How to take pictures in a dark room?

  • I'm a total newbie to photography. I have a Nikon D90 and at the moment I'm trying to learn how to actually use it.

    I've noticed that whenever I shoot in a dark room with the on-camera pop up flash, the picture looks somewhat unrealistic; I don't know how to precisely describe it, but this slight motion that makes pictures look alive is not captured (probably due to the high shutter speed). If I turn the flash off, pictures are just dark and obscure.

    Is there a way to shoot (not necessarily still) objects, with or without flash is actually not important, but to be able to capture the live image? Also would be nice to be able to see something on those images.

    When you say flash, do you mean the on-camera pop up flash or a speedlight?

    exactly that, on-camera popup flash, i didn't know there was something else

    See Nikon Speedlights Lineup for something else. :)

    Thought the question was about taking pictures where you're trying to develop film. :\

    The short answer is: "by making it (a lot) less dark, at least briefly."

  • Itai

    Itai Correct answer

    10 years ago

    When you take pictures with the flash, it looks unreal because your room is not normally lit by a flash or by only a light source attached to your forehead.

    Now, assuming your room is dark but not pitch black, what you need to do it take a photo without the flash. To get better results you will have to:

    • Increase your ISO as high as it is acceptable to you. You can go to 1600 or 3200 if you do not intend to make a large print with the image.
    • Open your aperture as wide as possible. You do this in A mode and turn the dial until you get a bright aperture (smaller numbers). You will see the shutter-speed increase at the same time if you are doing it right.
    • Buy yourself a brighter lens. Something with a wide maximum aperture. A number of not so expensive ones have F/1.8 or F/1.4 (even better). This lets it get 2-4X times more light than the kit lens, depending of the focal-length.

    Note that there is always a limit. At one point, it becomes too dark for any camera and lens. If you have people in your room, then the shutter-speed should at least be 1/60 if they are still and probably 1/250 if they are moving. Otherwise they will appear blurry.

    Once it becomes too low you can add artificial lighting but you are looking at a heavy and expensive setup to make it look close to natural.

    I just pictured a flash popping up out of some guy's forehead.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM