Natural or Ambient Light Photography

Shooting without flash: What are the implications and guidelines?


What should photographers do if a venue does not allow flash photography? What are the implications of shooting without flash?


I would suggest that if your digital camera has the function to change the ISO setting, set it as high as it will go. For example, 1600 or 3200 ISO. This makes the sensor more sensitive to light therefore reducing the need for flash. It will also cause the pictures to become slightly grainy though. If so you could run them through a program called Neat image.

This is available as a plug in for Photoshop, or as a standalone program meaning that you don’t need any other programs to run it. If you have a fast lens too, that will help. Use F4 or 2.8 if you have it.

If you are using a film camera and shooting without flash, buy an 800 or 1600 ISO film. Then do the same after scanning to your PC. You could also "Push" the film meaning put an 800 ISO film in it, but change the camera setting to 1600.

This way you are actually getting faster speeds but "underexposing" the film, so when you take it to be developed, explain what you have done, and they will make any necessary adjustments to get the film developed correctly.


I will be shooting with film. Re: Pushing the film. Does that mean I have to shoot on manual vs. setting my camera on the automatic function?


No, you can still have the camera on automatic mode. To explain what I mean, and if you have time, try this. Buy a 400 ISO (ASA) film, put it in your camera, but set the Camera’s ISO setting to 800 or 1600 for ALL the photos you take on that film. That way you will get faster shutter speeds because the camera thinks it has a more sensitive film in it.

The result is that your camera will underexpose the film as the ISO was set wrong, BUT REMEMBER that when you take it to a pro store to be developed, explain EXACTLY what you have done and they will compensate when developing the film. If you forget to tell them, your pictures will be ruined and unrecoverable!!! You should end up with some decent shots. Try it first to experiment, but if you are not sure, do not do it where the photos are final.

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