Low Light Expert: Simon Ellingworth
This year Simon Ellingworth was a finalist in the International iPhone Photography Awards, Mobile Photography Awards & Professional Photographer of the Year, last year I was runner up in Professional Photographer of the Year and Sony World Photography Awards. [selected from 121,000 images from 171 countries]
This year Simon photography education blog based upon the premise ‘buying a better camera won’t make you a better photographer’ aimed at smart phone, tablet, GoPro and traditional photographers called Lightism. His easy to follow tutorials have been published by some of the biggest blogs in the world.
Lightism is gaining a huge global following and contacts 10 free lessons and loads of super simplified photography articles even your Dad would understand.
LOW LIGHT SMART PHONE PHOTOGRAPHY:
In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how I shot this amazing picture with an iPhone 5, Lollipod and a couple of apps in low light (near darkness)
I love pushing the boundaries and I often do long exposures with my DSLR camera and tripod. So, I thought I’d try my iPhone and the Lollipod; which I’d been testing for the manufacturer; whilst on a snowy night walk with my wife.
COMPACT CAMERA USERS:
If you have a compact camera you could achieve a similar effect in low light by selecting either ‘Auto’ or ‘B’ or ‘shutter priority’ and experiment with shutter speeds below 1/30th of a second.
If the results are too bright, you can adjust your IOS or light sensitivity to low (100) which will allow a longer exposure.
USING THE RIGHT CAMERA APP:
The iPhone’s normal camera app doesn’t really do what I wanted, which was to maximize the available light. I’d used an amazing low light app called NightCap before and was always stunned with the results.
The trick with Nightcap or any decent phone app is to tap around the screen to select the best exposure to create the right mood. The particularly applies to Nightcap because is a little too good and makes night look just like day, which is not the desired effect.
Here’s a super short video to illustrate the point about controlling your exposure:
STEADY AS SHE GOES:
The only real rule of low light photography you can’t break is to keep the camera or device totally still and the Lollipod does with total ease. This way you’ll get the non moving parts of your picture in focus.
Once you’ve setup your composition you can use the self timer or some people plug in the standard headphones which can be used as a remote cable release. I tend to use the first method.
Using a camera in the dark will generally create something called noise, in my picture this is the grainy effect. As I thought the gain added a certain something, editing it wasn’t necessary on this particular image.
If you do find the noise is too much, you can minimise this afterwards by editing your image.
As low light pictures are so variable, I don’t have a set formula to show you, I just play around to minimise what annoys me and enhance the bits I like.
Now, I call it being resourceful or creative, but you may call it cheating.
That night there was only two or three stars out and I wanted more magic, so the rest were add afterwards using a great little app called Alien Sky.
This gives you the ability to add starry skies, even planets to your pictures and this really extends the illusion of really long exposures and will blow your friends away.
My advice is keeping it subtle to make it believable.
The most difficult subjects are those with a high amount of contrast between the light and dark areas in your picture, such as cityscapes. In a single exposure you won’t be able to have both perfectly exposure, so decided which is most important or take several exposures and blend them afterwards…again the Lollipod makes this easy.
A good place to start with long exposure is landscapes without man made lights like my picture, once you’ve mastered that then try cityscapes.
Overall, experimentation is the key and with the Lollipod, any device and a little patience you’ll soon start to take some amazing pictures.
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All Images Copyright Simon Ellingworth