Special effects are a great way to tell compelling stories through photography. Not only that, but many great effects are actually quite simple to accomplish on location. In this video, I’ll be demonstrating one of our signature portraits, the Day vs. Night in camera special effects photography technique.

Video: The “Day vs. Night” In Camera Special Effects Photography Technique

This is a sneak peek into our new SFX Photography on SLR Lounge Premium. There, we dive into how to create our signature in camera special effects photography and portraits such as the Ring of Fire. Meanwhile, let’s dive into the technique with what you’ll need:

  1. Wide Angle Lens
  2. Tripod
  3. 3-4 Stop ND Filter
  4. Strobe Light
  5. Grid + CTO

Step #1: Composition

My composition is quite simple. I used the plain white wall while keeping perfectly centered. My choice of camera is the Canon EOS R5 with the RF 28-70mm f/2. I’m also using the Peak Design Travel Tripod.

Step #2: Ambient Light

Our approach will differ a bit here since our goal is to have half of the image bright and the other half dark. I first set the exposure for the bright side without blowing out any highlights.

in camera special effects photography nd filter effect

Then, I held the ND in front of the lens to darken the left half of the image. I’m using the Tiffen Water White 1.2.

Step #3: Modify Light

in camera special effects photography adding flash

Our next step is to add some flash onto the dark half of the image. I have a Profoto B10 Plus with the CTO and Grid kit up on a stand just out of frame. I aimed the light directly at Will’s face. The grid will keep the light focused just on him.

Step #4: Photograph

in camera special effects photography final image
Edited with VF Presets > Crush Pack

We’ll combine everything now to get our final photo. Adjust the ND filter until it’s perfectly centered and this is our final result.


I hope you enjoyed this article/video. As you can see, in camera special effects photography is quite simple and easy to do! Next time you’re out on a couple’s portrait shoot, give this technique a try. For an inside look on how we do all of our signature portraits, head over to SLR Lounge Premium for our SFX Photography Course. In addition, check out VF Presets for intuitive lighting based presets such as our Crush Pack that we used for our final image.

Don’t miss our next episode of Mastering Your Craft on Adorama’s YouTube channel next week! If you want to catch up on all the episodes, make sure you check out our playlist!