Image Control Photography are wedding photographers based in Essex and thus by design, we do a lot of photography in churches and wedding venues. While we are carrying out assignments, we are constantly asked, “Why can’t I get a good photograph in dark areas like churches or wedding venues”. The question goes something like this ” I bought this camera and it has 10 million pixels. Why can’t I then get a good picture in dark places like a church”.
The reason is that the small digital automatic camera’s have very limited adjustments on them and while these are very good at what they do, they don’t have the range of control needed to record scenes in dark places.
Some religions will allow flash photography. Christian weddings are unlikely to and some churches will not even allow photography with No Flash. If you are allowed to take non-flash photographs, you will need to be able to have the following adjustments on your camera.
This is where you can increase the sensitivity of the sensor in your camera. Thus in a dark room you will need to increase the sensitivity. Try a 1000 ISO as a starting point.
Light has a temperature. On your camera set to an indoor setting, a photograph taken inside a room will have an orange tone to it if the camera is set to outdoors. It you have a choice of light on your camera choose “Incandescent”.
If you are able to set these adjustment, you have a good chance of recording a pleasing photograph. However you will probably have a slow shutter speed, which means that you will need to lean on something stable to minimise camera shake.
A few of things to remember.
If you are shooting at a slow shutter speed, anyone that moves will be blurred.
If you are shooting in a dark place, your aperture will probably be quite large, therefore your depth-in-field will be quite shallow.
Using a tripod in a church is generally frowned upon (especially if the vicar trips over it)
If your camera can shoot in RAW, it is most certainly worthwhile to do so.
The major disadvantage of using a simple fixed lens “Point and shoot” camera, is the limitations of the lens. At the cheaper end the lens is made of plastic, it’s a very wide-angle lens and is very restrictive. But by the very nature of it’s size, the amount of light entering the camera is low reducing the capability of the camera and increasing the need to make the above adjustments.
The camera is a very simple device. It’s a box with a hole in one side to which the light comes through, this falls onto a sensor, which captures an image on a light sensor. That’s it in its simplest form. There are the adjustments that controls shutter speed and aperture that allows the light in, but basically, that’s it. The real quality of the camera depends on the lens and therefore with a good lens it will give you choices and flexibility.
As a professional photographer, I use a top quality camera and lens as it gives the capability of photographing a black cat in a coal shed, if the situation demands it, hence the flexibility of camera and lens.