Home » Blog » The low light photography field guide

The low light photography field guide

In my research the ‘language of light’, I’ve been looking into the technicalities of low light photography and as well as some online research, read Michael Freeman’s book, The Low Light Photography Field Guide.

As usual with Freeman, the book is clearly and concisely written. It is very much a technical guide rather than a creative guide, but this is what I wanted. The text is in three main sections; a) a general introduction to Low Light including sensor limitations, light sources, colour temperatures, camera settings and post-production aspects; b) specific information on working handheld in low light, including steadying techniques, explanations of sharpness and types of blur, and noise, along with related post-production techniques; and c) working locked down using a tripod, including multi-exposure and blending techniques and applications within different types of software.

The book left me with a greater understand of possible technical approaches to low light photography and practical aspects. For example how good camera handling increases the chance of useable shots at relatively low shutter speeds.

What it did not address was the calculation or estimation of correct exposure settings for bulb exposures of over 30 seconds.  I was surprised and disappointed that this was not mentioned at all. For now, I am left experimenting with Gock’s approach of taking a light reading at a high ISO of 6400 (roughly a x60 multiple of 100 ISO), reducing the ISO to 100 and apply a 60 multiple to the time value at ISO 6400 – so broadly time in seconds becomes time in minutes. As my Fuji X-T1 as a minimum ISO of 200, I then need to divide the calculated time by two.

Armed with this technical information, I will now experiment with some shots!


Freeman M. The Low Light Photography Field Guide. Ilex ebook. Amazon Kindle edition. [accessed 6.6.15]

Gibson A. Gibson Photography Blog [online]. Using Bulb for long exposure photography. Available from: http://www.andrewsgibson.com/blog/2012/05/using-bulb-long-exposure-photography/ [accessed 6.6.15]

Gock A. The Newcastle Photographer [online blog]. How to calculate exposures quickly at night timehttp://gock.net/2010/02/how-to-calculate-exposures-quickly-at-night-time/ [accessed 6.6.15]

Comments here