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Efrain Padro here again, writing to you from Seville, Spain on the fourth day of our photo expedition.  Pictures are below. We are exploring and photographing the nave, chambers, and side chapels of the Seville Cathedral, the largest Gothic church in the world today. The exquisite but dimly-lit interiors beg us to use a tripod. Unfortunately, tripods are not allowed inside. So Houston, we have a problem. As enthusiastic as we all are about composing a beautiful picture, capturing the essence of a place, and our photographic vision, difficult situations often reduce our photo-taking exercises to their most basic level: problem-solving. Here are some tips for photographing in low-light situations without a tripod (followed by some of my tripod-free photos from the cathedral):

  1. Steady as she goes: A steady camera will yield a steady image, simple as that. In low light conditions, your shutter speed will be slow, so steady yourself against a column; set your camera on a nearby bench, rock, pew, or the ground. You could also engage your camera’s timer so it takes the picture in 10 seconds (this will prevent camera shake caused by your pressing the shutter).
  2. Set a high ISO (at least 1600): Although this will cause the dark portions of the picture to look grainy, it will also make your shutter speed faster, increasing your chances of getting a sharp image.
  3. Engage your shake reduction feature: Many cameras today, including point-and-shoots, will include some sort of shake-reduction feature. If yours has it, turn it on. This will help prevent blurry images.

The three sample pictures here depict a set of columns and arches in the Seville Cathedral. All the images were shot at f/4, my lens’ widest possible aperture. The first image was shot at ISO 100, resulting in a shutter speed of a half-second; too slow to handhold. For the second image I changed my ISO to 800, resulting in a shutter speed of 1/15th of a second; much less blur but I could do better. The third image was shot at ISO 1600 and a shutter speed of 1/30th of a second, enough to render a sharp image…

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