In this part of our photography lighting tutorial series, I will take a look at a simple light source that everyone has at their disposal. I have to confess that when I set out to try this technique, I had never experimented with ordinary indoor lights before. However, with the improvements in the low light abilities of digital cameras it seemed like something that should be possible.
The reality proved to be a very pleasant surprise. The shot below was taken at only ISO 400, f/2.8 and 1/50th of a second (there is an explanation of these settings in Exposure and ISO-Exposure).
Avoiding Camera Shake
Bedside lights are not very bright, so camera shake is the main obstacle to success with this technique. This particular shot was taken on a zoom lens at 43mm, so 1/50th of a second is on the border of what could be hand-held, but I chose to mount the camera on a tripod just to be sure. Note that I could also have increased the ISO to 800, giving me a more forgiving 1/100th of a second shutter speed. I decided against this in order to minimise the noise that higher ISO settings tend to add.
You man need to experiment with different White Balance settings on your camera when using this type of lighting. My Canon 40D was set to Auto White Balance when I took the shot opposite, and I was pleased with the warm glow that it cast over Natalia. By overriding the Auto setting, I could have increased this further or produced a cool blue image – its a technique worth expermenting with!