Flash and metering for Night Portrait


joker134

New Member
May 15, 2009
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#1
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:

Snowcrash

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Jan 18, 2002
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#2
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!
 

haqeel

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Jan 21, 2009
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#3
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! :)
 

frostiee

New Member
Dec 15, 2008
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#4
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:
Apr 29, 2009
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#5
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.
 

rahmansaid

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Jan 10, 2010
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#6
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.
 

Daoyin

Senior Member
Nov 25, 2008
2,808
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#7
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.
 

catchlights

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Sep 27, 2004
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#8
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:

joker134

New Member
May 15, 2009
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#9
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. :D


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:

joker134

New Member
May 15, 2009
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#10
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
 

catchlights

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#11
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


.
 

catchlights

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Sep 27, 2004
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#12
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. :D


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.
 

pasay

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May 13, 2010
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#13
if you're using slow sync, shouldn't the flash be able to "freeze" your subject even at a long exposure? :dunno: just asking coz i read it somewhere about using flash without overpowering (black out) your background. correct me if i'm wrong here:sweat:
 

gymak90

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Jan 5, 2008
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#14
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're using slow sync, shouldn't the flash be able to "freeze" your subject even at a long exposure? :dunno: just asking coz i read it somewhere about using flash without overpowering (black out) your background. correct me if i'm wrong here:sweat:
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.
 

catchlights

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#15
if you're using slow sync, shouldn't the flash be able to "freeze" your subject even at a long exposure? :dunno: just asking coz i read it somewhere about using flash without overpowering (black out) your background. correct me if i'm wrong here:sweat:
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.
 

catchlights

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#16
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.
 

GRbenji

New Member
May 24, 2010
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#17
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.
 

gymak90

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Jan 5, 2008
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#18
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.
 

catchlights

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#19
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.
 

GRbenji

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May 24, 2010
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#20
May be should clarify that flash can only freeze subject if subject is not well iluminated by ambient light.
 

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