After sharing the Great Migration and more post I got a number of messages asking me for the settings that were used and how I captured the images. Hello blog post! I’ll share the details for the Maasai around the fire today and then the details on the Maasai with lanterns on Thursday!
These sort of scenes can prove to be rather difficult to photograph – especially if your pop up flash is misbehaving! The naughty flash-syndrome means that you’re shooting in Auto – not cool!
In low light scenes like this where the only ambient light is the warm glow of the fireplace I prefer to switch over to manual mode as this allows me to gain more control over my shutter speed and exposure.
Lets break down the settings and expand on each of them a bit…
F 2.8 @ 53mm on a 24 – 70mm F2.8
At f2.8 the aperture mechanism inside the lens is wide open, allowing as much light in as possible. Yes this results in a shallow depth of field (as can be seen in the soft out of focus clothing and hand in the foreground) but that can be used to add depth to the scene and contribute to the story. I did however have to ensure that my focus point (which was manually selected to be left of centre) was falling directly on the face of my subject.
Low light means that we need to increase the sensitivity of the sensor to the ambient light. An ISO value of 2500 is pretty high but, given the low light and constant change in the intensity of the flames and therefore the light – 2500 was a good place to start.
A pretty slow shutter speed I’m sure you’ll agree, but at a focal length of 53mm and using my tripod to keep the camera steady, meant that I was able to capture a sharp image. Shooting in Manual mode you will find that your shutter speed is directly influencing the exposure value (exposure compensation) and at 1/50 of a second and in evaluative metering mode, the camera was showing my an exposure value of -1 & 2/3. This makes complete sense given that the vast majority of the scene is pitch black.
Had I adjusted my shutter speed to bring the exposure value to 0 then my shutter speed would have dropped to a point that the scene would appear much brighter but that there would be significant camera shake and movement in my subjects – not ideal.
Besides, the whole point of photographing in this kind of light for me is to have your subjects seemingly fade away into the darkness.
A couple of basic adjustments (very quick and simple as I was prepping this for the blog post under a bit of pressure from a considerable backlog of emails) and we have a finished product.
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