It is so dark in here!
Shooting in low light can be a challenge, trying to focus when you can barely see your subject is sometimes an exercise in frustration and even when you think there is plenty of light to see, your camera is sitting there stubbornly refusing to provide decent images, quietly disagreeing with your assessment of the visible light like a passive-aggressive uncooperative relative. The problem is simple and yet complex. The simplicity is this, your eyes are amazing—not as amazing as many animal eyes— but significantly better at resolving information in low light situations than your camera. What you can see clearly, your camera requires extra assistance to render as well. Human eyes have an amazing dynamic range and cameras are much more limited. The complexity lies in how to make a low-light situation give you the awesomeness you really need in your work.
Wedding receptions are often dark and yet filled with multi-coloured lights designed to fit the wedding theme. Although gorgeous, this lighting can often be disastrous for skin tones. Your human eyes and brain will automatically make adjustments and although the room is awash in pink light (*photo 1* ) your brain will still see skin as skin coloured, your camera on the other hand will see everyone as uniformly resembling Sponge Bob's friend Patrick Star. To counter this you are going to need a light, yes I said it, you are going to need a white light. Whether you choose to use a strobe or another form of illumination make sure that it is not directly on camera (*Photo 3*) as this can lead to some really ugly lighting. You can bounce it off the roof if it is nice and white or you can have it hit your subject at a right angle creating gorgeous side light (*photo 4*). Don't forget to expose for the background so you get a sense of the ambient light in the room.
1. Don't be afraid to crank up your iso, modern cameras can handle ISO 1600 with very little grain and many can go even higher with very good results. (*Photo 2* shows how sharp high iso numbers can be)
2. Make sure you have good glass and open up that aperture. Make those small f-numbers your friend.