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Tips for Shooting Candlelight Photography

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

Candlelight provides a warm glow that gives photography a terrific vibe. However, because it is low light, it can be challenging to get the enough illumination for your photos. And if you add too much light, the candles won’t provide the right effect.

So, what can you do to get terrific candlelit photos? Here are some helpful tips and tricks.

What is Candlelight Photography?

Candlelight photography is any type of photography that uses candles as the main light source. Candles may be included in the picture, they may be the theme of the picture or they may just provide illumination for the image.

Technical Considerations

Because the photo will be taken in low light, your ISO should be pushed up high. This will allow for a fast shutter speed. Your aperture will adjust accordingly.

Adjust White Balance

If your camera is in auto, it will assess the light temperature and adjust white balance accordingly. However, it may not always provide the perfect results.

Therefore, you will want to set your camera to low light mode in white balance settings to capture the desired orange glow. If your camera allows for a customized entry, set it to 2000-3000 Kelvin.

Use a Wide Aperture and Long Lens

When shooting candlelight, it’s best to use a wide aperture (low aperture number) that lets in more light. This will allow for a slower shutter speed.

It’s also advisable to use a long lens as opposed to a wide lens. This will help you capture the small area of illumination the candle provides.

It’s advisable to shoot with at least a 50mm lens that can photograph at f/1.2. This provides the perfect field of depth for complementing the soft light.

Check the Framing and Background

When you are shooting in low light, it’s easy to forget about the part of the frame that’s not illuminated. Doing so will produce unflattering results that you may not notice until the shoot is over. Therefore, you will want to check the framing carefully before you start to shoot.

Use More Candles

If you are not getting enough light in your picture, considering adding more candles. This option is preferrable to adding other light sources that may not complement the candlelight. You can also position your candles, even taking them out of frame, so they provide the best light for your images.

Use Reflectors

It’s not advisable to add different sources of light to illuminate your pictures but a reflector will work well. Reflectors can be positioned opposite the candles to bounce light back on the subject. If you don’t have a reflector, any white surface will do.

Move Your Subject Around if Necessary

Moving your candles around will change the way the light hits the subject. But if you are not getting the desired results when moving the candles, try moving the subject itself. This will produce unique effects and help capture shadows that can add to the photo’s aesthetic.

Measure Light Based on the Subject

Using a light meter can be challenging in candlelight. It can be thrown off by the combination of a dark background and bright light source. For best results, get your subject in place first and use them as your starting points.

Check your other settings and take different readings to account for the light and dark areas of your frame.

Shooting in candlelight can produce a lovely effect, but it can be challenging to get the lighting perfect. The tips in this article will help you work around limitations so you can get some impressive results. How will you be setting up for your next candlelight shoot?


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