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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre People Talk 
Thread started 06 Jan 2012 (Friday) 19:13
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Night Portraits

 
mrdunu
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Jan 06, 2012 19:13 |  #1

So i've been trying to "master" the art of night photography, but it seems like I'm going no where. Here's a quick shot that I took on NYE, hoping to get a sharp image of both my subjects and the ambient light from the harbour bridge. But as you can see, I've failed miserably. My question is, how do people take night portraits? If I was to increase my shutter speed, I'd get no ambient light. If I was to slow down my shutter speed to capture the ambient light, I'd get subject movement. And even with the rear curtain flash, you don't get as sharp of an image as possible.

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rbeene
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Jan 07, 2012 10:45 |  #2

Try shooting with higher ISO settings. It will introduce additional noise but would you rather have a sharply focused photograph with some noise or an OOF photograph with no noise? I would bump my ISO to 1600 and then adjust my SS faster.




  
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Kristy
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Jan 07, 2012 10:51 |  #3

Higher ISO, like he said...

I wouldn't hesistate to use fill flash in a night time setting, unless you can get your subject closer to a light source that will illuminate the mask of their faces, and adjust your camera exposure accordingly.

If you are using those slow shutter speeds, you will need a tripod or a monopod


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rhondar
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Jan 15, 2012 14:23 |  #4

The one thing I see from your picture is your focus point is not on your friends..It is on the bridge????..I think you misfocused...


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nathancarter
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Jan 16, 2012 11:43 |  #5

mrdunu wrote in post #13660175 (external link)
So i've been trying to "master" the art of night photography, but it seems like I'm going no where. Here's a quick shot that I took on NYE, hoping to get a sharp image of both my subjects and the ambient light from the harbour bridge. But as you can see, I've failed miserably. My question is, how do people take night portraits? If I was to increase my shutter speed, I'd get no ambient light. If I was to slow down my shutter speed to capture the ambient light, I'd get subject movement. And even with the rear curtain flash, you don't get as sharp of an image as possible.

My analysis goes like this:
It's going to be very difficult to get both the bridge and the subjects to be "sharp" or in focus. They're just so far apart, you would have to use a very tiny aperture (large f-stop number) to even come close to having the subjects and the bridge in focus at the same time. With f/2.8, it's not gonna happen.

If you close down the aperture to get more depth-of-field (more stuff in focus) then you're losing light. You'd either need to crank up the ISO, or use a longer shutter speed - neither of which are particularly desirable for portraiture. However, if there's not much ambient light falling on your subjects, then you CAN use a longer shutter speed to expose for the bridge, then use a flash to expose your subject. The flash fires much faster than the shutter or your subjects' movement, so you'll still get the subjects crisp even with a long shutter speed (as long as the focus is correct, that is). The key is that the ambient light falling on your subjects must be minimal, to avoid "ghosting" - so make an effort to NOT pose your subjects near any light sources, streetlights, etc.

Make sure to focus on the subjects. Focus on the eyes, or as close to the eyes as you can get. With a wide aperture (f/2.8) the background will fall out of focus. For portraiture, that's okay - you want the attention to be on the subjects, so if the background is a little out of focus that's generally quite acceptable.

If you want a fool-proof way to get the subjects and the background sharp, then use a tripod, make two exposures and merge them in Photoshop. Make one where you focus on the subjects and light them appropriately with flash, then make a second exposure where you focus on the bridge and use a long shutter speed.


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king ­ grant
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Jan 25, 2012 00:39 |  #6

not much else to be said for exposure or focus but i would suggest you crop atleast half the headroom from this shot. the eye should be drawn to the people and not the sky above them that is pitch black


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mrdunu
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Jan 25, 2012 16:21 |  #7

nathancarter wrote in post #13713443 (external link)
My analysis goes like this:
If you close down the aperture to get more depth-of-field (more stuff in focus) then you're losing light. You'd either need to crank up the ISO, or use a longer shutter speed - neither of which are particularly desirable for portraiture. However, if there's not much ambient light falling on your subjects, then you CAN use a longer shutter speed to expose for the bridge, then use a flash to expose your subject. The flash fires much faster than the shutter or your subjects' movement, so you'll still get the subjects crisp even with a long shutter speed (as long as the focus is correct, that is). The key is that the ambient light falling on your subjects must be minimal, to avoid "ghosting" - so make an effort to NOT pose your subjects near any light sources, streetlights, etc.

Wow I didn't realise this thread was still open! thanks for all the response guys! Yeah I was having a chat to one of my other photographer friends, and they were saying pretty much the same thing. I might give it a go, however its been raining cats and dogs lately. I'll post up some more photos when I get a chance :)

Once again, thank you for all your kind responses :)


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Canon 7D | 17-55 | ∑ 30 1.4 | MPE-65
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nathancarter
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Jan 25, 2012 22:20 |  #8

Post the next ones when you can! I'm anxious to see your improved results.


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mrdunu
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Jan 25, 2012 23:29 as a reply to  @ nathancarter's post |  #9

will do :)


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Canon 7D | 17-55 | ∑ 30 1.4 | MPE-65
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mrdunu
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Feb 14, 2012 15:02 |  #10

nathancarter wrote in post #13769712 (external link)
Post the next ones when you can! I'm anxious to see your improved results.

As requested, here's my "improved" shot. Seems like stable hands + longer shutter speeds + low ceilings do the trick. i'm still yet to take a night portrait where there's no ceilings, would you point the flash at the subject in ettl?

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luke.beck
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Feb 15, 2012 23:50 as a reply to  @ mrdunu's post |  #11

Hi. Have you tried using faster lenses? I does the magic.




  
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mrdunu
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Feb 16, 2012 16:43 |  #12

luke.beck wrote in post #13906365 (external link)
Hi. Have you tried using faster lenses? I does the magic.

Fast Lens? How fast is fast? Even if I was to use my 30mm @ 1.4, i'd get an enormous amount of depth of field and my subjects' highlights would just wash away


Optics:
Canon 7D | 17-55 | ∑ 30 1.4 | MPE-65
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cxphotokid
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Feb 20, 2012 22:55 |  #13

mrdunu wrote in post #13910515 (external link)
Fast Lens? How fast is fast? Even if I was to use my 30mm @ 1.4, i'd get an enormous amount of depth of field and my subjects' highlights would just wash away

Hmmm dunno about that, I'm sure you'd get less depth of field at 1.4 and more "bokeh". Also, not sure why your highlights would wash away, if you set the flash at its lowest setting and camera to f/1.4 you could use your ISO to manage the exposure, or vice versa and set ISO to lowest setting then use more power with flash for less noise.


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mrdunu
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Feb 22, 2012 14:43 |  #14

cxphotokid wrote in post #13933621 (external link)
Hmmm dunno about that, I'm sure you'd get less depth of field at 1.4 and more "bokeh". Also, not sure why your highlights would wash away, if you set the flash at its lowest setting and camera to f/1.4 you could use your ISO to manage the exposure, or vice versa and set ISO to lowest setting then use more power with flash for less noise.

Interesting. I always thought, when taking portraits, to always have your aperture above 3.5, otherwise too much of your subject will be out of focus. I'll give it a go for next time! Thanks for the advice!


Optics:
Canon 7D | 17-55 | ∑ 30 1.4 | MPE-65
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bobbyz
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Feb 29, 2012 15:10 |  #15

mrdunu wrote in post #13945073 (external link)
Interesting. I always thought, when taking portraits, to always have your aperture above 3.5, otherwise too much of your subject will be out of focus. I'll give it a go for next time! Thanks for the advice!

Depends if you shooting single person or multiple. Even with multiple you can shoot at wider apertures. You need to read up on DOF. I rarely use anything like f3.5 or slower. And that is with glass from 35mm to 200mm. I mostly shoot single person shots.


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