This was the expression on my wife's face when she saw me enter with a camera on my shoulder. We were seated next to the front window, which was to my right. There was enough light for me to get a reasonably sharp, daylight-balanced exposure at 1/50 second and f/2.8 at ISO 400.
My wife and I had agreed to meet for dinner at an Indian restaurant in Manayunk, a neighborhood in Philadelphia that features a wealth of small shops, bars, and eating establishments. As I often do, I had a camera slung over my shoulder. This amused her, as you can see from the photo above. Her impression was that there wasn't much to photograph in the restaurant other than the food and her, and that once we finished dinner we would head home to relieve the babysitter and put the kids to bed.
Ah, but we had come in separate cars--she from an office in the city and me from my office at home. So instead of going directly home after dinner I dawdled a bit. Strike that. I was "testing the low light capabilities of the Nikon D7000's image sensor." I was also testing my hand-holding abilities. IS/OIS/VR/SR, etc. are all wonderful things. So is being able to hold a camera still without them.
By the time dinner ended it was twilight. The sun had just set. The remaining light from the sky cast a soft glow over everything. Because I was using a 35mm f/2.0 lens I had the option of using a fast aperture to raise my shutter speed into the range of hand-holdability without having to drastically raise the ISO. As tempting as it is to use high ISOs in low light, I generally do so only as a last resort because low key subjects are the first to show image noise and don't respond as well to shadow curve adjustments. The best example of this is the photo below, located only a few dozen yards away from where my car was parked.
The bridge above was backlit by the western sky, where the sun had just set behind the trees. The bridge is silhouetted because if I increased the exposure the clouds and sky would have clipped. If I had shot this as a JPEG I would probably have deleted it later. There would be no way to rescue the lost shadow detail. A cameraphone would have been out of the question. Fortunately, I shot RAW with a Nikon D7000, so I could do what I did below.
Pretty amazing, eh? Because I braced myself on a nearby post I was able to shoot at 1/25 second and f/5.0 at ISO 200, which meant the shadows were clean enough that I could boost them in post without having to worry about them getting glittery on me.
By the way, the water you see in the photos is from the Manayank canal, which runs parallel to the Schuylkill (SKOO-kuhl) River, and was the first canal dug in the U.S. The railroad tracks are for a suburban commuter train, which makes Manayunk easily accessible. Should you decide to visit, take a tip from me: Be prepared. Bring your camera.