First of all, what do I mean by low light? Well, I don’t mean light that’s near the ground – not low in a vertical height sense. I mean low, as in there’s not much of it – or in other words, it’s quite dark.
The human eye is remarkable at coping with varying levels of light – many animals are even better – just think owls!
And there’s a clue right there – think of how an owl sees so well in the dark, and you’ll probably be thinking something like “well owls have big eyes” and you’d be right. A camera, or to be accurate the lens, has an eye too – and you can make the eye, or the aperture bigger to let more light in.
Making the aperture larger is one way to deal with low light photography – so look for the “aperture priority” mode on your camera and make the aperture as big as you can (this will depend on your lens). The main thing to remember here is that the smaller the f number (aperture is measured/denoted by f and a number e.g. f4 or f8), the bigger the aperture (more light allowed in – think owls) and the bigger the f number, the smaller the aperture (less light gets in – think what happens when someone shines a bright light at you – your pupils get smaller, i.e. a small aperture).
Other things you can do – introduce light, e.g. a flash, use long exposures (probably using a tripod or other device to keep the camera steady) or turn the ISO up – making the camera sensor more sensitive or reactive to light – but that’s a topic for another day.
ISO, shutter speed and aperture are three key concepts that we cover in our Getting Started course.