Shooting in Low Light
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By Christie Stockstill
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It's been a long, cold, rainy winter by Austin standards. You can get out a little to go shoot, but it's difficult with such unpredictable weather. Sure, foggy days make for mysterious and beautiful images, but you can't always get a model and get out in the fog that quickly. Rain is only ok if you stay indoors or have wet-weather gear, but unless you are doing a rain series, that will get old quickly. That leaves snowy days, which we, in central Texas would probably love to shoot in, but we never get lots of gorgeous snow, the kind that covers everything in sight. Besides, the friendly meteoroligists here make it seem downright suicidal to get out in such weather. So, what can you do if you don't have, or don't want to use, supplementary lights? Rearrange everything in your home to get next to a window! 

I move my furniture around all the time (just ask my friends; it's rarely the same around here from visit to visit) to get a great shot near a window or door. Nothing is sacred. All can be moved, has been moved and will be moved again. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, especially when one of her favorite people to photograph is moving to another state far away from here! With only a few weeks' notice! Uggggh!

Suffice it to say, a rainy day was not going to stop us from squeezing in one last shoot.  

Here are a few from our first set up, all with window light only except for the first image, for which I added light to the left side of the image using just a lamp. The window light was cooler, being a gray day, and the lamp emitted a very warm light, so I had to do some balancing in Photoshop. I also had to remove a T.V. from the wall in Photoshop, so I was going to be there anyway.  

All of these exposure times are less than 1/60th of a second, but I still chose to hand-hold my camera rather than use a tripod. She is older (and awesome) so she was able to hold quite still. With a younger child, I may have had a blurred image. I tried to keep my ISO as low as I could and still get nice detail from the window-lit side. I wanted moody portraits, so the shadows don't bother me this time. (I know, I know, some are sticklers for shadow detail, and that's great, but this time, I'm breaking the rule.)

All images were created with a Nikon D700 using a Nikkor 24 - 70 mm lens (my workhorse.) A quick prime lens, like a 55mm would have done the job nicely and would have allowed me to open up to f/1.4.

So, I'm hoping you enjoy these images. We had to get creative on this rainy Saturday. I have LOTS more to share, including images we shot outside during a reprieve from the rain and some we shot in my garage while her mom held a giant umbrella over! 

I don't want them to move!!! 


ISO 800    1/40s    f/2.8

{window light and lamp light}


ISO 500    1/50 s    f/2.8

(Window light only}


ISO 500    1/40 s    f/2.8

(Window light only}


ISO 640    1/40 s    f/2.8

{Window light only}


ISO 640    1/40 s    f/2.8

{Window light only}

She's ten you guys. Ten!

Leave a comment:
Christie Stockstill - Daria, this is the daughter of a friend of mine. I loved shooting with her, but they moved to Ohio! I have two beautiful boys. ;)
Daria Ratliff - Is this your daughter? If so, she looks like a doll on this last image. Very pretty all of them!