In my quest to improve as a photographer, one of the more challenging areas has been shooting in low light and night photography. This is where faster lenses and the ability to manually operate a camera makes a difference. Programmed settings and auto-focus quickly become unusable due to the amount of available light. And a slower lens can often leave one disappointed with blurry pictures because of longer exposure times. While I don’t think you need the best equipment on the market. A good camera body and a lens that shoots at an aperture of 2.8 or higher is needed to prevent blur from the longer exposure times of a slower lens. Most of my low light photography is done with a Sigma 17-50 mm lens. I find that a lens with optical stabilization and large optics work well for me. And the ability to operate your equipment without having to see the controls all of the time is needed to achieve sharp pictures. The long exposure times warrant having a rock solid tripod. Being a budget minded photographer that still looks for quality, I have found that the Pantan Q6-Plus is very good. I have used this tripod for outdoor photography in 30 mph winds and it didn’t move. It is heavier than a carbon fiber tripod, but I have found that if you are not carrying it very far it works great and is easy to use. And I can hang other equipment off of it without it affecting the performance of the tripod.
There is also a plethora of other equipment that I have found to be useful at different times in low light photography. Some of my favorite accessory equipment is a good remote shutter release to ensure that I don’t shake the camera and change the focus. I have tried several different releases and the ones that I use are the Pixel Pro shutter release and a Neewer cabled shutter release. I find that a mini-level and a small flashlight are also very helpful in setting up for shots and ensuring that I am level with the horizon. And this list of other accessories and equipment for different situations is only limited by one’s creativity and budget. With this equipment I find that I can get solid results without breaking the bank. So, come play in the dark and always remember to “shoot the world with light.”
After the light of the fire had said its last goodbyes, we shuffled off to greet our tent. As we pulled back the cover on our sleeping bag, we reminisced about how the day had slipped away from us. And the stillness of the night had come again without warning. As I laid there it crept in like an unwelcomed friend. At first, it came as a small urge that I tried to deny. But it slowly grew in the stillness of the night and I could no longer push it off. As I laid still in my sleeping bag, I pretended that it would just go away, but I knew better. The midnight light shuffle had come and trying to deny it was useless. I slowly crawled from my nicely arranged place of comfort and began the search for the light. As I tried to quietly click on the light, I heard it. That lone voice from another that was trying to ignore the need. As we crawled out from inside of our tent, the darkness greeted us and the midnight shuffle had begun. Over the years I have used many different flashlights for the shuffle. But through trial and error and just plain bad luck in a dark outhouse, I have learned the need for a god light. Some outhouses have electric lights and others in more remote or older campgrounds don’t have this convenience. But, after many experiences with different styles of lights. I have found that any light can be useful provided it doesn’t die during the trip.
I found that the old tube style lights can easily roll out of reach when one needs it the most. I have had the hat style clip-on lights go for a swim in a shallow pool. Only to have it light up things I did not want to see in the night. It is at these times that I felt the most abandoned by my light. I have found that a good headlamp style light fits the bill the best. They tend to stay where I put them, on my head. They don’t roll away or slide into unreachable places. And they are often adjustable so I can easily see on a dark path or road at the end of my midnight shuffle. And their size makes them easy to pack and carry until they are needed. They are also great for reading and playing games at night or in a tent. The long straps allow you to hang them from just about anywhere. We have found that a couple of good headlamps and a propane lantern are a great combination when traveling and camping. They are also my go to for doing night and astrophotography. Drop me line about your favorite lights for traveling and camping. And always, “Shoot the world with light.”