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When Things Go Wrong: How to Create Wedding Photography in Low Light

Think back to your recent shoots, or even ones from years ago. When was the last time everything went perfectly during one of your wedding shoots? There are distractions and issues that occur during the wedding day which you have no control over, and this is something you learn very quickly as a photographer. But, when things go wrong, it is necessary to be prepared and know how to capture images your couples hired you to take. This is especially true when it comes to low light photography.

Low Light Photography

Picture this. You connect with your couples, they book you, and you prepare for their wedding. When you arrive at the location, you realize the venue or church does not allow any flash or off camera photography lighting to be used. Because you have to fulfill your commitment to the couple, you scramble to find a solution to shooting in the dark without flash.

Another thing to think about is if you are a natural light photographer, and you are shooting in poor lighting conditions, or you are without the option of using the sun or backlighting, or your flash is distracting to your couple and their guests and it ruins their experience with you, you also need to find a way to use your surroundings to take photos for your couples. Even if you can use flash, what happens if something goes wrong with your equipment and you have to resort shooting without it?

As a company that specializes in color correction services for photographers, we’ve heard many stories from pros of various situations that can happen. Regardless of the situation, shooting dark photography without flash can be challenging and often frustrating for you. We’ve gathered a few tips for you to use during your shoots so you can combat this issue and provide stunning photos your couples will love.

Work with Ambient Light

Whether you are a natural light photographer or not, understanding how to shoot in the dark without flash (and only ambient light) can make a large difference in your abilities. Since ambient light can be anything from window light, street lights, or additional lighting in a location, learn how to work with it to properly light your photos.

black and white bridal prep

Image by ShootDotEdit Wedding Pro, Danny Dong Photography

If you find out you cannot use flash at a location, try to scout the area to see what type of ambient light is available. This can help you quickly position yourself during the wedding day, rather than spending time looking around for light during the shoot. During every part of the shoot, look for windows, doors, and surrounding light to enhance your shooting experience.

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Tip: Connect with the venue you are shooting at ahead of time to see if you can use some non-intrusive LED lights or continuous lights instead of a flash. You can also ask if the lights in the church or other location (if there are lights) can be turned on or up.

Related: How can identifying the characteristics of photography lighting help you create unforgettable images, no matter the scenario?

Adjust Camera Settings

When you shoot in the dark without flash, it is necessary for you to adjust your camera settings. Start with the ISO and adjust it to be higher so your camera becomes sensitive to the light it’s receiving. This also means you might need to adjust your shutter speed and aperture so you allow more light to enter your camera to help you achieve the images you desire. These adjustments are especially helpful when you are in a location, such as a church, that doesn’t allow you to use flash.

If you decide to work with iso settings for low light wedding photography and do not want to risk the quality of your images, consider using a monopod (a one-legged tripod). This helps you capture more stable shots by reducing the camera shake so you can avoid delivering blurry images.

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Choose the Best Lens

As you choose a lens to use while shooting in the dark without flash, look for one that has the widest aperture. When you use a lens with a wide aperture, you allow as much light as possible into the frame. This allows you to take photos without a flash, which is perfect for locations that will not allow you to use additional light sources. In a situation where you have limited light, and cannot use a flash, this is something to consider when you choose the lenses to bring along with you.

Tip: Even if you have a lens with a wide aperture, you do not always have control over every lighting situation. To combat this, shoot in RAW for the best results. When you shoot in RAW, the image has more information that can later be salvaged in Lightroom by a wedding photography editing company, like ShootDotEdit. Think about it this way – if you take a photo in the church and all you can see is the window light, and the rest of the photo is dark, there is a higher chance the rest of the image can be lightened and sent to your couples when shot in RAW.

As you discover how to shoot in the dark without flash, and create low light photography, you expand your photography skills. The more wedding photography tips lighting you learn, the easier it will be for you to shoot in any location possible. What else do you need to know about lighting during the wedding day? Our Lighting Guide for Wedding Photographers has 26 key tips from Roberto Valenzuela’s #1 bestselling book, Picture Perfect Lighting. Click the banner below to discover photography lighting tips from one of the industry’s experts!

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