Available Light

“Available light“ is the light that is at hand. Natural and artificial light can provide “available light”.

The term “available light“ draws a line between light at hand and light created especially for an image (e.g. studio lighting, flash etc.). It is a collective term for a variety of lighting conditions and the only thing they have in common is the fact that no other light sources were used to specifically to capture an image. Often the term “available light” is used in connection with poor and dark lighting conditions, e.g. night, dusk…

Use of available light photography
There are multiple reasons to forego further light sources.

  • At events, e.g. concert photography, theatre
  • so as not to disturb the other people
  • so as not to ruin the lighting mood
  • Lack of additional light sources
  • Technical difficulties and reaching the limits of an additional light source
  • Very large or objects in the far distance that can only be illuminated at great expense
  • Deliberate use of available light to preserve the atmosphere


Problems/difficulties of available light photography

  • A common problem with available light photography is blurring (camera motion during exposure period) or motion blurring, caused by the subject moving during the period of exposure.
  • In available light photography, the lighting can only be controlled to a certain extent. Besides the problem of “sparse light“, there is also the fact that very high contrasts in brightness can occur. If they exceed the camera’s contrast range, this can result in overexposed light and/or underexposed shadows.
  • It also difficult to achieve the correct white balance, especially in mixed lighting conditions.


Technical/problem solution in available photography

  • Highly sensitive films or the use of high ISO settings on digital cameras – More information on ISO rates …
  • Use of a tripod is the best way to ensure blur-free images for stationary subjects (e.g. architecture).
  • Image stabiliser
    • Reduces the risk of blurring and enables a 4-8x faster shutter speeds for hand held image capturing. However, image stabilisers do not prevent motion blurring caused by the subject moving. More information on image stabilisers…
  • Lenses with fast lens speed
  • HDR photography
    • With the help of bracketing and digital post-processing of high contrasts in brightness, HDR photography enables you to capture images without over or underexposure. More information on HDR photography…
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