How I Get Bright Photos In Low Light Without Flash or Artificial Lights

I feel the need to preface this post by saying I am not a professional photographer. I am simply sharing how I get bright images in low light without flash or artificial lights in hopes that you can either:

1. Use this information as a starting point to create your own image style, or

2. Incorporate a couple of my tips into what you’re already doing to up your game. 

Create Bright Images In Low Light Without Flash or Artificial Lights

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We don’t have many overcast days in Arizona, but I’ve encountered no shortage of home décor accounts on Instagram wishing the sun would come out so they can take brighter photos. Well friends, if you’re shooting with a DSLR camera then I’m about to put your worries to rest.

During a gloomy November last year I got plenty of practice in taking bright images in low light, but I can’t say I figured it out all on my own. My friend Chell over at Cambridge Home Company introduced me to the Shutter Priority setting and it has been my BFF (as far as camera settings are concerned) ever since. I even use it on sunny days and decrease my ISO while increasing my shutter speed.

How To Create Bright Images In Low Light Without Flash or Artificial Lights

Through the view finder you can see how dim the lighting is in the area that I’m photographing. This part of our master bathroom (see the remodel here) doesn’t get much natural light, even during full sun, so it’s actually easier to photograph when the sun is setting or on an overcast day to avoid shadows that require a little extra photo editing.

One thing is for certain – you will need a tripod because we will be slowing the shutter speed WAY down to capture more light. Click here for a link to the tripod I’ve used for years.

The DSLR I use is the Nikon D5200 so you may need to tweak the settings slightly if you have a different camera to achieve your brightness preference, but this will give you a solid foundation to begin.

How To Create Bright Images In Low Light Without Flash or Artificial Lights

Here is the photo straight from the camera using my tripod and the following settings: 

  • ISO – 800
  • f/3.5
  • Shutter Speed – 5

With these settings, the shutter stayed open for 5 seconds which is why a tripod is critical when we're decreasing the shutter speed. No matter how still you think you are, you won’t be still enough when the shutter is open that long because the lens catches the slightest of movements.

I probably still could’ve went with a longer shutter speed for this photo, but this was pretty darn close to accurate and nothing I couldn’t brighten up a bit in Lightroom. 

How To Create Bright Images In Low Light Without Flash or Artificial Lights

Here is the final photo brightened up and sharpened in Lightroom. Not bad for how low the lighting was originally! Even using the tripod I get a tiny bit of motion blur from letting go of the shutter-release button, so if you truly want to achieve no shake then it would be wise to use the timer and a remote.

Say – would you guys be interested in a post about the Lightroom settings I use most often for quick editing?? Let me know in the comments below!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips on how to get bright photos in low light without using flash or artificial lights. Once you play with the settings just a bit you’ll have it down in no time flat!


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P I N  T H I S  I M A G E

How to capture great low light photos PINTEREST


I would love some tips about Lightroom!

Awesome - will do!

Would love to know what Lightroom settings you use most often!!!

You've got it! xo

Great post! I would love more info on Lightroom setting!

Thanks, Jen! Will do! xo

Love! Yes, tips on Lightroom would be awesome!

You've got it!! ;) xox

I'd be interested in all your lightroom presets or settings. I'm pretty familiar with lightroom and I want to take more home decor (table settings especially) images. I have a really good tripod and decent camera (Canon Rebel T6i) but I'd like a good lens for table settings or images like the one in this post. What lens do you suggest? Also, do you use a remote for the camera rather than pressing the button while in such a low shutter speed?

Hey Mindy! Here's the link to the post with my go-to Lightroom settings - I use a Nikon D5200 and the lens I shoot with the most is actually the one that came with it - 18-55mm. I have a couple others that are great for portraits and vignettes but I don't use them as much with my home decor shots. I'm too cheap to invest in a really great lens (as much as I would love to). When I'm in low shutter speed I usually press the button on the camera since I have it on my tripod, but have also used the remote in some instances. Hope that helps!