How to photograph with bad lighting

It is very difficult to make a good picture on the smartphone. Especially if you take pictures at night or with weak light. Most often, such attempts end in failure and disappointment.

Photos are obtained either too dark, or too bright, or have some other flaws. One of the main problems is that with weak light of the camera, smartphones have an unhealthy tendency to increase the shutter speed for better exposure of the pictures. All this leads to the blurring of the image, the so-called Motion Blur.

But do not rush to give up! Next, we share in several ways and tricks that will help make high-quality photos even with weak light.

Turn on the night mode

Depending on the model and the manufacturer of the smartphone, this mode can wear different names. One is simply simple "Night", in others "Night shooting". For example, Smartphones OnePlus support the special function of Nightscape, which includes HDR during shooting with weak light.

If your phone has such a mode (you can check your presence through the camera settings), then be sure to use it. In general, it works similarly to HDR, makes several pictures with different levels of exposure, and then combines and extracts them some parts to create a better outcome image.

Use artificial light

The flash should be able to use it correctly position and configure it. If this is not done, it will only spoil photos - create glare and reduce the detail in the shade. However, the flash is almost on all smartphones, which means this is the easiest way to light the snapshot. If you need to take a photo at night or with weak lighting, then try to turn it on.

But there are other ways to highlight the object. For example, buy an external artificial light source. It is best to use a portable LED panel for this. As a rule, they are inexpensive, but at the same time they strongly increase the final picture quality. Take a look at the Meike S150, which has 150 dimmable LEDs, an internal battery, a power indicator, and a dedicated phone mount.

Artificial light gives you a lot of freedom when shooting. Typically, external flashes come with diffusers that soften the light. Therefore, they allow you to achieve different results, depending on the purpose of shooting.

Adjust the settings manually

Under normal circumstances, auto mode measures exposure well, but when In low light, it does not show itself so well. The camera simply does not understand what exactly you want to photograph, so it starts jumping from one object to another. The best way to improve the quality of a picture is to simply set all the settings manually.

In manual mode, you can generally adjust the ISO (light sensitivity), aperture, and shutter speed. This is the so-called exposure triangle. Now we will not describe it in detail, because. You can read about it in other articles.

All you have to do in manual mode is to let the camera properly expose the image. To do this, you can increase the ISO or shooting speed. Therefore, the most difficult thing is to find the perfect balance here, because changing any parameter has both pluses and minuses. For example, increasing the ISO can lead to the appearance of the so-called digital noise, and changing other parameters can cause blur (motion blur).


Shutter speed should only be increased as much as the subject allows. If you are photographing something still, a few seconds will suffice. The main thing is to make sure that at this moment the smartphone is stationary. Ideally, you should use a tripod or use improvised means (for example, rest your smartphone on some surface). If you are photographing a moving subject, then the ISO will have to be increased. In this case, it will no longer be possible to completely get rid of the noise.

Almost all smartphones have a constant lens aperture. But there are exceptions. For example, some flagships from Samsung and Oppo. Therefore, in low light, it is enough to set the widest aperture. The smaller the F value, the wider the aperture (the larger the aperture of the camera lens and the more light passes through it). That is, F / 1.8 is better than F / 2.8 and in low light it is worth setting F / 1.8.

Take pictures in RAW format whenever possible

RAW is a a digital image file that contains uncompressed and unedited data. For this reason, it has much higher weight compared to the familiar JPG, JPEG and PNG. In recent years, an increasing number of devices offers access to RAW files. Moreover, it concerns not only digital cameras, but also smartphones.

If you have the ability to save pictures in the RAW format, then use it. As a rule, such photos are characterized by better detail and have a higher quality. In addition, the parameters such as white and color balance can be much more efficient.

Edit ready-made photos

Little just to take a photo, the resulting picture is desirable to edit. Especially if the image was done on the smartphone, and even with weak light. You can do this with the help of different software, both on the computer and on the smartphone.

All programs have different features. Therefore, some unified instruction simply does not exist. But we can recommend you certain points that you should pay attention when editing an image.

Be sure to follow the settings that control the exposure, white balance and brightness. For example, from the Snapseed application, all these parameters are in section "Image Setup". Almost everywhere they change with the help of the sliders, which means you can immediately observe the result and set all the values ​​to your taste. If you wish, you can increase the brightness, make shadows and glare more expressive.

Most cameras incorrectly exhibit white balance when shooting in poor illumination conditions. Therefore, be sure to follow these parameters.

Most often to lighten the image, it suffices to increase the ISO value. But in this case, an extra digital noise appears. In addition, after editing, the output quality of the picture may fall, especially if you work with JPEG files. Most applications are able to soften the image and reduce the noise. As a rule, filters "Noise reduction" are used for this or others, with a similar name.