|Art Model, Covenant ©2014 Terrell Neasley Lit by small outdoor lamp and laptop computer. Handheld high ISO|
Ambient light or constant light is light that's not turning off. It just stays on. It doesn't have to be daylight from the sun. It can be the light on in your house or the light that comes on to illuminate your licence plate when it gets dark. By definition, ambient light is simply the light in your immediate surroundings whether it be artificial or natural. If you are in a dark room lit by a candle, that flicker on the wicker is your ambient light. And that's the cool stuff that I'll be discussing in this post. The natural light photogs can get a little something out of this. Anyone can take a photo in the daylight when all the settings are done in Full Auto or "P"-mode. Just let the camera do all the work and you're good to go. So in bringing back that passion, try this: work with ambient light in the darker settings and use any available light that you can come up with. I've used light from a cell phone held close to a model's face. I've used the moon on a 8 second exposure. Or better yet, work with a Neutral Density filter (which I'll be talking about in another upcoming blog post in more detail).
You can definitely pick up a used tripod system somewhere. There are super easy to test out and confirm it's serviceability prior to you trusting it with your camera out in the field. If you can get a good one for cheap, go for it. I like mine new and simply won't go for a used support system. That's just me. Every manufacturer will make tripods of various qualities, sizes, max weights, and different price points. Carbon fiber will usually run you double what an aluminum will cost. I like carbon fiber a lot. Find what suits you best in the budget you choose.
Next all you need is a still subject and the proficiency to shoot them giving the lighting challenges and the uniqueness or limitations of your camera. If you have a Sony A7s (stay tuned), then you don't really have any camera limitations. If you're working with a camera with ISO deficiencies, then yes, you'll have to work within that. But generally speaking, you'll be on a tripod so ISO 100 will usually be the best bet. I say generally, because if you're doing astro work, then max ISO is where you'll be. In either case doing a portrait in single-sourced low light can be both fun and challenging, but its sure to pay off with some good work.