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Lighting Help! Night portrait shoot...

Shae Jones , Aug 28, 2009; 05:37 p.m.

Hi, I have a shoot this evening with 2 sisters who want photos downtown. We are starting in the early evening and they want some shots at night with the lights of the city downtown. Does anyone have any lighting suggestions? Thanks!


Errol Young - Toronto, ON, CA , Aug 28, 2009; 08:29 p.m.

I would use a single flash on the camera. Look for city lights in the background

China Town Toronto

Wei Wei , Aug 30, 2009; 01:31 a.m.

If you want to get some interesting portraits with an outdoor background in evening, you need an important equipment - tripod. It is better to use an off camera flash. An extension cord shall be fine if you have not a remote trigger.
The technique: 1) metering the background in the pattern mode 2) reduce one to two stops the exposure by dialing down shutter speed (that shall be way below your camera X syn) 3) set your flash to match the aperture (I assume you have a flash meter).
Here is a sample made with the technique stated above.

Wei Wei , Aug 30, 2009; 01:35 a.m.

For some reason, the photo is not shown in my previous post. Try it again.

Outdoor night Yoga

Tom Meyer , Aug 30, 2009; 11:44 p.m.

Try to get them in place at twilight/dusk. Use a tripod and put your flash off camera in an umbrella... t

iso 100 1/3rd sec @ f4.8

Mark Anthony Kathurima , Aug 31, 2009; 04:17 a.m.

Nice shot, Tom. Lovely colour balance and exposure :)

I would second the advice to use a tripod with long(ish) exposure - dragging the shutter. The subjects may have to remain quite still. You can also manage with flash on camera as long as it's not head-on, direct, harsh flash, but shot through a diffuser of some sort. I use the Demb Flash Diffuser Pro which has a dual purpose of bounce and diffusion. I get great results even outdoors at night, handheld.

Question, will you use a fast lens (i.e wide max aperture, f/2.8 or greater)?

Shae Jones , Aug 31, 2009; 10:32 a.m.

Mark, yes I will use f/.8 or greater....great shot by the way!

Ty Yang , Sep 02, 2009; 02:33 p.m.

Frame your subjects well to take advantage of distant lights... you can create some amazing bokeh shots. I stumbled upon a bay area photographer Dustin Diaz. He takes great nightime shots.
His site: http://photography.dustindiaz.com/

Scott Mains , Sep 06, 2009; 09:39 p.m.

I use a canon 400d (rebel xti) with a 430ex 2 speedlight (mounted off camera) + lumiquest softbox. This diffuses the lighting and lets me get some good creative looks. By having a good balance between low shutter and relatively high iso, I have been able to get some good effects of night portraits. The softbox mounted off camera has taken the standard pop-up flash look and thrown it away. Especially when it's late, peoples pupils will be more dilated (especially when they have been drinking) and this can cause red-eye.

A good starter for night settings
ISO – 400
F 5.6
@ 1/30
Flash -1/3 stop set on second curtain sync.

This isn't a night portrait, but these we're pretty much the settings I used to het this effect in a badly lit music venue. The same principal applies elsewhere.

Scott Mains , Nov 17, 2009; 11:42 a.m.

please ignore the last link. Due to a site failure I've had to reload a lot of images. Will submit a new link in the near future.

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