Improve your images
Use these professional tips to set a high baseline standard for your work
In any challenging creative medium, the distinction between expert or professional work and that of individuals with less experience is noticeably exaggerated. The native difficulties of low-light photography make it a challenging genre in which to establish an artistic process, for yielding unique photographs with above-standard technical execution. Before considering how to add creative ‘embellishments’ to your low-light and astro images, it is advisable to first address how to secure a quality baseline standard, free from the characteristic failings.
Firstly, the lack of available light limits quality by introducing distracting noise from two sources – a lower gradient signal-to-noise ratio and the requirement for lengthened exposures. These slow shutter speeds can only be reduced by opening the aperture, which may not be viable in a landscape shot, or by increasing the ISO. Either way noise is largely unavoidable, so knowing how to combat it effectively is essential.
Secondly it is more challenging to assess the quality of images in the field, both preand post-capture, due to lowered visibility. Beyond the capabilities of the camera, the photographer’s skill and creative outlook can both influence image success. Foremost is the user’s understanding of how their equipment functions. A lack of knowledge will mean they are unable to predict where it will struggle and how to compensate for these deficiencies. In addition, an insufficient grasp of the specific challenges of the genre will mean a photographer is unprepared to identify, assess and devise a solution for these problems, as they do not know to look out for such occurrences. Potential solutions begin with a decision to either directly combat an issue or, if this is not feasible within the confines of the environment, take steps to increase opportunities to identify problems early. When working in testing conditions, adopt a ‘shoot more’ philosophy, whereby you take multiple variations of each composition, for the benefit of redundancy – should an image fail, you have a better chance of finding a replacement.
“Before considering to add creative ‘embellishments’, first address how to secure a quality baseline standard”