Introduction: Candle Light Photography

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I'm a big believer in getting the most out of the photography gear you have. You don't need a fancy lighting setup to get awesome pictures of the things around you. Candle light is a simple light source that can provide a rather interesting touch to any subject whether small or large. 

Large subject like people receive an orange cast or glow that softens the features, especially facial features. Since blemishes are mostly composed of red and orange tones, they blend in with the rest of the face really well under candle light - maybe that's why candle light dinners are supposed to be romantic? It makes everyone look good. 

For smaller subjects, candle light can cast a nice soft, dim light that highlights anything red to yellow and darkens anything green to purple, resulting in a selectively bright image. Follow these steps and give it a try!

Step 1: Eliminate Ambient Light

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Candle light is delicate and can be washed over easily so make sure other lights in the room are turned off, or that you're out of their range. I chose a dark coffee shop in the corner to take this picture when I saw the unique candle holders they had at each table. 

Step 2: Use Frosted Glass As a Diffuser

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A frosted glass candle holder works perfectly as a diffuser. This will produce nice, soft light and minimal glare on the subject you're trying to shoot. The bigger the light source, the softer the light and the more attractive your subject will appear. 

Step 3: Get the Candle Close

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Be careful not to burn anything, but get the candle as close as possible as this both increases the available light for the shot and softens the light even more. The closer a light source is to the subject, the softer the light will be, resulting in softer shadows and a more attractive appearance overall. 

Step 4: Use a Tripod + HUGE Aperture

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Use a tripod to steady the camera because your shutter speeds will be excruciatingly slow. Also, make sure the subject knows to stay still if it's a person. I did not use a tripod in this picture, but I cranked up my ISO to a ridiculous 25,600 and reduced the noise afterwards. 

This is a low-light situation, so open your aperture as wide as you can. If you're using a prime lens, even better - most prime lenses around f/1.8 allow up to four times as much light through as a typical zoom lens. 

And there you have it - you should be able to produce soft, orange-y images with a nice glow and warm tones - and all it took was a candle!

Learn more cool techniques at my website, www.picturelikethis.com if you liked this one!

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Bio: I'm a photographer in Austin, TX and I run a website that helps people get the most out of the photography equipment they have ... More »
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