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Thread: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

  1. #1

    Default Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    Hi guys,

    I had a thought and tested it out. Didn't work out too well.

    Scenario:

    My object (a person) standing in front of me, perhaps 1.5 to 2 meters away and her background is a beautiful landscape with nothing to bounce my Speedlite
    Time : Night.

    Objective: to capture both object and the landscape clearly (no bokeh)

    So how do I keep everything in clear , since my aperture would have been at least 5.6 or 7.1 or 8.0 depending on my sweet spot lens, and that made my shutter speed will be slower, thus impacting a blur on my object ( I don't think any person will be able to stand still for more than 1 second ).

    Increasing ISO will be out of question and I do not want to increase any noise

    I used SP-430EXII

    Is this achievable?


    Thanks

    Regards,
    R
    Last edited by joker134; 1st August 2010 at 06:15 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    Try different Aperture and ISO and see how it affect your the flash on your subject.

    Try different shutter and see how it affect your background.

    Happy shooting!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    either get a fast lens like f1.8 or 2.8. or you bump up your iso.
    i always have this in mind, its better to have noisy photo rather than a blur one.
    cheers!
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    It will be very hard if not impossible to get a clear background with your stated criteria.

    First of all, in order to get a good and lighted back ground, with a F stop of 5.6 or 8 you'll need several seconds of exposure depending on the lightning.
    Secondly, for shutter speed to be less then 1 sec, your subject maybe vaguely visible (which i doubt so without the use of flash) and your background dark.
    Even with the use of flash, your subject will be visible and your background poorly lit...
    Without increasing the ISO, i do not think it is possible.
    Last edited by frostiee; 1st August 2010 at 08:08 PM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    Try just using TV settings first to bring out the back ground.
    Dont worry too much about the aperture. TV 0"5 to 1 Sec with flash and it'll be fine. more that one sec, your object starts to move thus u have blur images.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    Put your camera on a tripod and meter for the ambient (background)... that may be a few seconds for an aperture of 5.6 or 8.0. Then adjust your flash to match your exposure.

    The shutter speed affects the ambient light, while the aperture affects the flash exposure. In Nikon CLS, try to use rear flash (or wehatever equivalent in Canon). The flash should fire at the end of your shutter speed duration catching your subject sharp. Bu the tripod is a must because of the long exposure.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    Quote Originally Posted by joker134 View Post
    Hi guys,

    I had a thought and tested it out. Didn't work out too well.

    Scenario:

    My object (a person) standing in front of me, perhaps 1.5 to 2 meters away and her background is a beautiful landscape with nothing to bounce my Speedlite
    Time : Night.

    Objective: to capture both object and the landscape clearly (no bokeh)

    So how do I keep everything in clear , since my aperture would have been at least 5.6 or 7.1 or 8.0 depending on my sweet spot lens, and that made my shutter speed will be slower, thus impacting a blur on my object ( I don't think any person will be able to stand still for more than 1 second ).

    Increasing ISO will be out of question and I do not want to increase any noise

    I used SP-430EXII

    Is this achievable?


    Thanks

    Regards,
    R
    Since you are using a Canon camera, look for the flash mode which is the equivalent to "slow sync". Mount camera on tripod with flash. Focus on your subject.

  8. #8
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    first, you need a tripod,

    second, set your camera to slow sync if you are using auto, A or P mode

    third, set your flash to TTL, meter the whole scene and shoot, you may need to adjust camera EV compensation and Flash compensation accordingly after judging from the LCD.

    we can't tell you a magic mode or setting to use since we don't know what scene is that, the EV of the ambient light, what is the distance between your camera and subject and how the photo being composed.

    a few important things you need to understand, since it is a night scene, exposure time will be long and not possible to handheld,

    your subject need to stay still thru out the whole exposure, else your subject will be translucent/transparent,

    to have subject in sharp focus as well as the background, you need smaller aperture, but this will increase shutter speed, you need to find a balance between exposure time and desire depth of field,

    increase ISO will shorten the exposure time but will have more noise, you need to find a balance between exposure time and acceptable high ISO noise level,

    hope this help.
    Last edited by catchlights; 1st August 2010 at 08:32 PM.
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    Hi guys,

    Thanks for the replies.
    Yes, I forgot to mention, I did use a tripod.

    But for aperture 5.6 or 8.0 I'd have to set the shutter speed to at least 10 or 15s.

    I haven't tried Tv, since I used manual. But if I'm right, if I set shutter speed to for example 1s the camera will automatically choose the widest aperture and it wouldn't make everything in clear.

    Well some of my friend joked me , just use a digicam if you want these kind of results.


    About the flash modes: Are you guys talking about 1st and 2nd curtain? If my understanding is correct, slow sync and 2nd curtain are two different things. Mine now set at 2nd Curtain.


    Thanks

    Regards,
    R
    Last edited by joker134; 1st August 2010 at 08:39 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    Quote Originally Posted by catchlights View Post
    first, you need a tripod,

    second, set your camera to slow sync if you are using auto, A or P mode

    third, set your flash to TTL, meter the whole scene and shoot, you may need to adjust camera EV compensation and Flash compensation accordingly after judging from the LCD.

    we can't tell you a magic mode or setting to use since we don't know what scene is that, the EV of the ambient light, what is the distance between your camera and subject and how the photo being composed.

    a few important things you need to understand, since it is a night scene, exposure time will be long and not possible to handheld,

    your subject need to stay still thru out the whole exposure, else your subject will be translucent/transparent,

    to have subject in sharp focus as well as the background, you need smaller aperture, but this will increase shutter speed, you need to find a balance between exposure time and desire depth of field,

    increase ISO will shorten the exposure time but will have more noise, you need to find a balance between exposure time and acceptable high ISO noise level,

    hope this help.
    Uncle catchlight,

    Thanks for the time replying.

    Yes I'm aware that there's no magic number to do this. I'm also aware of the foundations (ISO, aperture, shutter speed, etc). My problem is, when my subject can not stand still for more than 1 second, is the only choice I have is increasing my ISO?

    Let's see what I'm fixed at:

    Shutter speed = 1 second or more
    Aperture = at least 5.6 or 7.1

    My flash power wouldn't help if the background is, for example, a huge lake, or a mountain.

    Thanks

    Regards,
    R

  11. #11
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    Quote Originally Posted by joker134 View Post
    Uncle catchlight,

    Thanks for the time replying.

    Yes I'm aware that there's no magic number to do this. I'm also aware of the foundations (ISO, aperture, shutter speed, etc). My problem is, when my subject can not stand still for more than 1 second, is the only choice I have is increasing my ISO?

    Let's see what I'm fixed at:

    Shutter speed = 1 second or more
    Aperture = at least 5.6 or 7.1

    My flash power wouldn't help if the background is, for example, a huge lake, or a mountain.

    Thanks

    Regards,
    R
    yes, the subject has to stay still thru out the exposure, this is to block out the background and prevent it recorded on the subject during the exposure.

    and yes, flash won't able to light up background, if it is cityscape, still have some city lights able to illuminate the scene, but if it is lake or mountain, you will only depend on moon light, even it is cloudless full moon night, the exposure time will still be a few seconds.

    Photography Basic Daylight Exposure


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  12. #12
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    Quote Originally Posted by joker134 View Post
    Hi guys,

    Thanks for the replies.
    Yes, I forgot to mention, I did use a tripod.

    But for aperture 5.6 or 8.0 I'd have to set the shutter speed to at least 10 or 15s.

    I haven't tried Tv, since I used manual. But if I'm right, if I set shutter speed to for example 1s the camera will automatically choose the widest aperture and it wouldn't make everything in clear.

    Well some of my friend joked me , just use a digicam if you want these kind of results.


    About the flash modes: Are you guys talking about 1st and 2nd curtain? If my understanding is correct, slow sync and 2nd curtain are two different things. Mine now set at 2nd Curtain.


    Thanks

    Regards,
    R
    since your subject is stationary, there is no different between 1st or 2nd curtain sync.

    a digicam is simply by using high ISO, so it is less complicated, but results is only acceptable to people who are less demanding.
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    if you're using slow sync, shouldn't the flash be able to "freeze" your subject even at a long exposure? just asking coz i read it somewhere about using flash without overpowering (black out) your background. correct me if i'm wrong here

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    Yes with rear sync flash, it cannot be over-emphasised that your subjects will have stay very very still.

    At the very most, a slight tilt is still acceptable because it won't be that easily seen. After all, it's very hard for a human to act like a robot.

    Quote Originally Posted by pasay View Post
    if you're using slow sync, shouldn't the flash be able to "freeze" your subject even at a long exposure? just asking coz i read it somewhere about using flash without overpowering (black out) your background. correct me if i'm wrong here
    If you read up on front/rear sync flash, you would know why. And "Freezing" your subject's motion is not the job of your flash, but rather the job of your shutter speed. Flash provides light to increase your shutter speed.
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  15. #15
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    Quote Originally Posted by pasay View Post
    if you're using slow sync, shouldn't the flash be able to "freeze" your subject even at a long exposure? just asking coz i read it somewhere about using flash without overpowering (black out) your background. correct me if i'm wrong here
    flash will freeze the subject, since TS will use long exposure, the images will keep recording before or after the flash, if the human subject did not stay put thru out the exposure, the background image will be record on the human subject and make he/she transparent.
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  16. #16
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    Quote Originally Posted by gymak90 View Post
    Yes with rear sync flash, it cannot be over-emphasised that your subjects will have stay very very still.

    At the very most, a slight tilt is still acceptable because it won't be that easily seen. After all, it's very hard for a human to act like a robot.



    If you read up on front/rear sync flash, you would know why. And "Freezing" your subject's motion is not the job of your flash, but rather the job of your shutter speed. Flash provides light to increase your shutter speed.
    you understanding of front and rear sync flash is incorrect, flash is able to freeze action, since the duration of flash much faster than most camera shutter speed. and flash does not increase camera shutter speed.

    anyway, for the situation here, the flash is use to illuminate the subject, the long exposure is to record the background.
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  17. #17

    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    First, select the widest aperture that will still give you enough DOF to cover subject and background. Then have to compromise between shutter speed and ISO to give enough exposure for background.

    With the correct exposure settings, next is how to best freeze the subject. Of course best is subject can remain stationary. If not, have subject under shade and use flash to freeze any movement.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    Quote Originally Posted by catchlights View Post
    you understanding of front and rear sync flash is incorrect, flash is able to freeze action, since the duration of flash much faster than most camera shutter speed. and flash does not increase camera shutter speed.

    anyway, for the situation here, the flash is use to illuminate the subject, the long exposure is to record the background.
    Yes I agree with your last sentence. Maybe I wasn't clear. I was talking about normal flash (no front/rear sync) gives more light so that the shutter speed can be increased, so motion is freezed.

    For front/rear sync, then the flash "freezes" motion.
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  19. #19
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    Quote Originally Posted by gymak90 View Post
    Yes I agree with your last sentence. Maybe I wasn't clear. I was talking about normal flash (no front/rear sync) gives more light so that the shutter speed can be increased, so motion is freezed.

    For front/rear sync, then the flash "freezes" motion.
    no, flash is the one who freeze the action, the flash duration usually is 1/5000s or shorter, even the shutter speed increase, it is still much slower the flash duration.
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  20. #20

    Default Re: Flash and metering for Night Portrait

    May be should clarify that flash can only freeze subject if subject is not well iluminated by ambient light.

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