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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> night portraits
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02/24/2013 09:01:00 AM · #1
im am setting up a shoot with a model to maybe shoot some nighttime portraits, i will probably be in some downtown area so there is going to be some great opportunity for some colorful bokeh.

the problem is, i have never done this before and im not sure what kind of lighting i need.

don't worry, its not a paid shoot its a chance to practice. so has anyone done this before? how do you light a portrait at night without making it look like a snapshot?

i have off some camera lighting, but what the best method? soft box? i would nee a large one i think for a full body shot right? do i use more than one light with a reflector?





clearly the second has two lights, but what to use?

Message edited by author 2013-02-24 09:05:35.
02/24/2013 09:09:07 AM · #2
Well in terms of lighting the model it's not going to be much different to working in a studio. If you also want the scene lit it depends on just how dark it is. You could light elements of it (again it depends on the scene itself) with extra lights the way you would light a backdrop.
02/24/2013 09:37:46 AM · #3
Excuse me, sorry to interrupt....................but Mike someone has swapped your little piccie for that of a teenage boy.........just thought you should be aware.
02/24/2013 11:48:20 AM · #4
Originally posted by Tiny:

Excuse me, sorry to interrupt....................but Mike someone has swapped your little piccie for that of a teenage boy.........just thought you should be aware.

teenage boy? thanks for the compliment! any chance i get to look younger...
02/24/2013 08:59:48 PM · #5
I have some stuff in golden hour but nothing recent on a night shoot (not with models anyways). I have assisted for one though, and I've got some words:

When you say night time, you talking golden hour? or all dark just street lights?

If its the former, you're gonna need to bump the iso up some, but if you want to be super minimal, get to about where you want your exposure to be for your background , then fill in with flash from an angle(ideally with a mid sized soft box 24x24 will do fine)

If you're working with all street lights, things get a little more interesting. You may have to be a bit more selective with your placement because some times you can't compensate for color balance and can't overpower some shiny distractions with what you have. i really recommend 2+ Flashes (assuming decent speedlights at least)for this kinda setup so you have a bit more coverage. Depending on what kind of scene you've got going in your background, you can get a bit funky with gels here. If you want good details from your shadows at higher iso, make sure you've set your exposure with that in mind.

avoiding the snapshot look --> no direct flash on camera, if you gotta use your on camera flash, position your self to flag it and bounce it(you might need some power for this) off a surface (i got my cloth sheet and reflectors to help bounce and fill). Some would argue for flash brackets here, and being the owner of one, i personally prefer the bounced look. There s a few different ways to approach this so i recommend playing around with different options to see what you like.

you may find some store front lighting that also works great, and all you need to do there is fill.

Just in case, carry a weak flash light to get the model's eyes to not have that dilated look (she could just look at a light i guess, but better safe than sorry)

You're gonna want either an assistant or stands with sandbags (cops sometimes have issues with stands) if you're doing off camera flash. i get this may seem obvious, but i felt the need to say it -.-

Hope this is helpful

Message edited by author 2013-02-24 21:01:51.
02/24/2013 09:05:15 PM · #6
I have some limited experience with this.

Remember two things, your aperture and ISO control your subject who is being lit by the flash. Your ambient will burn in with your Shutter speed. Typically I will raise my ISO enough to try and shoot at what I can handhold the focal length at to get my background then match my light on my subject with what is required by light power, Aperture, and ISO.

I am not "most people" because I still do this stuff handheld. Most will tripod it and have their model stand still and use long shutter speed 1/15th or so for their ambient setting. Your flash will freeze your subject so that isn't a concern so much as keeping the background with good clean bokeh.

Typically I use fast glass F2.0 or faster for this.

Last time I shot this type of image, I used these settings and equipment. Nikon D4, ISO 1600, F1.8(F1.4 lens), SS of 1/30, flash with a 43Inch umbrella and I used 1/8 power. your flash power will be surprisingly low compared to what you think. You may also want to gel your flash to match your ambient.

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