Candlelight photography is quite versatile. It allows you to use your imagination and creativity to unleash your true potential. I say this because candles can be used to light the subject without appearing in the shot or they can be the subject. You can also include candles in the shot to help the subject tell a story. See how much freedom you have? Despite all this room for creativity, candlelight photography is not as easy as it seems. You cannot simply whip out your camera and start shooting. It takes a little planning, experimentation, and creativity to bring out the warmth in a candlelit photo. Let us show you how.
Candlelight Photography – Tip #1
Kill The Lights
The whole point of candlelight photography is to capture the warm light created by the candles. To do this, it is important you eliminate all other sources of light. This includes your camera flash. The reasoning behind this is that candle light is usually a warm red or orange color which might be dimmed if other light sources are allowed in the shot. Remember, candle light is not as strong as natural light or your camera’s flash so let the candles be the source of light.
There is, however, one exception the rule pertaining your flashlight being off. Using color gels. Color gels dim the harsh light created by your flash and can be manipulated to fit the theme of your photo since they come in various colors. This will require some experimentation to find out what color enhances your candle light the most. You can easily buy a set from any shop selling cameras or camera accessories.
Candlelight Photography – Tip #2
Avoid Creating A Blur
There are some photos that look good with a little blur effect. Candlelight photographs are not one of them. To avoid causing blur in your photos, it goes without saying that you ought to be very still. So, after instructing your subject to stay still, ensure that you are using a slow shutter speed. This will enable you to capture as much light as possible (considering the lighting is quite low) and prevent blur.
Also, use a tripod to eliminate any camera shakes that may result in the image being blurry. If you own a remote shutter release use it to avoid rocking your camera as you press the shutter button.
Candlelight Photography – Tip #3
Play With The Light
As I said earlier, candlelight photos leave a lot of room for creativity. Take advantage of this. Think about the arrangement of your candles in relation to the theme of your photo. If you are using a single candle, consider whether you want your shot to be predominantly dark or lit. You can get a little creative and take a close up photo of the flame without the candle. The choice is entirely yours. The point is to be creative.
As much as we encourage creativity, do not go overboard. Candlelight photography need not be too exaggerated or you will create a distraction in the picture. If the subject is the candles, focus on them solely. If you can’t tone down your creativity, add a background that is in tandem with the subject. For example, you can add a wine glass to give a theme of a romantic dinner. Bottom line to consider whether any additional objects to your photo is destructive or not.
Candlelight Photography – Tip #4
Shadows and Reflections
You need to know where to position your candles in order to avoid casting shadows in your picture. If the candle is below the subject’s face, expect to cast a shadow which will give off a scary effect. Try setting the candle at the same height as the subject’s face to create a soft glow. Also, remember to place the candle closest to the camera to avoid forming silhouettes of the subjects.
I discovered that using a white table cloth when photographing with candles usually causes a reflection of the light. You can use this to make your photo brighter. Don’t limit yourself to a table cloth. Consider using a white background or even a reflective surface such as a mirror. It all boils down to being creative and playing with the light as stated earlier.
Candlelight Photography – Tip #4
Set Your Camera Right
This is the part where you need to pay most attention. For amazing candlelight photos, you should use a large aperture (low f-number) and if you have a DSLR camera, set it on aperture priority mode. This will allow light to be captured in the shot, which is ideal since the scene has low lighting.
Speaking of low lighting, bumping up your ISO is another thing that helps account for this situation. But then again, a high ISO might result in the shot having noise. So as you increase the ISO settings, try not to go beyond 400.
Since your candles are the main source of light, your camera will naturally want to underexpose the flame. this means that you will want to up your exposure a few notches. Again, do this with moderation to avoid creating a burnt out spot in your photo.
Finally, I’m going to talk really quick about your white balance. If it is on auto, you may ‘dilute’ the warm color created by the candle. You, therefore, want to experiment a little with the white balance to find a dim setting which does not affect the red\orange color created by the candle.
I have pretty much shared with you all the knowledge I have on candlelight photography. The main takeaway is to avoid messing with the natural, warm, red/orange color of the photo. This can be achieved by tweaking your camera settings as I have explained above.
That said, keep it simple but unique and most importantly, don’t forget to put out your candles after the shoot. The last thing you want to start is a fire. As usual, I would love to hear your comments and views on this so leave me a comment. If you have taken some candlelight photographs using these tips or otherwise, don’t be shy, let’s see them!
We Hope you’ll achieve great results with theese tips, if you want to learn more about lighting sensative topics, check out our tips for fireworks photography.
Your MyPostcard Team.