Should you push film in low light?
There are a few reasons why you may want to push film in low light. This could include finding yourself in a dark environment with an unexpected lack of light which would necessitate a higher ISO to allow more light onto your film, or aesthetic preferences such as contrast and grain.
When shooting in low light, one thing to consider is whether the film stock available to you will be able to handle how dark your environment is. For example, there’s a higher likelihood for underexposure with an ISO 200 or 400 film stock in a dark or overcast environment, while an ISO 800 or upwards film roll will be able to handle the lack of light a little better.
In this case, you may consider pushing your ISO 200 or 400 film stock by one or two stops to compensate for the limited light source.
Aesthetic preference is also one of the possible considerations for pushing film in low light. Pushing film increases grain and contrast which often results in a lo-fi appearance and a dramatic mood in photos which many photographers go for.
Pushing or pulling the film involves shooting a film stock higher or lower than the ISO it’s initially intended to be shot at, e.g. box speed, in order to let more or less light onto your film. To push the film, you can shoot at a higher ISO, for example shooting an ISO 400 film stock at ISO 800.
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There are a few settings you can tinker with to take photos effectively even in low light conditions. These include opening up your aperture or using a longer shutter speed in order to allow more light when taking a photo. You can also use a flash to take clearer photos of your subjects in low light.
There are a few tricks you can use to get a better shot without a tripod to work with, these include maximizing the available light source around you, picking a higher ISO film stock or pushing the film, as well as using a flash and faster lenses.
There are a few difficulties you can face when shooting in low-light conditions such as indoors, places with a lot of shade, underwater, or at night time. The main difficulty is potential underexposure resulting in dark images with barely visible subjects. The outcome could also be grainier than photos taken in daylight.
When shooting in low light conditions such as indoors or at night time, it’s best to choose a film stock with a high ISO such as ISO 400, 800 or 1600.