Photographing subjects in the dark and from a distance

edited April 2012 Posted in » Canon T3i Forum
Hi @Moose - This is a wonderful website and I really appreciate your effort in providing tips across different platforms. :) I'm new to the world of SLR's and have the Canon Rebel T3i with a basic EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS kit lens. I have two questions...

1) How do I shoot pictures in the dark using my T3i? I tried different modes, but either the pics are blurry or the camera does not click.

2) How do you focus on people close to the camera and a far off object? In my case I could not take good pictures when I went to see the Hollywood sign from Griffiths observatory. :( I want to take good pics next time.

Thanks, KS


  • edited April 2012
    Hi @hsks - Do you really mean in the "dark" without flash? For low light shots using your current lens, you will need to set your mode dial to AV, the aperture to F3.5 and your lens to 18mm. Set your Auto ISO to the highest level. Mount your camera on a tripod (switch off IS) and set your self-timer to 2 seconds. With luck you might get something albeit very noisy (grainy).

    To answer your second question...Canon has a mode on the dial marked A-DEP. This mode attempts to make sure that everything from near to far is in focus. When you are more confident with your camera you can try setting aperture to give the required DOF (depth of field). I am sure Moose will come back with more (and probably better tips). Best regards, PBked
  • Howdy @hsks - I appreciate the kind words and welcome to the T3i forum. Let's dive right in...

    1) The T3i will disable autofocus when focus can't be achieved. In situations where it's extremely dark, you'll actually need to turn off autofocus in order to capture a shot. You can do this by switching the AF/MF switch on your lens to MF. To prevent blur, you'll need to mount your T3i to a tripod. If you're trying to compose moving subjects (portraits, kids, groups, etc...) in extremely dark situations, you'll need the assistance of flash.

    2) In order to get everything in focus, I would enable Aperture priority (Av) and set your aperture f-number between f/8 to f/16 depending on how far away the Hollywood sign is from where you're shooting from. Higher f-numbers lengthen the depth of field, putting more of the scene into focus.

    Hope all of that makes sense and happy shooting! :)
  • edited November 2015
    My son is about to turn one and I want to get some pictures of him in a swing. What setting do I use so I don't get blur?
  • edited November 2015
    Hi @MARCIAP,
    Use Tv (shutter priority) and choose anything around 1000. In bright light, set ISO 100 for best quality. Also try to capture a shot at the end of travel of the swing rather than during the swing. I usually aim for the back for a shot which includes part of the swing and then the front when the child is nearer the camera. These make for pleasing shots and often the child will be looking at you. You will notice that during the swing many children will tend to look down.
    Hope this helps.
  • edited July 2016
    Hello @moose,
    I'm taking maternity pictures at the beach with my Canon Rebel T3i with a EF 16-35mm 1:2.8 and 85mm, but my photos are coming out dark and they look orange (evening shots). How do I fix this?

    Thank you.
  • Hey @vonna - You mentioned some of the shots are at night, how are the photos being lit? Are you using an external flash or just ambient light? It would be best to schedule the shoot just before sunset to get, nice even, warm light.
  • edited July 2016
    I'm taking the portrait photos around 5:30 at sunset. The photos are coming out dark and orange (the two people I'm taking pictures of). I'm having trouble fixing this. Thank you for responding!
  • edited November 2016
    Challenge: photographing inside a dark cave, with mostly flat walls, at max of 15 feet distance, with distance variation max of 4-5 feet. Goal: getting colors, nice range of tones from white to black, textures crystal clear vivid sharp, but not getting washout glare from white areas due to bright flash (even behind a light umbrella). Ideas: tripod, lock mirror, manual mode, LED video light set low and behind a light umbrella, 30 second exposure time, ISO 100, f stop set to get a 0 value on the exposure scale but low enough to get perfect focus on every place in the frame. Thoughts?
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