Start learning with our library of video tutorials taught by experts. Get started

Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light
Illustration by

Shooting flash portraits at night


From:

Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light

with Ben Long

Video: Shooting flash portraits at night

I said at the beginning of this course that this was not a course on flash shooting or lighting, that we're going to be working with natural light, and that's still true. Nevertheless, flash is one way of dealing with a low-light situation. It's a complicated subject and we're still not going to do a flash course, but there is one simple thing you can do to really improve your flash photos in low light, and I want to show that to you now. The problem with flash is that it has limited range. Anything outside of the range of the flash is going to be darkness. When you shoot with your flash, the camera exposes for the level of illumination that your flash is producing and so anything within that cone of light that the flash makes will be well exposed.
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 27s
    1. Welcome
      2m 27s
  2. 6m 20s
    1. What can you shoot in low light?
      2m 17s
    2. What you need for this course
      4m 3s
  3. 28m 54s
    1. Working with exposure parameters in low light
      1m 13s
    2. Working with image sensors in low light
      4m 35s
    3. Working with shutter speed in low light
      3m 3s
    4. Considering motion blur
      1m 14s
    5. Working with ISO in low light
      2m 29s
    6. Assessing your camera's high ISO capability
      4m 52s
    7. Working with in-camera noise reduction
      2m 4s
    8. Working with aperture in low light
      2m 10s
    9. Understanding dynamic range
      2m 2s
    10. Working with color temperature and white balance
      1m 11s
    11. Exposing to the right
      4m 1s
  4. 34m 39s
    1. Introduction
      1m 36s
    2. Talking with Steve Simon about low-light photography
      13m 46s
    3. Shooting by candlelight
      1m 55s
    4. Choosing a mode
      4m 34s
    5. Exploring the role of lens stabilization
      3m 1s
    6. White balance considerations
      3m 27s
    7. Flash considerations
      1m 18s
    8. Problem solving
      1m 35s
    9. Understanding aesthetics and composition
      3m 27s
  5. 30m 4s
    1. Introduction
      2m 20s
    2. Preparing for the shoot
      5m 25s
    3. Act I: adjusting to the light
      3m 48s
    4. Intermission: reviewing the strategy
      1m 53s
    5. Act II: moving to the back of the house
      2m 35s
    6. After the show: lessons learned
      1m 18s
    7. Reviewing the performance images
      12m 45s
  6. 19m 18s
    1. Shooting in the shade
      2m 55s
    2. Street shooting
      2m 52s
    3. Shooting flash portraits at night
      4m 5s
    4. Controlling flash color temperature
      2m 50s
    5. Adjusting exposure to preserve the mood
      2m 34s
    6. Dynamic range considerations
      4m 2s
  7. 41m 0s
    1. Shooting lingering sunsets
      1m 42s
    2. Exploring focusing strategies
      5m 17s
    3. Composing and focusing at night
      10m 42s
    4. Shooting the stars
      9m 27s
    5. Practicing low-light landscape shooting
      9m 55s
    6. Focusing on the horizon in low light
      3m 57s
  8. 13m 4s
    1. Light painting: behind the camera
      7m 34s
    2. Light painting: in front of the camera
      2m 13s
    3. Manipulating long shutter speeds
      3m 17s
  9. 1h 4m
    1. Correcting white balance
      8m 49s
    2. Correcting white balance with a gray card
      3m 50s
    3. Correcting white balance of JPEG images
      2m 0s
    4. Blending exposures with different white balances
      7m 13s
    5. Brightening shadows
      9m 8s
    6. Reducing noise
      7m 44s
    7. Sharpening
      9m 14s
    8. Correcting depth-of-field issues
      9m 32s
    9. Correcting night skies
      6m 39s
  10. 53s
    1. Goodbye
      53s

Watch this entire course now—plus get access to every course in the library. Each course includes high-quality videos taught by expert instructors.

Become a member
please wait ...
Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light
4h 0m Intermediate Mar 29, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Join photographer and teacher Ben Long as he describes the tools, creative options, and special considerations involved in shooting with a DSLR camera at night or in low-light conditions, such as sunset or candlelight. The course addresses exposure decisions such as choice of aperture and shutter speed and how they impact depth of field and the camera’s ability to freeze motion.

Ben also shows how to obtain accurate color balance in tungsten and fluorescent lighting situations, and how to postprocess the images in Photoshop to remove noise caused by higher ISO settings. He also demonstrates accessories that can greatly expand your low-light photography options.

Topics include:
  • Understanding how low light affects exposure, shutter speed, color temperature, and more
  • Preparing for a low-light shoot
  • Shooting in dimly lit rooms
  • Using the flash indoors
  • Shooting in the shade
  • Taking flash portraits at night
  • Controlling flash color temperature
  • Focusing in low light
  • Light painting
  • Manipulating long shutter speeds
  • Correcting white balance
  • Brightening shadows
  • Sharpening and noise reduction
Subjects:
Photography Photography Foundations Night + Low Light Lighting
Author:
Ben Long

Shooting flash portraits at night

I said at the beginning of this course that this was not a course on flash shooting or lighting, that we're going to be working with natural light, and that's still true. Nevertheless, flash is one way of dealing with a low-light situation. It's a complicated subject and we're still not going to do a flash course, but there is one simple thing you can do to really improve your flash photos in low light, and I want to show that to you now. The problem with flash is that it has limited range. Anything outside of the range of the flash is going to be darkness. When you shoot with your flash, the camera exposes for the level of illumination that your flash is producing and so anything within that cone of light that the flash makes will be well exposed.

Anything outside of it is off limits and dark. Let me show you a practical example of what I mean. I've got Josh over here. I'm going to take his picture. I'm turning my flash on. I'm at ISO 100. I'm in program mode, so I'm just going to let the camera decide what to do. Now we have some additional, artificial lighting on me right now. So I'm going to ask Greg to turn that off for a second. Greg, could you hit the lights? Thanks. And I'm framing Josh against the background of this cityscape here and taking a flash picture, and this is what we've got.

It's Josh against a dark limbo background. You can see one or two lights, but it's nothing like what I'm seeing right now, which is Josh and a whole town. So how can I get that whole town? Well you know already that when it gets darker you need a longer shutter speed. But again, my camera exposed for the flash level of illumination. It used a very quick shutter speed, one that was too quick to properly expose the background. But my flash only has a range of about 10 to 15 feet and the town is way out of range of my flash. So I what I am going to do is something called slow sync flash.

That's going to fire the flash to illuminate Josh, but it's going to do a long exposure to capture the background. Your camera may have a special mode for slow sync flash called night portrait mode. It would be an actual thing on your mode dial. My camera does not have that. Whether your camera has it or not, you can force your camera to slow sync by simply putting it in shutter priority mode and dialing in a long shutter speeds. So again I am at ISO 100. I've dialed up 4-second exposure. So this is just like taking a normal 4-second exposure.

I'm going to press the Shutter button. The shutter is going to open, stay open for four seconds. The flash is going to fire right away. That's going to illuminate Josh. Now I need to worry about camera shake, but I don't need to worry that much. The background is going to be soft and out of focus anyway. If that's a little blurry, that's not the end of the world. That's why I'm not using a tripod. So let me take that shot and you can see what it looks like. Greg, lights please. So I'm going to frame him the same. The camera is focusing, and I'm steadying my camera. I don't feel like that was particular steady, but it looks okay.

You can see here that Josh is illuminated and now I have background. Here's the image I have before, when it was just the flash, pretty much limbo behind him. Here's the image afterwards, with the long exposure. When you're doing this kind of shot, you need to be careful to warn your subject that you're going to do this. Most people's instinctive response to a flash is they smile, the flash goes off, and then they turn and walk away or they change their pose or whatever. In this case, he needed to stand there for four seconds. Now I could cut that time down by goosing my ISO.

If I put my ISO up to 200, that would get my long exposure down to two seconds, 400 will get me to 1 second, and so on. As I do that though, I might need to dial down the flash power using flash exposure compensation. Now we're getting into a lighting course. You can look those terms up on your own and see how to manipulate those. Slow sync flash though is an immediate way to get more realistic-looking low light pictures out of your flash. One last comment on these pictures. Notice that here in my final shot, Josh has one color temperature.

He's kind of white or bluish and the background is really yellow. That's because the camera has white balance for the flash. So what can I do to make those two different color temperatures equal? We're going to look at that in the next movie.

There are currently no FAQs about Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light.

 
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Upgrade to download files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.
Upgrade now


Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ.

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

join now Upgrade now

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.


Mark all as unwatched Cancel

Congratulations

You have completed Foundations of Photography: Night and Low Light.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


OK
Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferencesfrom the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Are you sure you want to delete this note?

No

Notes cannot be added for locked videos.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.


Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

   
submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.