Shoot por­traits af­ter dark

Use am­bi­ent street lights and an LED panel to light up your shots

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We of­ten think of twi­light as the most at­mo­spheric part of the day for pho­tog­ra­phy. How­ever, af­ter dark can also be a won­der­ful time to head out with the cam­era, es­pe­cially in a busy ur­ban set­ting. Coloured light­ing from shop win­dows, pass­ing traf­fic and neon sig­nage can make for in­ter­est­ing and unique back­drops when shoot­ing por­traits.

So in this project we’ll ex­plore a few tech­niques for por­traits af­ter dark. We’ll be­gin by look­ing at how to use avail­able lights around us, then we’ll go on to ex­plain how to sup­ple­ment the street lights with our own light­ing.

The big­gest hur­dle to over­come on a shoot like this is the dark. It means set­ting up our cam­era for low-light pho­tog­ra­phy. For a static sub­ject we could sim­ply use a tri­pod and elon­gate our shut­ter speed. But with por­traits we’re al­ways go­ing to be re­stricted, as a per­son can only stay per­fectly still for a mo­ment. In this sce­nario we need high ISOs and wide aper­tures. It’ll also help if you have a cam­era that per­forms well at higher ISOs (most mod­ern DSLRs will do) and a lens that of­fers a wide max­i­mum aper­ture.

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