Low Light Travel Photography

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

It doesn’t matter if you call it available light, unavailable light, available darkness, or low light photography, the most rewarding photographs are often produced when working under challenging lighting conditions.

One reason is the thrill of overcoming technical obstacles that prevent you from producing a well-exposed image under difficult lighting conditions. Secondly, photographs made under lighting conditions different from t“f/16 and the sun over your right shoulder” have a more eye-catching look. Thirdly, since most travel photographs are made during the middle of the day, taking the time to shoot at other times lets you produce photographs that look different.

ABQ Mall

1/50 sec at f/3.2 and ISO 2500

When I’m home I take a walk around a nearby lake and always take a camera because I never know what I’ll encounter on my walk. When I’m traveling, I take a similar walk at night because scenes, like the one above at a mall near my hotel in Albuquerque, which looks completely different at night than it does during the day.

To make successful low light images you’ll want to start with fast lenses and high ISO settings often combined with a slow shutter speed. With digital capture, there’s problem with color shifts caused by reciprocity failure as there is with film. You can always shoot at ISO 200 speed for available light photography when using a tripod but you’ll probably want to bump up your camera’s ISO settings when the light is low. How much is determined by how much digital noise you can tolerate.

Key West, Florida

1/60 sec at f/2.8 and ISO 160

O n my recent trip to Key West, Florida I only took Micro Four-thirds cameras with me. The above shot was made while enjoying a sunset cruise around the keys using a Panasonic Lumix G2 with Sigma 19mm f/2.8 DN lens.