Golden hour has just come to an end and the sky is slowly fading from a rich cyan to black, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to pack up your things and leave. Although natural light has its ethereal qualities, nighttime photography forces you to be a bit more creative now that you’re mainly working with artificial light sources.
Possible locations for night photography include downtown city locations, open fields with star visibility, or even beaches. Once the sky loses its color, it is time to whip out your off-camera flashes and constant LED’s to create some magic. Here are 6 ideas to try on your next nighttime session that come to us from our Unscripted series which you can download here for free:
Night Photography Tip/Idea 1: Simple, Soft, Diffused Flash
Since we are photographing subjects in darker scenes, our first step is to figure out how we want to illuminate our subjects. To get a soft wrap of light, place an umbrella in front of your off-camera flash. This gives you a beautiful diffused light source which avoids any harsh highlights on the skin.
Night Photography Tip/Idea 2: Constant Light
Using a constant LED light, like the Westcott Ice Light for example. is another alternative for illuminating your subjects when photographing in the night. While an OCF with an umbrella produces more of a diffused light, a constant light is a bit more portable and still gives you a smooth transition from light to shadow. The only issue with using an LED light is that it might not illuminate enough of the body, making it harder to get full body images. You also might face the issue of not having a strong enough source of light compared to an OCF where you can adjust the power.
Night Photography Tip/Idea 3: Whip Pan
The best part about shooting in the city is having plenty of ambient light available, especially in the dark. Using city lights as your backdrop, there are a plethora of possibilities to be created in-camera that are sure to wow your clients. Look for an area where city lights are visible, preferably closer to your subjects than further to increase the emphasis of the effect.
- Set your camera on a tripod and slow your shutter to around 1/2 second.
- Instruct your subjects to hold still.
- Set your flashes to Rear Curtain Sync to ensure that the subjects are flashed as the shutter closes.
- Loosen your tripod head and press the shutter, then quickly pan in one direction to capture streaks of light.
Night Photography Tip/Idea 4: Streaks of Light (Shutter Drag)
Long exposures are another easy trick to try for city photography. Capture the motion and movement of downtown cities by simply slowing down your shutter speed and freezing your couples with flash.
- Set your camera on a tripod and slow your shutter to around 1-5 seconds.
- Instruct your subjects to hold still or freeze them with flash.
Night Photography Tip/Idea 5: Backflash (Silhouette)
Silhouette images are both easy to create and impressive once executed. Simply place an off-camera flash behind your subjects and face it either toward a textured wall behind them or towards them. Make sure your camera settings allow for just enough ambient light to be seen surrounding your subjects.
Night Photography Tip/Idea 6: Backflash (Inner Warmth)
There really isn’t a technical term to describe this particular shot but the end result gives meaning to the phrase ‘inner glow’. This shot works best if one of your subjects is wearing white or a light color so that the flash can bounce off their shirt and be diffused. The tight composition and flash to ambient light balance really work together to create a unique and unforgettable image.
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