Post & Photo by Joe Farace Follow Joe on Twitter
It doesn’t matter what you call it available light, unavailable light, available darkness, or just plain low light, the fact is that some of my most rewarding photographs were produced when working under challenging lighting conditions. There are several reasons for that:
First, there’s the thrill of overcoming technical obstacles normally prevent you from producing a well-exposed image.
Next, photographs made under conditions different from the Sunny 16 rule conditions are more eye-catching.
Finally, making images at other than normal lighting conditions, such as after dawn or before sunset will produce photographs that will make yours look different from the rest of the competition.
To make successful pictures under low light conditions, you’ll need a few extra non-photographic tools. Even though most cameras have backlit panels for their control LCDs, you’ll want a small LED flashlight so you can see all of the cameras other controls and be able make all the proper settings. It beats working in the dark. I use a NightStar (www.appliedinnotech.com) flashlight which are made in nearby Fort Lupton but if you’re not sure visit the LED Museum on line (http://ledmuseum.candlepower.us/led/ledleft.htm) to see what’s available.
It’s often cold during some of these nighttime sessions so my next favorite accessory is fingerless gloves that let me work with the camera while keeping my paws warm. I use a pair of woolies from Eastern Mountain Sports (www.ems.com) but these kinds of gloves are available in lots of other outdoor stores as well.
Get a pair of mittens for your tripod too. Op/Tech USA’s (www.optechusa.com) Tripod Leg Wraps keeps cold metal legs under wraps and away from your skin. They also protect the legs against damage and give you added protection against shoulder fatigue. The Cordura Leg Wraps are available in 1″, 114″ and 112″ diameter leg sizes and the 17-inch inner pad can be customized to fit the user’s tripod by merely cutting the foam with a serrated knife.
If you’re serious about nighttime architectural photography you’ll also need a ladder, so why not get one with wheels such as Franzus industrial grade aluminum LadderKart. It’s indispensable not only for getting a little elevation during your next late night photo shoot but its also a less tedious way to schlep all that gear!
Joe is the co-author of “Better Available Light Digital Photography” (http://amzn.to/dHhgOQ) published by Focal Press.