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Low light photography WITHOUT flash using a Canon DSLR camera (Tips & Tricks)

When should you use flash and when should you NOT use flash? Sometimes, you might find yourself photographing an event where using flash on your camera would be disruptive to the event. In this video, I share a few ways that I take photos in low light situations where flash is not an option.

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My gear:
My camera – Canon 5D Mark IV:
Canon 16-35mm lens (awesome wide angle):
Canon 70-200 zoom lens (great for events):
Canon 85mm 1.2 (my FAVORITE portrait lens):
Canon 85mm 1.8 (a cheaper alternative):
Canon 50mm 1.4 (second favorite portrait lens):
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ND filters for my drone:
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  1. hi Nicole,
    thanks for the tips, being lazy I tend to forget RAW is an option πŸ™„

    some things you will probably be doing automatically might be worth pointing out :

    – use image stabilization (in body or lens)
    – if no tripod available, press the camera up to a firm object (e.g. pillar or wall ) to help stabilization (2 second shutter delay can also help here)
    – use manual exposure settings (+ maybe limited auto iso), measure the subject (spot metering) and most importantly : ignore low exposure warnings from the camera (to capture the mood, you WANT the pictures to be darker than the 'average' most cameras will be aiming to get )

    best regards and always looking forward to your posts (y)

  2. my challenge can best be explained with recent shooting fireworks. regardless of the settings in manual mode on my canon rebel t7 dslr, if I wished to, using a remote trigger, to click at the boom of the fireworks shot so that the shutter is open when the magic happened the camera would do nothing. because relatively there was no light in the sky for the the meter to see. so I had to wait for some sparkle of light and the camera would do what I want.
    I ended up doing instead each, I continued pressing button taking as many shots that the camera would allow. strangely I actually got many great pictures. but what about normal lowest ligh conditions like a moon or fireflies, the camera is not being predictable.
    any thoughts?

  3. Can you stabilize your images with a lens that has built in stabilization because your Canon EOS 5D Mk 4 camera does not have built in stabilization ?

    BTW: your images looked great on my phone.

  4. I have not done a shoot like that but wow thanks , 6k ISO , I never thought of it in that respect, and in the spirit (no pun lol) of respect you are right. I have been working hard on keeping anyone from knowing what I am doing, you know blend in, it could be a situation where I become a part of my surroundings. For instance I was in a busy downtown area, I got a bite to eat, set my camera on the tripod and started filming, I acted as if the camera was not there and I wanted people to focus on me eating and it worked great! They had no idea I was filming. I’ve been wondering what would happen if I put my flash on but I know it has specific applications, and ISO will kill my footage for stock agencies so I really try to stay at 100 as my footage gets rejected above that but thank you for pointing out those uses that are acceptable for ISO, never thought of it that way. Another great video! Thank you

  5. I use the widest aperture I have and the fastest shutter speed and lowest iso that will still gather the most information. Then process using channels to bring out dark areas for the first step. Then you can dodge and burn small areas and on and on and on. How much time do you want to spend to make a pic look unprocessed? I always shoot Raw as storage is cheap and you never know when that great pic might show up and you have captured all the info you can. Hard to retrieve info when its lost to jpg. I used to always shoot slides for the same reason. Take a million pics then pick the ones you like and work them as little as possible or spend hours to make them look unprocessed. Flash is flash and a subject that is unto itself. When and where depends on how big an Ahole you want to be. I'm not a huge fan of flash outside a studio. What I see is what you get , with exceptions. Want to be a photographer live and breath and eat it Want to be a great pool player sleep on a pool table ect ect ect.

  6. I was in a bowling alley which was booked for my child’s minor hockey team 9 to 11 year olds. The area was filled with UV black lights, led coloured lights, which were bouncing off a mirror ball. The ambient light was surreal in a way. A flash would have lit part of the room and completely disrupted the bowlers. It wouldn’t have been good for the light because it was so interesting. I used my nifty fifty/ (plastic fantastic ) with a wide aperture and took images of my child with his friends, the alley ,and balls on the return rack. Because of no flash, open aperture, I could easily pick subjects without drawing too much attention. Purplish blue all around with spots from the led lights. The bokeh effect with lights around the bowling ball was very interesting.

  7. This is great! Good advice!Thank you for sharing what settings and all the gear you use for lowlight and calm atmospheres..

    I, personally think that noises from the shutter can be disturbing too:) I'm wondering, if they manufacture beginner cameras with a silent mode nowadays, for when I buy?

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