Low Light Focusing

Taking photos at night using the spotlight or even a flash can be very challenging. The one thing that I have been struggling with is getting my focus correct as the auto focus is having trouble recognising points on which to focus. I tried manual focus but again, with the low light conditions, I too found it difficult to get the focus “spot on”. The auto focus capabilities of different camera bodies will vary and the type of lens will also influence things.


I take all my night pictures with a 70-200mm f2.8 Nikon lens. This allows much more light to enter the camera, enabling me to get much faster shutter speeds – thereby allowing me to freeze some action such as walking or grooming etc. However, when you have a static subject you can afford a slower shutter speed as long as you have a steady base for the camera.


In both of these photographs I decreased the aperture to f5.6 to allow for an increased depth of field. This gave me a little bit more room for error, with my focusing allowing the images to come out looking super sharp. With the decreased aperture I had to slow the shutter speed down to 1/25th of a second in the first photo and 1/30th in the second. At such low shutter speeds it was vitally important that I rested my camera on a beanbag to avoid any camera shake. The photos were also slightly under-exposed to allow a slightly faster shutter speed. I increased the exposure in the post processing.

Both photos were taken with a Nikon D7000 with my 70-200mm f2.8 Nikon lens with the ISO set 1600. They were taken in manual mode to allow me the freedom to dictate the amount of light that I would allow in. Good luck with those night pictures.

Expose your balance

Richard de Gouveia

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