How to Take Photos in Low Light | Capturing the Nap

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I am Neyssa Lee a Seattle area photographer, mom of 6, planning obsessed, and who help you see the beauty, love and joy, in your own family’s chaos. I also use my super power of time management to help fellow photographers take control of their businesses. Learn more by heading to my ABOUT ME page.

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Light, light, more light! I’m always looking for beautiful light for my photo sessions. But the impact an image can have when taken in low light makes knowing how to take photos in low light that much more important. Imagine your child sleeping so peacefully. Is the room brightly lit, or are there shadows with a little light shining on them?
This summer has been full of changes for our little Sawyer. She is becoming more and more of a “three-nager,” she is potty training, she has weaned from her paci, and she has basically stopped taking naps (yes, I am pretty sad about the loss of those glorious naps). These transitions have been so hard for both her and I. They are charged full of emotions and struggle. One extra difficult day, she fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion. As I went to wake her up I saw glimpses of my sweet, baby girl, and the “big” girl she is becoming. Instead of rushing to wake her, I paused a moment and realized I needed to remember this time. So I grabbed my camera and captured this moment. To me, this image speaks so loudly of our summer, and it is the mix of soft light and dark shadows that play into the emotion captured.

The biggest lesson I was reminded of when taking this image was to pause. Summer can be such a whirlwind of fun, and sunshine, and go-go-go! It was nice to take a moment to capture this quiet image.

How to Take Photos in Low Light | Photo Recipe

ISO: 1000,  Aperture: f/1.4, Shutter Speed: 1/60

how to take photos in low light, Summer Photo Challenge, low light

SET UP: You’ll need a sleeping child to pull this photo off. (Sorry for the obvious!) I find it helps to plan ahead by getting your camera settings close and knowing the image you want to take before sneaking into your child’s room. Naps are like gold in my house, so I don’t want to waste time and possibly wake anyone before it’s time! Before nap, get your camera out, practice your settings, and notice the light (or lack thereof) in the room. Once you’re in the room, crack the curtains just a little bit to let in some light. You don’t want them all the way open as it may let in too much light. As you move the curtain, pay attention to how much light is hitting your child.

SETTINGS: In a low light image, it is all about letting in the most amount of light possible. Start by setting your ISO to 1000 or more. With a small amount of light, you’ll need your camera to be as sensitive as possible to the available light. Next, pick an aperture that is wide open, or close to it. I used f/1.4 on my 50mm lens. This not only helps let in more light, but blurs out more of the background that I don’t want (like beneath her crib). Finally, set your shutter speed to 1/125 or even lower if you still need more light.

COMPOSE: Pay attention the light light and shadows, and play around with your composition. I decided to frame the image horizontally, to show off the texture of her pillow friend and to have the light that’s shining between the bed slats, almost as a leading line right to her face.

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