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Lighting in low/ nearly none light situations
Hi There!.

I have often heard people talking about lighting selected portions during a night scene through use of certain lighting techniques. I was looking at a picture in the D40 forum where the poster has lighted the foreground which was very dark, when taking photo of a skyline of a certain place at night..

Sorry if my question is dumb or the terminology used is incorrect - but if it makes sense, would be great to know how is it done, when should it be done and so on..

Thanks!P..

Comments (8)

Geekybiz wrote:.

Hi There!I have often heard people talking about lighting selected portionsduring a night scene through use of certain lighting techniques. Iwas looking at a picture in the D40 forum where the poster haslighted the foreground which was very dark, when taking photo of askyline of a certain place at night..

Sorry if my question is dumb or the terminology used is incorrect -but if it makes sense, would be great to know how is it done, whenshould it be done and so on..

Sounds like a flash was used to illuminate the foreground.Best wishesMike..

Comment #1

Ok. So here's the thing - lets say I am trying to capture a downtown skyline at night - this would require very slow shutter speed - lets say 10 seconds - now if there are lets say rocks or just dark surface in foreground to this view - the foreground ends up appearing dark - would just having the flash on work in this case? (since the shutter speed is of 10 secs)?..

Comment #2

Depending on your camera and your flash....

Lots of camers are designed so that you can set Aperture Priotity while using flash..

The camera will pick a shutter speed, and you're right, it could be pretty long..

When the shutter is pressed, the flash will go off, illuminating the foreground, and then the shutter will stay open as the background is exposed for the long time necessary..

GETTING FANCIER you can take a regular flash gun and hold it in your hand or put it on a tripod, and point it at the important subject in the foreground. Good flash guns have buttons on them you can press to set them off..

By adjusting power levels and placement, you can take a long exposure for the background, and use the flash to illuminate the foreground..

By running around, you can even set the flash off several times, pointed at different things, while the shutter remains open for the background..

BAK..

Comment #3

Geekybiz wrote:.

Ok. So here's the thing - lets say I am trying to capture a downtownskyline at night - this would require very slow shutter speed - letssay 10 seconds - now if there are lets say rocks or just dark surfacein foreground to this view - the foreground ends up appearing dark -would just having the flash on work in this case? (since the shutterspeed is of 10 secs)?.

Yes - see BAK's post above. In the example you give, the skyline will be lit by the downtown building lights and you can set the exposure for this with your camera's metering (let's say 10 seconds at f/8). But the foreground immediately in front of you has no lighting and will be black..

If you fire the flash, at any point during the 10 seconds, the foreground will be lit ONLY by the flash (very briefly). Conversely the background (skyline) will not be affected by the flash which will much too weak to reach that far. So your foregroud will be lit ONLY by the flash (very brief) and your background will be lit ONLY by the buildings (for all of the 10 second exposure)..

It is a fairly simple matter to balance these so that both foreground and background are correctly exposed. They key is to remember that the foreground exposure is affected only by the f-stop, not the shutter speed, because the flash duration is so short..

Suppose your meter tells you that the correct exposure for the skyline is 10 secs at f/8. Fine. But when you fire the flash the foreground may be underexposed because not enough light from the foreground is reaching the sensor in your camera. So increase the aperture to f/4 which will let in 4x more light from the flash burst (foreground) because the lens is wider open. This will make the skyline overexposed so decrease the shutter speed by two stops to compensate (to 2.5 seconds). *This will make no difference to the foreground* which is in darkness for nearly all of the exposure when the flash is off.



Best wishesMike..

Comment #4

This is 30 sec exposure during full moon night with dim flashlight help to illuminate driftwood at foreground..

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Here street lamp was used as additional light source to balance bright moonlight at background.

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This is long exposure shot with flash to stop snow flakes in air..

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Http://www.stan-pustylnik.smugmug.com..

Comment #5

External flash with 10 sec exposure:.

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Http://www.stan-pustylnik.smugmug.com..

Comment #6

Stan-P had some great examples. To his point, you can use almost any light source you want to illuminate, accentuate or focus attention on a foreground artifact in a long exposure situation. Flash/Strobe set to manual and pointed, bounced or diffused, flashlights, even car headlights if nothing else presents it self. I have even taped cardboard boxes fashioned as snoots or box with egg crate on to the front of my car to control and direct light in these kinds of situations. It doesn't need to be fancy, just experiment..

Try it in your backyard at dusk and a lawn chair and light it up with a Mag Lite and experiment with Aperture, Exposure and shutter speed, until you get what you want using the Mag Lite and then start over experimenting with manual flash.Its all quite fun...

Comment #7

BAK, Mike and wchp - thanks for your explanation - seems to make sense - I am all set to give it a try and get a hang of it. What you say Mike appears to make some sense and would make better sense as I jump into the field and get going..

Stan_p - awesome examples - they make good sense - looks like a lot of experimentation and experience would help me determine how to selectively light a certain portion of a dark part for the photo to stand apart..

Thanks all - am on my way for some night time photography! .

P..

Comment #8

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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