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Author Topic: Speedlight for perfect night portraits  (Read 9653 times)

myone

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Speedlight for perfect night portraits
« on: August 27, 2012, 02:14:57 PM »
Hi,

I am still trying to master speedlight/night portrait photography, and ever since I upgraded to 5D3 with no built in flash, I am having difficulties using my 430EXII to get the correct exposure for night photography.

The usual setting would be trying to take pictures of people standing in front of a background scene at night. Whenever I try to use my speed light, the subject would turn out too bright and the background went completely dark.

I have read many forums and they all discussed different methods to achieve balance between nicely lit subject and visible background night scape.

So my question is, what is the correct settings for taking such pictures? I want to be able to use my 430EXII as my primary light for family vacation pictures, giving enough lightning to the subject as well as capturing the background night scape.

Any help is much appreciated, and yes, I am just starting to learn more about night photography with external flash :-)
5D3 | EOS M | 24-70L | 24-105L | 35L | 17-40L | 60,2.8 | 430EXII | EF-M 22 pancake | EF-M 18-55

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Speedlight for perfect night portraits
« on: August 27, 2012, 02:14:57 PM »

philsv77

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Re: Speedlight for perfect night portraits
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2012, 02:42:14 PM »
Yay, welcome to the world of speed flash photography.  You should start reading http://strobist.blogspot.com.
To get you started, here are some simple camera setting to improve your night shot. 

- Switch your camera to Av mode
- Keep Evaluative Metering mode
- Set your camera to the faster aperture as possible and still maintain the good DOF. Eg: f2.8 on 50mm lens.

Without flash, fire it.  Note that the scene is correctly exposed but the subject could be underexposed if it's backlight.  That's why you need to add fill flash.

Attach and turn on the flash, change the flash's mode to E-TTL (extremely important), and without changing any previous setting,   fire the shot again.

Now, your subject should be lit properly and the background still maintain a good exposure, not DARKEN.

Enjoy!

Timothy_Bruce

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Re: Speedlight for perfect night portraits
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2012, 02:47:55 PM »
don´t be afraid of long exposure times, the flash will freeze you subject and  for  you background there is IS ;)

triggermike

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Re: Speedlight for perfect night portraits
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2012, 04:25:23 PM »
Use Manual mode setting on the camera. Meter the ambient (non-subject portion) and set the camera using the aperature you want with the corresponding speed the meter is telling you to set. If the speed is too slow for your liking (REALLY slow - as T Bruce mentioned the flash will freeze your subject), bump up your ISO to get faster speed for the same aperature. I usually like to dial back a half-stop or so on the ambient exposure so the subject will stand out more. Now turn on your flash and use in E-TTL and all will be fine! This is even better indoors at many occasions because you can simply leave your manual settings as they are from scene to scene as the ambient stays relatively consistent. If the scene changes dramatically, just dial a new speed - but small variations in ambient, especially if you slightly underexpose, will not kill the shot.

TrumpetPower!

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Re: Speedlight for perfect night portraits
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2012, 05:04:17 PM »
An on-camera flash certainly can do a lot to improve the light in a dismal setting, but you'll be hard-pressed to get "perfect" night portraits out of one. Your best bet would be to bounce the flash, which is often impossible outdoors.

Somebody else has already pointed you to Strobist, which is the best place to get started to learn how to get the flash off the camera.

I'll also point you to Neil van Niekerk's superlative Web site where he tells you everything you ever needed and wanted to know about how to bounce a flash, as well as lots of great stuff about how to get the flash off the camera.

http://neilvn.com/tangents/

Effective use of flash has a weird learning curve. You start out with the pop-up flash, which works, is easy to use, but is ugly. Then you get into bounced flash and off-camera flash, which isn't hard to learn, but isn't intuitive and takes a bit of practice -- and which gives a huge quality boost. But to go from there to truly mastering flash...well, that takes a lifetime, and then some....

Cheers,

b&

triggermike

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Re: Speedlight for perfect night portraits
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2012, 05:57:25 PM »
+1 on Neil van Niekerk's website and his book - worth every cent.

AJ

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Re: Speedlight for perfect night portraits
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2012, 06:23:27 PM »
Read triggermike's #3 post carefully.  He's got the right method.

The only thing I would add is this: try to experiment with moving the flash off-camera.

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Re: Speedlight for perfect night portraits
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2012, 06:23:27 PM »

philsv77

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Re: Speedlight for perfect night portraits
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2012, 06:37:17 PM »
don´t be afraid of long exposure times, the flash will freeze you subject and  for  you background there is IS ;)

Yes, thanks for another post mentioning about high ISO.  With 5d3, dont be afraid to go for high ISO up to 3000.  Also, agree with the suggestion on Van Neil's books. 

pdirestajr

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Re: Speedlight for perfect night portraits
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2012, 04:29:02 PM »
I have the most success shooting my speedlights with my camera on M. The shutter speed now really only affects the ambient light- which gives you a ton of creative control. The aperture/ ISO will affect the intensity of the flash.
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philsv77

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Re: Speedlight for perfect night portraits
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2012, 08:37:03 PM »
Folks already mentions lot of resources, check out strobist.blogspot.com.  I attach a photo of my kids taken at (I think ISO 1000) with off-camera flash.  I'm using 5d2

Enjoy & good luck!


risc32

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Re: Speedlight for perfect night portraits
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2012, 09:50:51 PM »
like was said above, use manual for the utmost control of the ambient(background) and flash light balance. But if you don't have time for that use "P" mode, and bounce the flash. if you have nothing to bounce against, and you always do indoors, use a bounce card. "Av" mode can work(i'm not going to add what might be confusing info) but i don't recommend to to you because the shutter speed will be far to long and you'll get lots of motion blur, form the camera and living subjects.

Timothy_Bruce

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Re: Speedlight for perfect night portraits
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2012, 07:56:27 AM »
Not  that type of portrait you might want to take, but basically it works the same way.
I have a link to some Pictures for you... I hope it is not  to complicated for you too view.
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.344218652339492.81001.167918769969482&type=3#!/media/set/?set=a.344218652339492.81001.167918769969482&type=3

In Manual  ISO 500  F2,8 ettl-Flash FEC +1  with on Camera Flash with round Diffuser and off camera Flash with the same type
on the next picture you can see one ( at that time intentionally not triggered )
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=344224405672250&set=a.344218652339492.81001.167918769969482&type=3&theater#!/photo.php?fbid=344224405672250&set=a.344218652339492.81001.167918769969482&type=1&theater

Feel free to look into some other nights and ask what ever come onto you mind ;)
« Last Edit: September 25, 2012, 03:25:31 PM by Timothy_Bruce »

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Re: Speedlight for perfect night portraits
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2012, 07:56:27 AM »