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FaithfulPastor Dec 14, 2008 7:18 PM

I think this is just about impossible, but maybe you guys have an answer.

I've been asked to shoot photos during a worship service at church.

Low lights (really almost no light) where the congregation sits. Low light.

I can't use a flash (per the powers that be) and people are moving. Everything I shot looks awful. Anything white is far too white (washed out) any thing colored is dark and anything that moved got blurry.

I'm shooting with a 2.8 all the way thru 70-200 lens on a EOS XSi.

I came close with a Timed exposure of 1/30 but it was still rotten.


VTphotog Dec 14, 2008 9:57 PM

Try increasing the ISO setting to as high as it will go. I once had to do a wedding shoot under similar conditions, with ISO 400 film and f/1.4 lens. I managed to squeeze out some useable shots while people were sitting still, and I had previously asked the clergyman and wedding party to go slow. Light was mostly thru the stained glass windows, and made for a romantic mood in the photos. (WB was awful, of course)

If you are able to work with the parties involved, you may be able to give them cues as to when you are taking a shot, so they will hold still.


granthagen Dec 14, 2008 10:13 PM

Not exactly the trials of Jobe, but a tough situation no doubt!

Obviously, you'd prefer there to be more light so that you can use a shutter speed fast enough to get acceptably sharp photos of, at least, slowly moving people.

This can be done, but the devil is in the details.


Unless you can actually bring more light into the shooting area, the only option you have is to do all that you can to maximize the camera's response to the light that's available.

By the sound of things, you can't lower your shutter speed any more, since you're already getting motion blur. The options left to you are to max-out your ISO and/or pick up a faster lens.

If your highest ISO setting introduces so much noise that it ruins the pictures, use the next lowest. You're not going to get really clean pictures under these conditions, so it's up to you to determine how much digital noise is too much. Noise can be addressed effectively by many noise-reduction programs -- some of which are free!

I think that Neat Image still offers a free version. I have this and it works quite well. Noise Ninja may still offer a free version, too.

You might be able to manage higher ISO's than you think if you run the pix through a noise reduction program. Of course, there's only so much that such programs can do before you start getting an artificial "plasticy" look, so you might want to look for a f/1.7 or f/1.4 prime lens. Used ones are fairly common and will save you quite a bit over a new lens. Because this would be a fixed focal length lens, you'd lose the convenience afforded by a zoom lens and you would have to be closer to the action than you've been used to. That extra stop or two of light plus a higher ISO and noise-reduction software might just get you where you want to go.

It's also a lot cheaper than getting something like a Nikon D700 which can shoot at a ridiculous 25,600 ISO!

There are lots of places online that sell used photo gear. B&H Photo, and (I think) are some of the most respected names, but don't discount local vendors, the want ads or even pawn shops. You might even be in a favorable position to solicit a "contribution" from the flock!


FaithfulPastor Dec 15, 2008 8:12 AM

Here's the best shot I had.

Thanks for the idea about pushing the ISO. I can get up to 1600. I had the ISO set on auto, thinking it would make the adjustment.

I'll try getting much closer and using a 50mm 1.8f lens at 1600 and see if that gets any better.

Any additional advice would be appreciated.

Faithfully yours,

JohnG Dec 15, 2008 8:38 AM

the exif information has been stripped from the photo. If you can provide the following info it would help:
  • ISO that shot was taken at[/*]
  • shooting mode that shot was taken with (auto, Program, AV, TV, M, etc)[/*]
  • Shutter speed for that shot[/*]
  • APerture for that shot[/*]
  • white balance setting for that shot[/*]
  • Exposure COmpensation value for that shot

FaithfulPastor Dec 15, 2008 2:57 PM

1. Hopefully, all the info you'd like to see is now attached to the file.

2. If I wanted to actually publish this (exif) information, I can't find a way using Photoshop Elements 7 to be able to copy and paste the information. It's like I can find it, I can read it, I just can't copy and paste it.

Any suggestions?

Hmmm.I'm evenmore confused now.... I have no idea why this photomust be downloaded rather that it appearing within the post. never had that happen before.

I must be an electronics jinx

JohnG Dec 15, 2008 3:07 PM

OK, that shot was ISO 200, f2.8 and 1/40.

So, if you were to set the iso to 800 you'd have 1/160 shutter speeds. Fairly usable if they're holding generally still. Bump it up to ISO 1600 and you've got 1/320 - plenty for what you're shooting. So no need to go to the 85mm.

That will correct the blur you're getting.

Exposure is a little trickier. It's a bit odd really - surprised at the dynamic range required - i.e. how dark the clothes are vs the face. That will make it very difficult to get perfect shots in-camera.So here's my advice: set your exposure so the faces look good when you review them on your LCD. Then in post processing you can use various techniques to edit the file - a shadow tool (VERY lightly) to bring out some detail in the clothes. OR a dodge tool (one of my favorite tools) - that way you can run it over the clothes rather quickly and don't bring out all the noise in the background (which you'll get when using the shadow tool).

Alan T Dec 15, 2008 3:18 PM

FaithfulPastor wrote:

...If I wanted to actually publish this (exif) information...I just can't copy and paste it...Any suggestions?...
The excellent freeware 'Exifer' (which I use almost daily, to try & remember what I did right or wrong on my latest shots) allows you to put all the EXIF data on the Windows clipboard instantly. Menu "EXIF/IPTC | Copy to clipboard". Especially useful is its facility to compare two files, showing you either the similarities, or differences in EXIF data.

It's nearly extinct, (not updated since 2002), but still downloadable & fully operational, I hope & believe. You might say that applies to most of us, one way or another.


FaithfulPastor Dec 15, 2008 3:18 PM

Got it.

BTW, why didn't the second photo show up within the post, rather than having to download it?

Alan T Dec 15, 2008 3:24 PM

FaithfulPastor wrote:

...BTW, why didn't the second photo show up within the post, rather than having to download it?
I think you need to "edit" the first post, and reload the revised image, ticking the box to delete the first one. You've given Steve's computer two images with the same name, but containing different data.

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