By now, you’ve probably heard about the Clue themed party that the Alt ladies threw last Thursday night. It was, as you’d imagine, pretty fabulous. I’ve never been in such a huge group of such well dressed people and was tickled when a few perfectly coiffed, tucked, and accessorized ladies approached me with compliments. But what really made my evening wasn’t the fashion or even the adorable miniature food items (although those were pretty great); it was meeting the amazingly talented photographer, Justin Hackworth.
Everyone loves Justin — see?
(That’s Justin with keynote speaker Stefan Sagmeister. Stefan likes giving kisses.)
If you’re not already a Justin Hackworth fan, you might want to sit down before looking through any of his photos because they’re sure to make you swoon. Each of Justin’s photographs is a piece of art, with moments so thoughtfully captured that you could spend tons of time looking at each one, noticing something new whenever you come back to it. It’s no wonder that those tasteful women of Alt chose him to be their official photographer.
So when I saw Justin standing by the dessert table at the Clue party, I waited for him to put his camera down for a moment, gathered up my courage, and went over to geek out over his amazingness.
Let me say this about people at Alt Summit: almost everyone is incredibly gracious and friendly. Mr. Hackworth was no exception–when I asked him how he felt about being the most famous photographer in the lifestyle blogging world, he humbly exclaimed, “Well, I wish that were true. That’s my dream!”
Since I’ve been having trouble taking photographs because my home doesn’t get great light and, on top of that, winters in New England aren’t always the sunniest, I asked Justin for some advice. He took the time to give me a few excellent pointers, and even came back later to give me an extra idea. Justin has generously given me permission to share this impromptu lesson with all of you:
Tips for Photographing in Low Light
- You can get away with not using flash more often than you’d think. This whole conversation began because I asked Justin if he had advice on what kind of flash to buy to make my photos look naturally lit in low light. To my relief, he suggested trying these tips before relying on flash.
- Use the AV setting. This setting is somewhere between automatic and manual, which gives you control over the images without needing to know too much about focusing perfectly.
- Turn up your ISO setting. The ISO controls the sensitivity of the image sensor to light. By cranking this setting up, you quicken the speed, thereby getting more light into the sensor. For dimly lit settings, use a range between 800 and 1600.
- The type of camera you have has a strong impact in low light photography. I told Justin that I was experiencing graininess when I increased my ISO to 1600, and he explained that it’s likely because of the camera I’m using. While I love my Canon Rebel XT, I’ve always known that it’s my starter camera. So now I’m really drooling over the next level models.
- In environments like the Clue party, where some of the areas were very bright and others were very dim, it’s helpful to adjust your exposure compensation. At the long banquet tables, bright lights were shining directly down at the center of the table, while the actual seats were in the shadows. By adjusting the exposure compensation to the positive numbers, Justin was able to brighten the partygoers’ faces, which would otherwise be too dark to make out. This setting also applies to the inverse — in areas with too much brightness, you can dial the exposure compensation down to keep the image from looking blown out.
A big, huge thank you to Justin for his great kindness and generosity in giving me this on-the-fly tutorial and, now, for allowing me to proselytize with it. Now get ready to drool over a few of my favorite of Mr. Hackworth’s creations.
Want to see more of Justin’s work? Go hang out at his website for awhile, and while you’re there check out his blog.
Do you live near Salt Lake? Mr. Hackworth offers mentoring sessions, which you should totally take advantage of, you lucky duck.
All photos in this post belong to Justin Hackworth, super photographer.