handheld on the fly as things happen quickly in the mountains). He showed me some of his RAF files and I have to say, I was impressed. I decided to experiment and bought an X-Pro1 and a bunch of lenses in a cashback deal. I took it on one dual shoot with the Canon. The Canon was on the tripod the whole time for ‘the big shot’ while I ran around the summit of a mountain with the X-Pro1 shooting handheld. When I got home to check the results, I had more useable images from the Fuji than I did from the Canon. When comparing images that were shot side by side, the Fuji had better clarity, less noise and were sharper. That was it, that one shoot persuaded me to ditch the Canon and go full Fuji. I don’t regret it a single bit.

Greg_Whitton_Photography_Fuji_2015-2

Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?

Simply shoot what you love and don’t listen to others.

Greg_Whitton_Photography_Fuji_2015-12

Key inspirations – What & who inspires you?

Colin Prior is one of my photographic heroes. My photographic eye has certainly been influenced by his amazing body of panoramic work. In recent years I’ve followed Julian Calverley because his use of mood in landscape photography is almost second to none. I’ve also become a bit of a fan of David Ward. Every image I see from him fills me with wonder. He can make the most benign foreground subject so incredibly intriguing and unique. It blows my mind sometimes.

Greg_Whitton_Photography_Fuji_2015-7

Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?

Oh crikey, not really. If I told you how I got most of my images you’d realise just how un-professional I am! My few words of wisdom would extend to, if you enjoy shooting the outdoors, then you must do it because you love the outdoors. Try to appreciate them for what they are and don’t get hung up on ‘the shot’. I go out to enjoy the outdoors first. A good photograph is a bonus.

Greg_Whitton_Photography_Fuji_2015

What’s next for you?

Winning Outdoor Photographer of the Year has given me a massive boost in self confidence and opened one or two doors. But I’m learning that it still doesn’t mean people are knocking down your door for stuff. You still have to be pro-active to make the most of it. I’ve been really busy since then, but it’s not all photography, I have a full time job to do too. So, you’d be surprised how little I’ve been able to capitalise on the accolade. I do have a book coming out in August, ‘Mountainscape’ published by Triplekite. It is a book that contains many of my favourite mountain images from the UK, from vistas to more personal work. It’s available to pre-order from www.triplekite.co.uk. Beyond that I’m hoping to launch workshops later in the year (folks can sign up for news on them by contacting me through the website). Mind you, if anyone wants to commission me for anything else, I’m all ears!

I’m looking forward to the next generation of cameras from Fuji, I think we are going to be treated to something special. Recently we’ve seen huge advances in resolution & technology in the digital photography world, mind you, we don’t seem to have been held back by lower resolution, I won a major competition with only 16 megapixels to play with, it was the overall image that won, not how detailed it was. Others have achieved much more with much less. It is an exciting time for digital photography and it’s great to be involved.

Contact info

Website
Twitter

Greg_Whitton_Photography_Fuji_2015-5

Tutorial: Rule of thirds

Let us take you through one of the most fundamental and useful framing techniques used in photography – the Rule of Thirds

w360_6415757_tutorialbannerfordotmailerOne of the most well known and widely used composition techniques is the ‘Rule of Thirds‘. Originally it was used as a guide to help landscape artists in the mid-19th century, but it was quickly discovered as a handy tool for photographers as well.

Why use the ‘Rule of Thirds’?

The idea behind the Rule of Thirds is to stop the photographer putting the subject in the centre of the frame. By doing this it allows the viewer more opportunity to explore the image as a whole rather than be fixed on the central point. For this rule to apply, you simply need to imagine that your frame is divided into nine equal sections with lines crossing the horizontal and vertical areas of the image. Or to make things easier still, go to the FRAMING GUIDELINE option found on your Fujifilm camera and turn the GRID 9 option on.

It is where these lines meet that is important, you should roughly aim to place your subject matter on or near these lines. In this particular example the tree has been placed directly on one of the third lines.

rule of thirds with guides red

Which side?

You may also question where to place the subject in the frame. The left third or the right third of the image?

The right third of the frame is generally considered a better, safer placement of the subject matter (although this is subjective) due to the way a viewer ‘reads’ an image. Just like with books where we read left to right, we approach viewing an image in a similar manner. This means that when a viewer spots the subject of interest, they may stop exploring the rest of the image. Here is the same image simply flipped horizontally to give an idea of this effect.

Knowing the way a viewer ‘reads’ an image it can help you make creative decisions; by placing the subject on the left hand side you can create deliberate tension within your image.

rule of thirds with guides 3-2

Vertical AND horizontal

rule of thirds with guides 2You may also notice that not only the subject matter is placed on a third line but also the horizon line as well. The Rule of Thirds can be very handy at producing consistently good compositions, especially in landscape photography. Our recommendation is to place the horizon on one of the third lines – which one is up to you, but here’s a tip: If the sky is more interesting, let it fill two thirds of the frame and if the ground is more interesting, let that cover two thirds of the frame instead.

10604585_10154697029435534_3613999098326903113_o

2 thirds foregroundSo in this seascape image we have started to combine the elements discussed above; we have horizon placed on a third line, the seaweed sitting on the right third line and because the we wanted the foreground to be more interesting and prominent it takes up two thirds of the frame instead of the sky.

 

 

And it’s not all about landscapes either!

This rule can be applied to pretty much any type of photography, here are some examples of how it can be applied to portraiture and even action.

 

 

Keep it in mind

Keep these composition ideas in mind when looking at inspirational images – can you see them being applied?
Think consciously about your composition – it may feel unnatural the first time you try it out, but in no time at all you will be getting great results.

Before long, the Rule of Thirds will become part of your photographic toolkit – a solid starting point to let you explore for yourself and find your own style.

Until then, happy snapping! 🙂

X-Photographer’s Spotlight – V.Opoku

Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography? How did you develop your style in photography?

Hey hey, I shoot weddings and travel – I am a creative, contemporary wedding story teller and London is home for the time being.

I became a photographer by accident; I went to university to study economics, it was during this time that I decided to buy a camera instead of a PS3 to kill time. I would hop on my bike for a ride and have the camera along with me to capture the things I saw in my new surroundings.

Even though I have achieve a level of consistency within my body of work, I like to think that I am still training my eyes. It is an ongoing process and I find that I switch things up every two years – not everything, but I have noted that every two years I make a change in one area or another. I guess you can say that how I feel often translates into the approach I take to the work I create, and as someone who is still young and curious about the world, I don’t think that I will ever stop developing my style.

V. Opoku-2

Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?

Out of curiosity really, and after 2 years and some change, I am happy that I took the risk. They offer a unique and refreshing way of doing things – having to compensate for parallax when using the OVF due to the rangefinder design of the X-Pro 1 & X100s, or the traditional shutter speed dials & aperture values on the lenses, this is a fun way to create images. For some strange reason, the image quality that I get out of these little cameras still amazes me, and the lenses that I have used have all been stunning.

A very important element of the Fujifilm X-Series that maybe doesn’t get enough attention is the community that these cameras have created, I have exchanged emails with people from all over the world about these cameras. I have discovered the work of other amazing photographers who use these cameras and even became friends with a few, like Bradley Hanson (USA), Patrice Michellon (France), Robin Weil (France) and Fred Frognier (Belgium) for example. All these guys were complete strangers at one point.

I would love to network with other official X-Photographers too! I have exchanged words with a few but thats not enough, I am thinking along the lines of a collaboration on project or something.

V. Opoku-3

Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?

There Is Always More! I think photography is a lifelong journey without a destination so we have to keep going, keep striving to improve and never settle – There Is Always More!

V. Opoku-5

Key Inspiration- What & Who inspires you?

The What – Life, all aspects of it – the good and the bad. Music, football, culture and the people I meet and exchange stories with on my travels.

The Who – Those who strive to master their craft and set new rules, e.g. Lionel Messi and Nas. In terms of photography, there are so many good photographers out there that it is difficult for me to pick one. I like to draw inspiration even from those that don’t shoot the type of stuff that I shoot.

V. Opoku-6

Do you have any tips or tricks you could share?

Create limitations in a world where is there none, mine was deciding to shoot with just two focal lengths for the majority of my work these last two years and I couldn’t be happier! In fact, deciding to shoot with just prime lenses 5 years ago was probably the best thing I could have done for my portfolio and development as a photographer.

Remain curious about the world, be willing to learn and don’t be afraid to try new things.

Shoot through the tough and uninspiring periods.

V. Opoku-7What’s next for you?

Um, the X-Pro 2 😉 – haha. I really want to live in various countries & cities around the world in the next couple of years. To explore and experience different cultures etc and even shoot some epic weddings whilst I am out there too – the thought of shooting a Japanese wedding in Tokyo one day really excites me. I will be starting this chapter of my life with a move to Barcelona at some point this year, things haven’t gone as I had hoped but I am determined to make it happen. Then from there, maybe NYC + LA for a year, Cuba too at some point, Japan – who knows. I want to explore as many places as possible and meet as many interesting people as I can.

V. Opoku-8

Contact Info

Web : vopoku.com

Twitter: @vopoku

Instagram: @vopoku

Member of X100C – The Collective : http://x100c.com

Continue reading “X-Photographer’s Spotlight – V.Opoku”

X-Photographer’s Spotlight – Bert Stephani

Tell us about yourself and what got you into photography? How did you develop your style in photography?

I’m from Belgium and recently when I turned forty, I realised I’ve been a professional photographer for ten years now. I shoot quite a wide range of subjects but it’s almost always about people. Although I’m a one man band, I feel my company has three divisions: The biggest division is my commercial photography in which I usually employ documentary techniques to capture real images for companies and agencies. Teaching is my second division. I really enjoy teaching and encouraging other photographers during workshops and video lectures. The smallest division is the one that caters to individuals, capturing weddings, family portraits, … It’s what I started my career with and it still gives me a lot of satisfaction.

As a kid, I was intrigued by the buttons and dials on my great-aunt’s camera but I didn’t give it much thought then. When I was seventeen I discovered some Time/Life books in the library. I got so intrigued by documentary and particularly war photography that I asked for an SLR for my 18th birthday. I played around with photography and developing my own film but soon photography had to make place for filmschool and writing. I rediscovered photography ten years later while I was following a Photoshop course in order to learn how to make nice DVD menus for my video work. I can still remember the moment I held my neighbour’s first DSLR and decided I wanted one too. Only a couple of months later, I decided that I wanted to become a professional photographer.

I spent all my free time (and some of the company’s time I was working for back then) to understand the world of f-stops, shutterspeeds and focal lengths to learn the craft. When bad weather and short days in the winter, forced me to learn about lighting, I discovered a whole new dimension and developed an ongoing passion for light. But after a couple of years I had become a photographer’s photographer. My work had become about the techniques, the gear and the fashion of the moment, while the pictures I really cared about where the simple, timeless, often imperfect shots of my friends and family. That was the moment that I went back to what I’ve been doing all my life: simply telling stories.

20140814_an-roald_041

Why did you choose Fujifilm cameras?

Very early on in my career, I already realised that a big camera can get in the way of photography and a friend recently reminded me that I once told him: “I wish someone would find a way to put a big sensor in a small camera with a compact fast prime lens”. So I guess I pre-invented the X100 back then ;-). But it would take a couple more years before mirrorless cameras became a reality and a usable option for professional photographers. I used a number of Panasonic and Olympus mirrorless cameras for family pictures and started thinking about using a small camera for part of my professional work. Although the prospect of reducing the weight and size of my kit, got my back and neck excited, it wasn’t the main reason to consider mirrorless cameras. Much more important to me is the fact that I can shoot without attracting attention and that a smaller camera removes the barrier between me and my subjects.

My X-story started out with the X-Pro1 and just a 35mm lens, but I have to admit that we got off to a pretty stormy start the first few months. Coming from a well established high-end DSLR, it took a while to get used to the X-Pro1 in it’s first firmware version days. Although I had my share of frustrating experiences, I had to conclude that the X-Pro1 made me a better photographer and I just fell in love with the files it produced when I worked hard for my shots. I kept my DSLR within range for a while until I realised I hardly ever used it anymore. That’s when I sold all my DSLR gear and went all Fuji. As an early adopter I have seen the X-system going through it’s growing pains but I’ve been very impressed with the way Fuji has responded by spectacular firmware updates, listening to its customers and developing a complete system in such a short time. There are a lot of technical reasons why I choose to work with Fujifilm cameras but the main reason, is that I just love to shoot with them.

_DSF6213

Do you have a photographic philosophy you live by?

Most of the time, I would say: “keep it real”. But every now and then, I want to create something larger than life, surreal or whatever. So ultimately … no

20140319_cpxl-cdc_024

Key inspirations – What & who inspires you?

My inspirations comes from everywhere and sometimes I can’t find anything at all. I follow young emerging Instagram photographers but I’m also hugely inspired my masters like Sally Mann, Jeanloup Sieff, Elliott Erwitt, … There are also photographers who’s pictures may not blow me away, but who inspire me by how they approach their work. In the last few years, I’ve been finding a lot of inspiration in reading about the history of photography. And then that’s just photography. Music is also a great source of ideas. When I listen to good music and close my eyes, I see images. I’m often jealous about how musicians can convey emotions. When I’m stuck I sometimes ask myself the question: “How would Pearl Jam or Sinead O’Connor tell this story?”.

Life in general is my biggest inspiration, just take the time to really look around and you’ll see so many inspiring things.

20131015_hunting-les-vallons_082

Do you have any tips or tricks you could share with us?

Like with a good meal, a good picture starts with quality ingredients. For me, a photo always has to tell a story or convey an emotion. So let the story/emotion be the starting point of the photographic process. That’s not an excuse not to worry about technique, equipment, experience and skill. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to translate that story into a picture.

I see myself as a fat athlete that wants to become a top player in the sports of photography. In order to get there, just playing streetball with my buddies every Saturday, won’t cut it. It’s about recognising your weak points and target a lot of practice towards them. It’s about getting out of your comfort zone and working hard to become comfortable in new zones.

Instagram in combination with a small camera like the X30 or X100T has been an important training tool for me lately. I try to post a nice picture every day with mixed success. But the journey is more important than the goal. I’m training my eye, get my shots right in-camera, try out new things (like long exposures or landscapes), I learn how to get the most out of my small camera, … I can see the things that I learned that way slowly enriching my paid work and I love the interaction resulting from my Instagram activity.

20141104_chana_1894

What’s next for you?

I’m not entirely sure what’s next but I should. The last couple of years have been a crazy rollercoaster that gave me amazing moments but also left me with a bit too much chaos. Life threw me some curveballs that I didn’t see coming and I was forced into a kind of short-term survival mode. I didn’t have much time and energy to spare to look at the big picture and think ahead. It’s time to change that, make some big decisions and move forwards.

20150107_Uplace-BMC_0679

Contact info

Commercial website and blog: www.bertstephani.com

I’m a proud member of the KAGE Collective: www.kagecollective.com

Private commissions and weddings: www.lifelovebybert.com

Facebook page for workshops: https://www.facebook.com/bertstephaniworkshops

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bertstephani

Instagram: https://instagram.com/bertstephani/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/bertstephani/videos

This slideshow requires JavaScript.