Photography geeks needed!

One simple question: Is it possible at all to shoot good photographs in a place with little light (like a cathedral) without a tripod?

a. with a DSLR
b. with another camera

As I often take pictures of architecture during my travels, I’m getting increasingly desperate because I almost never get good shots from the inside of a cathedral. Most of the times tripods are forbidden there anyway.
I just have a normal standard camera at the moment, and I am thinking of buying a DSLR, but I am not sure if this will solve all the problems I have while shooting.


25 thoughts on “Photography geeks needed!

  1. It is definitely possible to get photos in situations like that. A DSLR can help, with the extent depending a bit on the quality of the camera and on how well you’ve learned to use it. To shoot in low light, you can take a few steps (which will need to be balanced with each other accordingly). 1) You can widen the aperture to let in more light, but this usually isn’t enough in really low light situations. 2) You can slow the shutter speed, but that’s when you’d need a tripod unless you have magically steady hands. Of course, you can also be sneaky and find something to balance the camera on if tripods aren’t allowed! 3) And then, you can increase the ISO. This technology is getting better pretty rapidly, and can really make a big difference in low light situations! However, the more you increase the ISO, the grainier the photo will get. This is usually not too noticeable unless you’ve really increased the ISO a lot. Some photo editing can help reduce the graininess too.

    Overall, once you’ve gotten the hang of it, having a DSLR can be a big help, and not just in low light situations! You’ll gain much more control over all of your photos. A DSLR probably won’t solve all of your problems and upgrades can be costly. But, I think if you spend a bit of time learning how to use one, the quality and artistry of your photos could really improve since if you shoot in manual, you’re forced to consider just what you want out of the photo. I’m not a photo pro by any means, but I know my photos have markedly improved in the years since I invested in a DSLR.


    • Thank you so much for your elaborate answer! I am not a photo pro either, and I’m always looking for easy solutions.
      What ISO would you recommend in a situation like in a cathedral? I don’t want the photos to be too grainy either.


      • I can’t recommend a specific ISO level because that would depend on the exact lighting situation and the other settings on the camera at the moment. But I think most decent DSLRs would be able to handle this situation just fine without any excessive graininess, or much at all, really.


  2. As wentlookings said, it depends on the lighting conditions at the time you are there to take the photo, but I usually can go up to ISO 3200 without noticing much noise (grain) in my photos. I have also shot a lot at ISO 6400 and with some post processing managed to eliminate the noise after. Most DSLR go up to ISO 6400 and some go beyond that, the limit is really your budget.


    • Thanks for your reply, I see I have a lot to learn. At the moment I have only a standard digital camera, not a DSLR, and the highest ISO to go there is 3200. I will try this next time when I’m in Cologne Cathedral.
      I am not sure about buying a DSLR though, because I don’t want to carry too much weight while strolling around. Are there any light DSLRs?


      • Each make and model does have a different weight and feel to them, that’s why it’s always a good idea to actually be able to hold them in your hands before making a choice. I find my Canon 600D just right, and don’t mind taking it with me wherever I go. Find a local camera shop that will let you handle some of the DSLR models so you can see if they would be too heavy for your liking.


  3. I took a bunch of photos in Notre Dame last year when I was fairly new to using a DSLR. Rather than mess around with manual controls I wasn’t too familiar with I just used the Auto settings and got pictures of decent quality which I could then improve in Lightroom. See some of these here:


    • What do you mean with Lightroom, is this a photo-editing site or do you develop your photos yourself?
      And: That’s the problem, if I bought a DSLR, I don’t know if I made use of all of its functions. I don’t want to think half an hour before taking a photo. So I would probably stick to the Auto setting.


      • Yeah, Lightroom is editing software and pretty versatile so you can salvage quite a lot if the pics aren’t too great. If you’re new to a DSLR then auto settings take the pain out of an awkward shoot such as low light.


  4. Rather than using a tripod, have you considered a monopod

    For the most part it looks like a walking stick. Whip it out for your camera, get the shot, move on. None of the faffing on associated with tripod usage that venues seem to worry about.

    Another technique I sometimes use is to change my stance. Turn so your body is facing 45 degrees away from the subject. Put your left elbow into the side of your body as tightly as you can. Use your thumb and index finger to hold the lens of the camera and let the camera body rest on the heel of your hand. That gives you a fairly stable platform to shoot from as well.


    • Thanks for the stance tip. It’s a good idea and I will try this out next time in Cologne Cathedral (my favorite cathedral). I will think about the monopod idea, but I think I like it easy and I probably won’t drag along any stick. That’s why I am looking for solutions without it.


  5. I have worked with a number of professional photographers and have learnt that in low light situations nothing beats a good camera with a tripod, and a person who really knows how to use that particular camera. Knowing how to use your camera in all situations seems to be the key factor that most of pros emphasized, and many of them held on to their cameras for a long time rather than get a newer model. So time spent getting to know your camera inside out is critical.

    However, I only carry a little point and shoot, and in low light situations drop the exposure to -2, and while the results are not that bad, they,re not as good as a better camera.
    If you are thinking of buying a new camera, take your current camera to a camera store, take some photos in dark corners of the store, and then try out YOUR card in a variety of other cameras, taking photos of the same dark corners.

    This way you can see how easy it is find your way around the camera (some cameras have easier access to the controls you want and just seem more intuitive). You can then take the card home and view the photos on your computer. seeing the photos large is really informative!


  6. With a Canon EOS Rebel T4i, for example, I have good results in low light with 800, even 1600 ISO, with minimal grain. But you need to keep in mind it’s as much a matter of investment in a high end lens than in a DSLR. And they are the more significant cost.
    But here’s a trick I’ve had decent luck with, even using my iPhone in low light when finding I unexpectedly need to take a spot news shot: lean up against a wall with a flat edge of your camera against the wall for stability, hold your breath and shoot. In a cathedral, try using a pew or a pillar.
    Happy shooting.


  7. Yes. A good photographer should be able to do it. But, there are some things to know first!
    Like kind of photographic equipment, because a good photograph needs to be planned in advance, taking care of different variables that when put together, make the difference between a great photo, a medium photo or a poor one.
    Let Us begin:
    Tripod, isn’t a must. You can manage, use your imagination! EvenThough if the exposure is long enough the camera shouldn’t move at all. If so, it won’t come as you want. Better with tripod and a cable directly to the shooter. If not you may use slaves connected to your flash when it pops out., or flash., or different measures.
    If that. The case, measure light. This is a must. If you don’t measure light in deferent places inside the church the picture won’t come along fine. Write the differences, use a pen + paper.
    Finally, depending on what you want, will choose the timing, of exposure, in order to achieve the kind of photo you want.
    ISO/ I never use a high ISO, because grain results, but as higher the ISO, lowers the timing of exposure.
    Aperture: again, depending on your expectations, if you use a high aperture big aperture like: f/1.2, f/1.4, or f/1.8, f/ 2.4, your focal distance will be shorter. This means that focus will only be as short as what is in the center of focus. The rest will be blurred.
    The opposite will be a closed aperture for example f/ 22 will set most of the picture in focus. Again ask yourself what you want?

    So: first. Set the aperture, secondly the Shooting time, depending On the ISO you choose. If you measure to low light, you should need to empower the exposure, using : a higher ISO, or an open aperture, and think that normally if you chose one aperture the relation with time of shooting is doubled, tripled.
    The light conditions, measured should be taken seriously. At least give 30% more of what is the media light measurement. I will definitely use ISO 100, if not the photo will be exploited by grain.

    You know, what??
    You need some Clases first! And buy if you can a DSLR camera, because you will enjoy!!

    Racketeer is a must in these conditions for you. Under exposure, right exposure, and sobre exposure. After, you will use one of them, or the three.

    Have fun! Hope you may understand!!


We are looking forward to your comments and suggestions!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s