Find the light at night

NPhoto - - Nikon Skills -

1 Find the light

When shoot­ing por­traits out on the streets af­ter dark, there will be lit­tle pock­ets of light here and there that can be used to light the face. We came across this spot­light af­ter a few min­utes of walk­ing around a city cen­tre. Its power and an­gle were per­fect for our needs.

3 Set the max aper­ture

We open our aper­ture to its widest set­ting to al­low the most amount of light through. With the 70-200mm lens here we can open up to f/2.8. A wide aper­ture also cre­ates a shal­low plane of fo­cus, which cre­ates taste­fully blurred back­ground bokeh.

5 Look to the light

Of­ten, street light­ing comes from above, so an up­wards tilt of the chin can make the light fall in a more flat­ter­ing way across the face. You can ask your sub­ject to an­gle their body to­wards the light and lift the face to­wards it.

2 Use high ISOs

We need to keep the shut­ter speed around 1/100 to 1/200 sec, as any slower and we’re likely to have cam­era or sub­ject shake. Here we’re in Man­ual mode with ISO set to Auto, which means it’ll adapt to the scene. In this low-light set­ting our ISO hov­ered around 6400.

4 Me­ter off the face

When a frame is largely dark, as is of­ten the case with night-time por­traits, then your cam­era’s me­ter can be fooled into over­ex­pos­ing the scene. If it does, con­sider us­ing spot me­ter­ing, or dial in ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion to darken down the im­age.

6 Back­ground bokeh

Car lights, traf­fic signs and any other small spots of light­ing will be trans­formed into silky smooth, colour­ful bokeh when out-of-fo­cus. The longer the lens, the more we com­press the per­spec­tive, so these larger colour­ful spots ap­pear.

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