Exposure for difficult subjects to Meter.

Sometimes you run into situations in low light that you have a difficult time trying to get the right exposure for your subject.

Here are some settings you can use as a starting point to better your chances at getting the shot exposed correctly. Note that these exposures are based on the assumption your ISO is at 400. If your lens is not fast enough to use the suggested f-stop then use your widest aperture and adjust your shutter speed or ISO.

Also remember to bracket!

Subject Setting
Campfire 1/30 sec @ f/5.6

f/11 at various shutter speeds
ranging from 1/2 second to 4 seconds.
Or keep shutter open long enough to get several bursts
Floodlit building,
monuments, fountains
1/4 sec @ f/5.6

Lighted Christmas tree,
outdoors with snow
1/15 sec @ f/5.6

Lighted Christmas tree,
1/15 sec @ f/5.6


f/11, keeping shutter open until
you capture the strike
1/500 sec @ f/16
1/500 sec @ f/11
1/125 sec @ f/8
Eclipse of Moon
In penumbra
(edge of shadow area)
In umbra
(deep shadow area)
1/125 sec @ f/8

1 second at f/2.8

Moonlit Landscape
(moon not in picture)
60 sec @ f/4

Moonlit Snowscape 30 sec @ f/4
Moving Traffic
(light patterns at night)
10 seconds @ f/16

Skyline 10 minutes
after sunset
1/125 sec @ f/5.6

Skyline at night
with lit windows
1 sec @ f/4

Spotlighted Performances 1/125 sec @ f/5.6
Street scenes,
brightly lit
1/60 sec @ f/4

Thanks for reading

Action-Stopping Shutter Speeds

Here are some shutter speeds that will give you good starting points for stopping or freezing motion.

The speeds listed assume your subject almost fills the whole frame and is moving horizontally. If the subject you are trying to capture is moving in a diagonal motion or only fills about half or less of the frame then you can cut the speeds by about half.

Subject Est. Mph Shutter Speed
Person Swimming 2 1/250
Person Walking (Slow) 2 1/250
Person Walking (Fast) 3-4 1/500
Person Running 8-12 1/1000
Horse Trotting 9 1/1000
Person Skating 12-25 1/2000
Person Riding Bike 15 1/2000
Horse Galloping 20 1/2000
Train (Slow) 25 1/4000
Person Bike Racing 30 1/4000
Car 60 1/8000
Train (Fast) 60 1/8000
Motorcycle Racer 125 1/8000
Plane Take Off/Landing 125 1/8000

Thank for reading