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How to Shoot in a Dim Light Setting

Sorry it’s been a while since I last posted. I’ve been very busy with other projects. But I’m back now and excited to get going again on this adventure. As always let me know how I can further and better serve you! Now on to the main post.


How to shoot in a dim light setting? Most likely when you’re shooting at your church setting the lights are dim in the auditorium or sanctuary. This obviously is for atmospheric and mood lighting. Usually the only lights on are on the stage. As the photographer in your church how do you accommodate for this hard to shoot in lighting setting? There are a couple of variables that will determine that.

  • Are you shooting for your churches print material such as a magazine or for advertisement cards?
  • Are you shooting for the web advertisement?

If you are shooting for print then it’s necessary to shoot at an ISO under 3200 and preferably at or under 1600. Why is that? The reasoning here is because images that are shot at or above 1600 can be grainy or noisy when printed. What is grain or noise?

Noise acording to Adorama.com:

In digital photographs, “noise” is the commonly-used term to describe visual distortion. It looks similar to grain found in film photographs, but can also look like splotches of discoloration when it’s really bad, and can ruin a photograph. Noise tends get worse when you’re shooting in low light.

From a technical point of view, noise is the visual manifestation of a lower signal-to-noise ratio, which is measured in decibels. While the amount of noise that you may consider acceptable may be different from what the next guy might accept, but most professional photographers want to see photos with at least a 30dB signal-to-noise ratio.

Images look like they are made of grain or sand is the short answer. Everyone has seen it at some point and its a photographers worst nightmare. Once you have grain there is no saving it in post production. Many things can be rescued in post, but grain is not one of them. Now that being said, if the image being printed is going to be super small, like a few inches on a page then you can probably get away with a 1600-3200 ISO setting. For example something smaller than a 4×6 image should be safe. A 2×2 head shot will probably be just fine. Why is this? The pixels are compressed, creating a sharper image.

If you are shooting for a web advertisement then you can most definitely get away with shooting 1600-3200 ISO. Web uses less pixels than print. That’s why it’s safer to shoot 3200 for web. Print materials will use a higher resolution image, whereas a web image is not as high a resolution. The image is already being scaled down and reduced, making it grainier anyways.

Moving onward there are some other rules to consider. The shutter speed is important to consider. The faster the shutter speed the less blurry the image. This is a great rule and knowledge for sports but sports are generally outdoors.  For shooting the band or pastor you won’t need to have too high a shutter speed. Most activity on stage will be minimal. A more aggressive band will have higher speed activity and energy so you may want to consider moving your shutter speed up. But again be careful the higher the shutter speed the darker the image. Not a good thing in a dimly lit setting. A general rule could be this: set your shutter speed at the same ratio as your focal length. For example if your lens is set at 50mm then set your shutter speed at 1/50 a sec. However there are variables to that rule. If you have a lens set at 10mm, I’m sure you won’t want to have a shutter speed at 1/10 a second. That is really slow and your going to get a shaky blurry image since most likely your shooting hand held at church. Also remember that your going to have to shoot your aperture at the lowest setting since it’s dim lighting. For example a setting of f3.5 is much wider and thusly your image is going to be brighter than a setting of f8.0. For shooting in dim light settings you’ll need to set it on the lowest possible setting. If you have a lens that will shoot at f2.8 or lower that will be the best! But remember the lower the aperture setting the shallower the depth of field. Meaning that you may only have two members of the band in focus. The back three members of the band will surly be out of focus. Maybe that’s ok and you can deal with that. I’m just saying that it’s a good possibility.

Photography is give and take: More ISO and the more grain. The more aperture the darker the image or vise versa you’ll have a shallower image with less in focus. You need to decide what’s important and what’s necessary. But my hope is that this article will give you some guidance and thinking points when when shooting in low light settings. Let me know if this is helpful to you. Thanks!



Where to Find Free Church Websites


What happens if you get to the point in your church plant or relaunch and you know you need to build a church website but you really don’t have the funds for it? There are affordable ecommerce web design packages out there! Please see my other article on this site and my Hub page. What’s better than affordable? How about free?! Are there free church websites out there? The good news is that there are and I am going to give you a review of who does what and how much for free. The ones that I’ve looked at will build the site for free as long as you’re a church or do some kind of ministry. You just have to pay for the domain and any fees. Read along to know what you can get for free!

The top site to take a glance at is 2mites. This will be a wonderful place to build your church website for free. Here is what he claims:

Is it really free? Yes, the only costs to you are the unavoidable fees. These are registering the domain name and purchasing the hosting for the account. The design and implementation don’t cost anything.

Well then, how much is the hosting and the domain registration?

The hosting is $6 a month (paid in a 2 or 3 year block).

The domain registration is $10 a year (paid in a 1 to 5 year block).

So what about the parts of our site that need updating?

If your site has information that needs updated on a regular basis, such as a calendar or downloadable sermons, we can help with that as well. The monthly fee to keep the site updated is $50.

How do we get started?

All you have to do is contact me and let me know you want a site. From there we will start building your site to your specifications.

How do you do it?

First and foremost it is important to mention that we do not use any templates or frameworks. We build your site from scratch, to your exact specifications.

Also check out Free Church Websites. They claim mostly the same things, that the fees are all you have to pay for. The design work and the development don’t cost anything. Here is what they claim on their site:

Yes, the only costs to you are the unavoidable fees. These are registering the domain name (about $12 per year) and purchasing the website hosting ($20 per month through FreeChurchWebsites.com). The design and development don’t cost anything.

Finally Check out Share Faith. They don’t design anything custom for you instead you can brows their templets and then you can build your site from there. They claim:

You have an all in one outreach tool in the palm of your hand.

• Includes 58,000 Religious graphics/media library.

• World-Class Support: Live-chat, phone or email.

• Drag-and-drop easy and instant updating.

• Unlimited pages, customization, designs and templates.

• One-of-a-kind Sidekick Web-editor. No coding!

• Updated seasonal web graphics for relevant outreach.

• Comes with a blog, podcasting, calendar, tithing, gallery, video, audio.

• Thousands of free plugins for nearly any feature you can imagine.

• Connect with social outreach, – Twitter, Facebook, Google+

24GB Storage (more than you need) + unlimited email accounts.

All of these seems great for building your free church website. It all comes down to preference and how much work you want or are willing to do yourself to get a free church website.

Best Church Websites

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Maybe you’re a new church or an old church who wants to revamp and reach more people? Reaching people is what the call of the church is, to seek and save the lost and disciple them in the light of Jesus Christ. You need your information to be readily available to the masses right? This is the 21st century so it is time for a kicking website with all the bells and whistles. All the bells and whistles you may ask? Well maybe not, after all we don’t want an ugly, unmanigable site but enough to compete with the worlds glitz and glamour. The World is our competition in all things and certainly one of them is the power of the internet. At the same time it is important to remember the real reason for having a website in the first place; to relay information to your guest, members and readers. It is sort of like a smart phone, sometimes we forget the purpose of the smart phone is primarily to talk to each other. The purpose of your church website needs to be to clearly and neatly display information, the rest is frosting on top. I’ve seen some ugly church websites and some great church website design. But what are some example of the best church websites?

Let’s take a look at some of the best church websites before we get into other information. At the pinnacle of the list is Gateway Church website. This site is simple, clean, neat and it is easy to navigate through. It has a nice professional looking color scheme and the information is clearly marked and easy to read. This is a great website in my opinion. Now let’s look at Lakewood Church. This site is a little messier than I expected. But still an example of really good church website design. The main information scrolls across the front and the social media apps are clearly marked on the top of the site. Other information is marked clearly and is easy to navigate through on the side. The messiness comes with having too much information on the front page. Joel Osteen’s new article is right there along with ads for other ministries, and a church calendar. Then down below is the process for becoming a believer and joining the church. I would give this site a B while Gateway would get a A. On the search to find the best church websites I want to look at a site that is big and bold but still clean and neat. Victory Orlando is a new church in Orlando, FL! The church has the logo and major pages easily visible and accessible. Then there is a huge scrolling bar with all the major announcements and events happening. This has the potential to be overbearing and messy but it works well. If it were the first thing you saw and the other pages were not as clearly marked then I would say it was to much. Next there is a video about the new church which relays much of your information right there in a short but entertaining modern video. If you didn’t want to watch the video then you could still get the information from other pages.The site follows with the social icons and then contact information. The site is visually appealing while sill getting across important information clearly.

These are some import things to consider when building or buying your church’s website. Look at other articles on my site for being your own church website builder (webmaster for a more web savvy term), where to get free church websites, and many more web related articles full of helpful information and tips. The best church websites need to grab and keep your attention but still need to be clean and organized to get information across. I am sure there are examples of bad church websites out there but this article is not here to put anyone else down but to show you what to do right. If you know what the right things are then you won’t be tempted to do the wrong things. Happy designing! Check out my Hub page on this topic.