How to take night photo of people


voice123

New Member
Jan 16, 2012
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Singapore
#1
example





if i use flash, the people will be lighted and the background will be dark.


if i don use flash the people will be dark and the background is lighted up..

if i wan both to be equal i have to use lower shutter and image will be blur.....

note that the photo are to be taken without tripod.


wad are the recommended setting or mode should i use. thanks
 

tecnica

Senior Member
Dec 26, 2004
3,660
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#2
1) manage the ambient exposure first, get it somewhere to your liking
2) add in the fill flash for human subjects
3) chances are you will need to use 2nd curtain flash, high ISO and wide aperture
4) shooting at wide angle will help mitigate camera shake
 

catchlights

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 27, 2004
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Punggol, Singapore
www.foto-u.com
#3
is this your photo?
if it is not, please use URL link to the website, and give credit to the original creator for using it as reference.



back to your question, you need to understand the ambient light is not enough to give you a shutter speed for you to shoot hand held and stop the movement of your subject.

the flash light is not powerful to light the entire scene. and if it is does, the foreground will be overexposed.


the only way is to balance both. slow shutter and with the help of tripod or high ISO.

just take a look at the photo again.

flash was use, see the shadow of tripod legs,
shutter speed is slow, see the motion blur of the hand and face of the girl standing at the far right.
 

sjackal

Senior Member
Jul 9, 2008
4,490
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#4
Manual control.
 

Shizuma

Senior Member
Mar 19, 2012
2,557
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#6
rear curtain flash sync, slow shutter...
on 2 diffused speedlight at 45 degrees off center (4 oclock and 8 oclock in the plan view) > evidenced from tripod legs as pointed out by Sifu Catchlights
not too wide aperture (background lights on bridge not bokeh-ified).

im still very noob at lighting flash, please correct me if i am wrong
 

eleveninth

Senior Member
Jan 17, 2006
6,218
2
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#7
use tripod take one exposure with flash for the people and another exposure for the back then do quick mask.


lol
 

dennisc

Senior Member
Oct 24, 2002
2,026
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Freezing Upp Thomson/Mandai!
#9
i thought flash are to compensate certain things and exposure/settings are to balance the background.. difficult to advice without seeing the condition you're shooting at (lowlight, outdoor sunny, dawn, evening, rain etc) best is you read up. If I've an impressive cam collection like your, I'd try to master it on my 1st outing already
 

jasonlel

Senior Member
Apr 9, 2010
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#10
Some points to take note for flash night photography
1. aperture & iso: control exposure and ambient light
2. shutter speed: control ONLY ambient light

Having said that, adjust your aperture and iso, until you are satisfied with your exposure. Then adjust your shutter speed until u capture your desire ambient light. Again, your shutter speed will not affect much on the exposure.

Here's what I will usually start with
1. set dslr/flash to manual mode
2. iso 800 or 1600 (depending how dark is the environment)
3. flash power, i will start with 1/4 or 1/8
4. aperture up to your choice, shutter speed 1/60
5. take a few test shot and adjust accordingly

*if you are worry about low shutter and cause blur picture, you will need to bump higher ISO :p

Hope this helps.

this is one of the picture I took with the above technique
 

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CorneliusK

Senior Member
Jan 23, 2010
790
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#11
Ok I got a slightly more comprehensive guide to how to take night shots of people.

First you need to figure the settings on your camera for a good exposure for the background.
1. You would want to choose the slowest shutter speed possible which you can still hand hold. Typically this will be 1/(focal length). E.g. If you are using a 50mm prime you should set the shutter speed at 1/50s. If you have a stabilised lens even better, e.g. if you have a 18-55mm kit lens with VR/IS, you can try setting the zoom at 18mm and the shutter speed at 1/10s. Some people can handhold very slow shutter speeds, some can't, so do your own experiments.
2. Set the widest aperture you are comfortable with. If you have a f1.4 lens and you are confident about getting the focus correct, go ahead and set it at f1.4.
3. Adjust the ISO until you get a good exposure for your background. If the background is very bright you may wish to increase the shutter speed or close down the aperture to compensate.

Next you need to adjust flash power for your subject.
1. Start from 1/16 power on your flash and take a test shot. Adjust your power up or down from there.
2. Sometimes you may find that even the lowest power setting on the flash is still too bright for the subject. This is possible when the ambient is very dark. You can either try to bounce the flash if there is something to bounce off, or you can close down the aperture and try to find a way to stabilize your camera so that you can use an even slower shutter speed to compensate (e.g. by putting it on a railing/table/tripod etc)


Kamen Rider Kiva by CorneliusK, on Flickr

24mm, f1.4, 1/15s, iso 800. Handheld shot

3. Another tip is that if it is VERY dark, you can use very slow shutter speeds and still get a sharp pic of your subject. The reason is that the duration of the flash's light is very fast, it is like you are using a fast shutter speed.


Sword Art Online: Heathcliff by CorneliusK, on Flickr

85mm, f5.0 (stopped down to get the moon in focus), 0.4s, iso 800. Also handheld

Hope this helps!
 

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jasonlel

Senior Member
Apr 9, 2010
590
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#12
Ok I got a slightly more comprehensive guide to how to take night shots of people.

First you need to figure the settings on your camera for a good exposure for the background.
1. You would want to choose the slowest shutter speed possible which you can still hand hold. Typically this will be 1/(focal length). E.g. If you are using a 50mm prime you should set the shutter speed at 1/50s. If you have a stabilised lens even better, e.g. if you have a 18-55mm kit lens with VR/IS, you can try setting the zoom at 18mm and the shutter speed at 1/10s. Some people can handhold very slow shutter speeds, some can't, so do your own experiments.
2. Set the widest aperture you are comfortable with. If you have a f1.4 lens and you are confident about getting the focus correct, go ahead and set it at f1.4.
3. Adjust the ISO until you get a good exposure for your background. If the background is very bright you may wish to increase the shutter speed or close down the aperture to compensate.

Next you need to adjust flash power for your subject.
1. Start from 1/16 power on your flash and take a test shot. Adjust your power up or down from there.
2. Sometimes you may find that even the lowest power setting on the flash is still too bright for the subject. This is possible when the ambient is very dark. You can either try to bounce the flash if there is something to bounce off, or you can close down the aperture and try to find a way to stabilize your camera so that you can use an even slower shutter speed to compensate (e.g. by putting it on a railing/table/tripod etc)



24mm, f1.4, 1/15s, iso 800. Handheld shot

3. Another tip is that if it is VERY dark, you can use very slow shutter speeds and still get a sharp pic of your subject. The reason is that the duration of the flash's light is very fast, it is like you are using a fast shutter speed.


85mm, f5.0 (stopped down to get the moon in focus), 0.4s, iso 800. Also handheld

Hope this helps!
Great info!

Just to add on, one of the reasons why night flash photography with slow shutter speed can still get sharp picture, is because the light bounce back from the subject to the sensor at faster speed.
 

avsquare

Senior Member
Jan 26, 2012
3,306
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#13
Great info!

Just to add on, one of the reasons why night flash photography with slow shutter speed can still get sharp picture, is because the light bounce back from the subject to the sensor at faster speed.
Nope. It is because situations such as night, or even indoors, or even studios, the main light is from the flash/strobe itself. The intensity of the ambient light is usually very weak compared to your flash/strobe. As such, the light that your sensor records of your subject (the person) comes from the flash/strobe itself.

Shall not confuse you with strobes, but for flash, the actual duration of the flash is way faster than your camera's fastest shutter speed of 1/8000. Just using a random number, say your flash burst is 1/20000 of a second - this is kinda the "effective shutter speed" of your "shot" on the subject itself, because your flash is the main light.

This is the reason why when you use slow shutter like 1/30s but with the help of a burst of the flash, the subject appears still. You can say that the flash freezes the motion instead of shutter speed in this case. Do note that using flash to freeze motion only works when the flash is the main light itself and there's no other "strong" light that shines on your subject for the entire duration of the shutter, causing any motion to be actually recorded.
 

CorneliusK

Senior Member
Jan 23, 2010
790
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#14
Great info!

Just to add on, one of the reasons why night flash photography with slow shutter speed can still get sharp picture, is because the light bounce back from the subject to the sensor at faster speed.
That is not correct.

The reason why you can use flash to freeze motion is because the duration of the flash is very quick, its something like 1/1000s for a normal speedlight.

Let's say you are shooting a subject in a very dark location. Let's say that it is so dark, even if you use a very show shutter speed, the subject is so underexposed that it is not visible in the photo.

Now when you use flash in such a scenario, the flash will be providing 100% of the lighting on the subject, as there is virtually no ambient light on the subject. In this case, the camera sensor will be exposed for 1/10 of a second, but it will only "see" the subject during the 1/1000 of a second when the flash is activated. Thus the subject will as though it is being shot at a shutter speed of 1/1000s.
 

jasonlel

Senior Member
Apr 9, 2010
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#15
That is not correct.

The reason why you can use flash to freeze motion is because the duration of the flash is very quick, its something like 1/1000s for a normal speedlight.

Let's say you are shooting a subject in a very dark location. Let's say that it is so dark, even if you use a very show shutter speed, the subject is so underexposed that it is not visible in the photo.

Now when you use flash in such a scenario, the flash will be providing 100% of the lighting on the subject, as there is virtually no ambient light on the subject. In this case, the camera sensor will be exposed for 1/10 of a second, but it will only "see" the subject during the 1/1000 of a second when the flash is activated. Thus the subject will as though it is being shot at a shutter speed of 1/1000s.
hmmmmm but photography is about light.... if the subject doesn't bounce back the light, the sensor wont be capturing it at that speed.... no? This statement is just limited to flash photography...
 

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avsquare

Senior Member
Jan 26, 2012
3,306
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#16
Great info!

Just to add on, one of the reasons why night flash photography with slow shutter speed can still get sharp picture, is because the light bounce back from the subject to the sensor at faster speed.
hmmmmm but photography is about light.... if the subject doesn't bounce back the light, the sensor wont be capturing it at that speed.... no? This statement is just limited to flash photography...
That's because your sentence is fundamentally incorrect.

1) Of course whatever we see or the sensor see, is bounced light.. Whether day or night, flash or no flash...

2) "is because the light bounce back from the subject to the sensor at faster speed" - speed of light is a constant. I've no idea what you're referring to, though.


In any case, bro CorneliusK has given a detailed explanation - in summary, in a situation whereby the flash is the main light and providing almost all the light shining on the subject, the effective shutter speed is the duration of the the flash burst. If the flash bursts for a duration of 1/1000s, the effective shutter speed is 1/1000s despite dialing 1/10s on your camera.
 

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CorneliusK

Senior Member
Jan 23, 2010
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#17
I don't understand what you are trying to ask. In my example given, I never said that the subject is not reflecting any of the light.
 

Daoyin

Senior Member
Nov 25, 2008
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#19
Thanks for all the contributions also.
 

Shizuma

Senior Member
Mar 19, 2012
2,557
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#20
Great info!

Just to add on, one of the reasons why night flash photography with slow shutter speed can still get sharp picture, is because the light bounce back from the subject to the sensor at faster speed.
speed of light is air is constant with tiny deviations for more humid air or denser air.

i guess you are referring to the very short burst duration of the flash itself being on?

i think you got the idea correct , just that the expression of it didn't quite come out
 

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