Shooting in tight, low light situations

I had a great time the other night shooting a Birthday party, and it highlighted how difficult it can be to shoot events in less than ideal situations. I have a background in Theatre photography so I'm used to working at wide apertures and high ISO (meaning large hole for light to enter and high camera sensitivity to light), these are both difficult to wrestle with but with the knowledge you can get your shots looking fabulous.

Here's a little slideshow of some photos from the party, nothing too complex, just run and gun impromptu event shooting:

This is all shot using a Nikon D750 for keeping high ISO files clean and colourful, a Sigma Art line 35mm f/1.4 to soak in lots of light, and a SB-910 flash off camera with a little softbox for some group shots.

Ideally you want a longer focal length when you're photographing people, but in close quarters, you can't just stay 5 metres away from your subject and expect nothing to be in the way, so you have to get closer, and shoot wider. My advice is avoid zooms, you're never going to get anywhere near as much light in, and at any focal length it will be less corrected, prone to more distortion. This particular 35mm lens is so SHARP that you can crop to hell and still get more detail than you would from a zoom lens, at a longer focal length. It's like having a 35-70mm range when you include the field of view change of cropping.

So, if you need to take photos in tight low light situations, pick a fast prime lens at the shortest focal length you think you'll need, and stick it on a body that can cope with high ISO. Having a modern full frame sensor will get you through most scenarios.

Have a great day everyone,

Chris O'Grady, COG