Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lighting Tips #2 Night Shooting!!

Alright!! Some of the funnest stuff you can do is to shoot night photos so here are some tips to explain why your photos come out crappy not so great and how you can change that.

1. Everyone wants to take a photo of them in front of something at night, we have this all the time here in Las Vegas. The lights on the strip are awesome, so are all the statues and things outside the strip so you have these tourists who use their little cameras to take a photo, they get home and they have a a photo of a bunch of people in front of a black background Awwwww. You have to understand some light. Your camera is setting up for a flash photo, which is usually 1/60 at a 2.8 aperature. That is a standard for shooting with a flash, but what it is doing, is capturing just the light from the flash, not the light in the background.
How to fix it: I tried this out with my little point and shoot camera and I tried my manual settings and my automatic settings.
 On your camera you have a little picture of a person with a moon and the eiffel tower. This is your night shooting setting, if you use this you have to hold very still because it is changing the shutter speed to a 1/8 which will capture the light in the background as well as the light from your flash, so you will have a properly exposed photo. You can do the same thing with your manual settings, but the little night setting is pretty handy.

One more tip on this section, say you are taking a photo of something at night, like I've taken photos of hoover dam at night and you want one with you and your honey in it. Set up a tripod, and set your shutter speed to like 10 seconds and put your flash up. Put your camera on a timer, stand in the photo, once the flash goes off, run out of the photo. So the camera will only get a shot of you with the flash then it will have the rest of the time to absorb the light from your background image. It might take a couple tries, but it will look good.
Here is my wonderful model, my husband. This is with the automatic setting on my camera.

This is with the night setting on my camera, see how you can see more of the tree, now if I had some lights or something behind me then that would show up even better.
2. Painting with light: A really fun thing to do is essentially painting with light. You will need a tripod to set your camera on, then you set your camera to a long shutter time like 13 seconds. Next, get a flashlight. You can use the flash light on an object or on yourself. My friend Trina did this with a creepy house at night and it made it look very spooky. Here are my examples.

I turned the light on for a second, turned it off, moved, turned it on again so you get a ghost image. Cool huh?

I turned on my flash light in two different areas so it lit up my bench.

Here I did it from the bottom left corner and the bottom right corner so I got a good shadow in the background.

And here it is with my camera set to black and white.

Now you have a bunch of different options with this technique. You could use a warm toned flashlight and use it to draw on a building so it only catches where your light goes. You can also use this to write stuff in the air. Or you could make a creepy old looking photo of someone, you know have them laying on the ground or on a bench and then use the flashlight to highlight certain areas like their face and hands. That would be awesome!

Baby photo idea: So say you don't want a background with your baby photo, you could set up your camera, in a dark room with your tripod, put your cute sleeping baby on something soft, like fur or a crocheted blanket, set your shutter speed to some thing like 5 seconds and try out a couple different flashlights. The LED lights are cool blue tones, while the old school bulbs are warm. Just try shining the light on just the baby from above and count how long so do it for 1 second, next shot 2 seconds, next shot 3 seconds etc. So you can look at the photos and see how much light you like on them. Also check your camera settings, if you want the photo more natural toned and you use a warm toned flashlight, find the white balance setting on your camera this is the temperature of your light, set it for tungsten(looks like a light bulb) that will tone down the warmth of the photo.  Just make sure to zoom in on the baby or move the camera close so you have at least 1/3 of the photo is the baby. You should come out with a really great photo with a very easy setup. But you have to do it when they are asleep because otherwise they will move and you will get a blurred shot.

Alright, have fun trying this out and let me know how it goes or if you have other questions with this. It is a really fun technique that can yield surprising results. Have Fun!!


  1. Been so busy with Betty that this is the first chance I've had to get on your blog! I love the tips!!!!! I'm going to share my pics as soon as I try all the neat things you demonstrated! You are so talented.

  2. I just read that again! I'll probably read it several more times. Great ideas! I'm going to re-read all your photo tips. Oh, and the star cookies look great! I'm tired right now and I'm not up for logging in a separate comment! Haha!


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