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Through A Filter, Darkly: The Best Effects for Low-Light Photography

By Yume Delegato | Effects Showcase

As any veteran photographer will tell you, one of the most challenging conditions to shoot in is low light. Having spent innumerable hours squinting over my iPhone in dimly lit concert venues, I can tell you that no matter how good your original image is, if it was shot in low-light conditions, it's going to need a little TLC - your chances of #nofilter'ing that beezy are pretty slim.

While some basic edits (fill light, exposure, brightness)  offer OK results in the case of low-light photos, if you want to step-up your night life photography game, consider also  some of these BeFunky filters to your tool-kit:

Vintage 3 + Beautify

Technically this is two effects, but Vintage 3 and Beautify is one of my favorite one-two combos for punching up a low light photo: Vintage 3 removes some of the haziness from the shot, and Beautify really makes the colors pop.


The artsy concert silhouette was always one of my go-to shots, if I was ever covering a show that was reallllllly dark. The trick, however, is to make sure that you make your subject is as starkly lit as possible without making the background look washed-out and grey. They say that darkness is merely the absence of light, and nowhere should that be more true than in a silhouette shot - your blacks should be black, not... well, anything else. LomoArt can usually deliver what you're looking for, in that regard.

Instant 2

I liked the composition of this photo, but the color on the original was atrocious. Most of the BeFunky's Instant effects add a fair bit of warmth and softness, especially Instant 2. (Warmth and softness are seldom a bad thing, where close-ups are concerned. Your friends will mostly likely appreciate it if you don't make them look like subjects in Avedon's "In The American West" series.)

B&W Dramatic

Mixed light sources? The photo is well-exposed but you don't like the color? Sometimes a color filter just won't cut it. In that case, try re-imagining the photo in black and white. When color is distracting, let the tone of the light speak for itself.

Pop Art 1

How egotistical is it to include a photo of yourself in a list of photography tips? Probably pretty darn egotistical, but I do it to illustrate a point. After concert pics, the photo that's taken most frequently in low-light conditions is the group selfie (then there are group selfies AT concerts, but let's not get crazy).

The original selfie was fine, but the color didn't look very natural (my friend and I were standing in a crowded bar and not, in fact, in the glow of a roaring fire, but that's almost what it looks like). While any of the aforementioned effect families would've cleaned this shot up just fine, once in the while it can be fun to mix things up with the Pop Art or Duotone effects. I chose Pop Art 1 for this example, but you could go with Pop Art 2 or 3, if you really want to get your Andy Wharhol on.

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