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Digital Photography Tip: How to get Correct Exposure and Avoid Blurry Photos in Low Light. 55 Comments


In this video I show you the four variables to keep in mind when trying to get a correct exposure with your Digital camera. I also go over some tips on making sure that your photos are sharp, even in low light.

Sorry it’s been a while since I posted a photography tip. Greyscalegorilla has been really C4D heavy lately, mostly because I have been using Cinema so much recently. I will definitely try to keep up with these photography tips. In fact, drop me a comment below about what tip you would you like to see next.

BTW: This is my Current Photo Gear

City Kit
Texture Kit Pro

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This is a friendly community. Please treat everyone with respect. We don't all have to agree, but we do have to be nice. Criticism is fine, but rude comments and name calling will be deleted. Use your real name and don't be spammy. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

55 Comments

    • Charlene Atterbury

      Stunning stunning intro on how to balance the f/stop, shutter and iso in lower light. well explained. Thank you so much

      Reply
  1. I think this tutorial would be more effective with inserts of photos as examples or maybe a LIVE VIEW of the camera’s LCD in the corner if possible. Other than that great tips! Could you do a lens comparison of different lengths (primes vs telephoto). I know you included your gear but showing maybe examples from the different lens you use would be helpful. Keep it up gerrrillah.

    Reply
  2. Mattski

    Nick, in your last camera tut you showed us timelapse photography…could you explain how you got the shots to be extremely bright to normal? Are those shots animated in After Effects using levels or are you slowly taking over-exposed shots (bracketing)?
    A proper timelapse tutorial is needed…and I mean continuation from the Conan O’Brien TL shoot you did…some people are still wondering how you imported your JPEG sequence in After Effects and what effects you used etc etc….

    Reply
    • Time-Lapse is a lot easier to achieve this with as it is done with the tripod /intervalometer combination. Photos will be nice and still regardless of your exposure length so you can crank the f-stop all the way down, the ISO all the way down, and lengthen out the exposure as necessary.

      You’ll of course need to make some minor adjustments for the tilt and pan shots, but you’re still moving so slowly that you’ll be able to get away with some really low (no grain/noise, long or short depth of field) settings on everything but the shutter speed.

      Reply
    • Mattski

      We already had that tutorial, Paul (see his Photography Tutorial link and look for TimeLapse).

      Reply
    • MeatMachine

      Drag all the stills into the make new comp in AE then choose to stagger them and make them all 1 frame, then render. The bright to normal is a bracket that starts overexposed to normal exposure. Just play around with your camera and see what works for you.

      Reply
  3. Mattski

    One other thing: F Stops

    This term derived from the blocks of wood that were used to ‘stop’ the light in early cameras. In the absence of aperture settings, the stops had different sized holes drilled into them.

    Wooden stops became metal stops and then adjustable irises.

    The f/stop is credited to 19th century photographer John Waterhouse and was originally called the Waterhouse Stop.

    :-)

    Reply
  4. Great rundown of the basics there. I always give the same speech before I hand my camera over to a friend at a party or something.

    “Can’t I just turn the flash on?” “No!”.

    There’s really only a few things you have to understand about light hitting the sensor, but you were right when you said this could be multiple tutorials. Lens length and how that affects light / DoF could be its own lesson as well. There’s also all the filters, or adjusting exposures in RAW, etc.

    Keep up the photo posts! Cinema 4D is fun, but I’m much worse at that than photography, haha.

    BTW, I was having some beers here in Chicago with some designer buddies, and met your buddy Brad (Hopcast guy). Small world, Chicago is.

    Reply
  5. rich nosworthy

    We like the cinema tutorials tho! : )

    Although photography’s good too

    Reply
  6. Hey Nick,

    Thanks for getting back to photography! I’d love to see a tutorial about working with strobes. Maybe take a few of your favourite photos, that obviously are shot with strobes and break down the lighting set-ups. Wether they be your own shots or other pro shots, being able to see gear set-up really helps break down the walls.

    Also any photoshop tricks you might have up your sleeve always seem to help!

    Thanks!

    Reply
  7. Nick, great intro there…definitely helpful.

    I got a couple of questions that have surfaced from watching other photogs…

    The EV is supposed to modify the calculation done by the camera, so the camera sets the exposure for the scene and by using the EV you can tell it to overexpose or underexpose, now this is supposed to work when it’s on automatic mode…but it shouldn’t have any effect when shooting in full manual. Now would that be correct? I’ve heard that for HDR photos you want to get different EV levels, but if I’m shooting manual shouldn’t that have no effect?

    Hopefully I explained myself well…if not let me know and I’ll try to rephrase it :)

    Reply
    • That makes sense…how about the bracketing feature in some of the higher end cameras? would that have an effect when using M?

      Reply
    • Hi,Gorilla
      Great basic photo tutorial.
      @Luis,”.. would that have an effect when using M?” Yes, make a manual normal exposure and use auto bracketing 3 shots ex. -1 – 0 – +1 (better use a tripod) then you will have 3 photos with 3 different exposures, mix together in any HDR software and then you will see the effect when you play with the software, I suggest photomatix pro is very good complement to photoshop.

      Reply
  8. Hey Nick, I have been shooting HDR images recently. Do you have a specific process after shooting you do to RAW files to enhance them.. what are things to look for? etc.

    I am using photomatrix shooting with Canon 40D in all kinds of different light. Basically my goal is to reduce as much noise as possible. Know any tricks to help a brotha out?

    Reply
  9. Hayley

    Hi Nick

    Thanks a lot for the Photography Tutorial really like the site i do abit of photography but also use after effects and starting to use C4d, find photography really interesting

    so thanks

    Reply
  10. henri

    This might be unnecessary but one thing to keep in mind when shooting with large aperature lenses is the chromatic aberration which might get too noticeable with f-stops 1.4 or 1.8. At least my nikon 50mm gives some weird result with f1.4 time to time.

    Reply
  11. Asela

    Thanks for the great tutorial Nick. I bought my DSLR a year ago and was really confused and lost over this shutter speed, aperture, ISO, f-stop blah blah thing. I didn’t know what did what and how to control them. It took me a lot of time to learn them. WISH THIS TUTORIAL WAS OUT A YEAR AGO MAN. This solves a whole lotta pain for an amateur photographer.

    thanks heaps.

    Reply
  12. Never really cared about these tutorials in the past (still watched them though) but since I got my t2i I’ve gone back and looked at them again.
    Please keep the photography stuff coming!

    Reply
  13. John Harvey

    Cool Stuff Nick. Glad to see you actually responded to my last comment.

    This is great basic stuff that I tend not to think about since I don’t shoot on a daily basis. I mean, we all know this, but when I’m asked to shoot for an event (work related or for a function) with the ever changing lighting scenarios, I often feel I won’t be able to control every shot and tend to shoot “Auto/Auto” in hopes that the camera will do a better than I can manually…and that’s certainly false, but I don’t want to miss anything. Bad enough you can’t always tell the photo is blurry from the lcd…look great until you get it home on the big screen ?

    Going over the in-camera metering system, or the different metering modes would be helpful too.

    Thanks for not forgetting about the photogs.

    Reply
    • I would use Aperture Mode and limit your shutter speed to 1/80th of a second at the slowest. You may need to raise the ISO for that.

      Reply
    • John Harvey

      Limit to 1/80th – You mean, shutter priority mode then?

      Reply
  14. Thanks for all the great stuff, Nick!
    I must say of all your stuff I like the photography tips best, next to tips and trick in AE.

    Reply
  15. Hey, Nick. Could you please make a tutorial what notebook to buy and at which technical aspects to look if you want to have the best performance with programs like After Effects, Cinema4D and so on?

    Reply
    • It’s always about Chip speed, Graphics card speed and a ton of RAM. Make those all as fast and as much you can.

      Reply
  16. Great post Nick, but i have a question a bit off topic.

    Looking at what you have in the back there, what printer/scanner would you recommend for printing photos/digital works?

    Reply
  17. Hello Nick, thank you for the tutorial!

    I would like to get some pointers on buying the right camera. At the moment I’m using Canon powershot SX110IS, it’s not very great and at some point I need to get a good systems camera (is that the right word even?). But anyways, do you have any examples of cameras that have good quality-price ratio? Doesn’t have to be too professional camera, something suitable for students budjet.

    Also would be nice to know at least the main aspects on what to pay attention on when buying a camera, I know quite a few things myself, but I would keep your opinion and knowledge in a lot higher value than my own knowledge. :)

    Reply
  18. mario agustin

    ola muchas gracias gorrilla por tus tutoriales olles espero no molestarte y espero esta sea la zona correcta para poner alguna duda
    bueno mira quisiera ver si me puedes ayudar a encontrar la forma de hacer este efecto en mis letras http://vimeo.com/9154385 quiero lograr que tomen la forma como en el ejemplo lo estoy pensando hacer en cinema 4d y en el realflow pero quisiera una opinion de un experto gracias

    Reply
  19. mario agustin

    gorrilla wave thank you very much for your tutorials Olles hope not to bother and I hope this is the correct area to put in doubt
    looks good would like to see if I can help find ways to do this effect in my lyrics http://vimeo.com/9154385 I make take the form as in the example I’m thinking of doing in cinema 4d and RealFlow but I would like an expert opinion because

    Reply
  20. Hey Nick,

    This sounds great. I love that you’re going to be incorporating photography tips into your blog.

    I’d be really grateful if you could give some tips on shooting in low light conditions. I’m currently using a Nikon D500 with an SB-600 Flash. A lot of the work I do is event photography and at times these convention centers are just so dark. I use the flash a lot of the time, but it only seems to be a big help when the ceiling is low and I have a bounce. Otherwise, most of the photos just come out way to grainy. Any tips?

    Thanks

    Reply
  21. BryanH

    Hey thanks a million for the tutorial.
    Any chance you’d do a tutorial on how to go about shooting for a wedding or other events?
    I’m doing the photography at a family wedding in a few months and any tips and tricks you’ve learnt from you experiences would be great.
    Thanks

    Reply
  22. This is my first time over to greyscalegorilla, I’ve gotta say, that was awesome.

    As a suggestion, that was total podcast material. I’d love to have that kind of stuff on my iPhone to listen to on the way to school.

    Really impressed man, thanks for the tut. I was shooting a band a few weeks ago and just now realized that I could’ve cranked my ISO. I had done everything but.

    Reply
  23. Thanks for all the great work you do Nick! Question: What is you photo filing system? I ditched aperture, cause I didn’t like the weird unknown space it sends my photos. With that said, I am struggling with a solid filing/organizing system. Any thoughts?

    Reply
    • I use a system of folders set up by year, month and day. I separate them into different camera types if I need to. I then use Bridge to rate and tag important events.

      Reply
  24. Michelle

    Great foundational tutorial Nick! Love watching your photography tutes – keep em coming!

    Reply
  25. I want to buy a Canon EOS 7D for making photos and shooting video as well.

    Which lens would you recommend?

    Thanks a lot,
    Max

    Reply
  26. Sameer Deshpande

    Hey Nick, thanks a lot for this tutorial…it would also be rally nice if you could give some tips on how much post processing is acceptable when processing a raw file.
    thanks!

    Reply
    • How much? It depends on what your going for. Just tweak it until it looks right. This takes the most practice.

      Reply
  27. Hi Nick great tips on the basics of exposure, you really explained it clearly and succinctly. Although I believe you forgot to add that if you want use a slow shutter speed to let more light in then you could use a tripod or monopod. This would prevent the blurriness that you would get by taking the photo holding the camera in your hands.

    Reply
  28. Dood. I like your vidoes but you need to stop picking at your nose and for-all-that-is-good BURP it all out before you press record.

    Reply
  29. Sylvia

    I just watched the video and I really liked it,although at 12.06 mins you said “bigger numbers are bigger holes”. I’m afraid that you made a mistake there.An f/22 for example will have a tiny hole in comparison to f1.4 where the opening of the lens is the widest (on a f/1.4 lens)

    Reply
  30. jim sartor

    Iam going to be doing wedding pics as a back up photographer. What mode is best to shoot in with all of the lighting changes throughout the day? TY

    Reply

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Comment Rules

This is a friendly community. Please treat everyone with respect. We don't all have to agree, but we do have to be nice. Criticism is fine, but rude comments and name calling will be deleted. Use your real name and don't be spammy. Thanks for adding to the conversation.