Flash Photography – Low Light Event

Someone asked me recently how to photograph an event in low light using flash. They have shot similar events in low light before, but were not very happy with the results. So, I gave them some very simple advice: Use a dedicated on camera flash (TTL, E-TTL, i-TTL… etc.) that is compatible with your camera. In their case it was a Nikon D300 camera with a Nikon SB-600 flash. I told them to set their flash to TTL and their camera to manual. After that, I told them to set their ISO between 100 and 400 and forget it. They had a hard time with setting their camera to, what they thought, was such a low ISO. I told them, “Trust me.” They did, and set their camera to 400 ISO (a little bit of trust). I then told them to set their aperture to around f/5.6 and then forget that too. You should have seen the look on their face. “What??? I don’t have to keep adjusting the aperture?” Nope, just set it and forget it! Finally, I told them to only adjust their shutter speed to control the ambient light. The higher the shutter speed the less ambient light will reach the sensor, the lower the shutter speed, more ambient light will reach the sensor. Finally, I told them to keep the shutter speed above 1/60 sec. to keep things from getting blurry. The best part of this technique is the the flash will only have to adjust it’s output to the distance your subject is away from the camera, and that’s it. Off they went to shoot the event. The next day, after the event, I heard that the number of photos that turn out has dramatically increased. They were so happy and they couldn’t thank me enough for my advice. I cant guarantee the technique above will work for every event, but it’s a good starting point. Do you have any tips or tricks you use when shooting events? If you do, please share them in the comments below.

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