Monday, January 4, 2010

Night Portraits

Last December my best friend from high school and her husband did a portrait session downtown Seattle at night. The carousel made for a nice backdrop. The exposure was 1/5 @ f5.0. The long shutter speed created the blur. The flash is what creates the stop action on the couple. One speedlight was on camera left and there was another on camera right behind the couple and several feet away. There is also a fill card and flash just below them to fill in any shadows. The flash is actually pointed down at the card so the light will bounce back.
When doing this kind of shot you'll need to use slow sync flash mode. Meter for the ambient light and flash. Set your shutter speed for the ambient reading and the aperture for the flash. While it's okay for your subjects to move a little, sudden fast moments will show up as a blur, so keeping still is helpful.

The toughest part of the shoot was working around the crowd. This is often an issue when shooting in busy public spaces. It's important to be aware of everything in the frame and place your subject accordingly. On occasion though, crowds can be helpful. Here's another blur shot of Anna and Hideo where the passing pedestrians add interest.
This shot was more difficult because I needed to make them look as if they were lit by street lights only and not flash. The single speedlight was placed on a 7 ft tall stand just out of frame on camera left. The exposure is 1/6 @ F6.3. The flash was set to match the ambient light meter reading.


  1. Wonderful portraits! I'd love to do some shots at a fair- I saw a couple that did their engagement photos at one once and it's such a cool idea. Great job!

  2. @ Moriah Cuda
    I love the fair! When I was first starting out I took a bride and groom to an amusement park for a similar kind of thing. I learned quickly that you need to watch your color balance since all of the ambient lights are not exactly "daylight balanced." It was great fun since a crowd quickly formed to watch us shoot.

  3. I love the fair too :) it makes me feel so happy and nostaligic. I'm hoping I can do my own engagement photos there, if the timing is right :)