Exercise 2.9 A night portrait

04th November 2019

Make a full-length figure portrait, like the one below, which was exposed for about 7 minutes. But also use flash, high ISO and street lights, aim to create three finished night photographs, although you’ll need to make many more exposures that that to ensure success.

OCA Foundation in photography Course folder pg82

I managed to get one evening where it was dry enough to go out in the garden and shoot some photographs for this exercise. What happens? The neighbours do not like us out there in the dark and switch their beam light on, ‘some neighbours do ‘ave ’em!’ and we are one of the lucky ones! Anyway, I managed to get some shots of garden lights and flash. I had also planned more garden shots – complete darkness shots, torch shots, candle shots all experimenting with flash and change of ISO.

Below are the two contact sheets which show firstly, trials with the garden light and flash only and then with the subject. I have noticed that I positioned the subject far too near the light source so it was too bright. I will have a second try at this combination but step the subject back further away from the light to make sure that she isn’t over exposed as much.

  • Image 5 – f4.8, SS 3.2, ISO 200
  • Image 7 – f8, SS 8.0, ISO 200
  • Image 15 – f22, SS 6.0, ISO 6400
  • Image 17 – f22, SS 7.0, ISO 25600

You can see the differences within each image dues to the alterations in the cameras settings. If we compare image 5 and image 7 which were both shot with ISO 200, by decreasing the aperture size but increasing the time it was open we have more details from the light source showing in the trees in the background.

If we compare image 16 and image 17 with images 5 and 7 we can see the increase in light which bleaches out parts of the photographs but highlights the trees more. The grain is also very recognisable in both photographs but especially within image 17.

Once I had completed the trial with the lights and the camera settings, and reviewed them, I continued with using my subject as the main focus point. However, what I did not think about was the placement of my subject and I placed her far too near the light source which did not help my experimentations much as she was already quite over exposed by the direct light source aimed at her even before the flash was used. The results can be seen in the images below.

I actually prefer the image on the left as the contrast between the light and dark areas provide a much more aesthetic look. The flash also begins to bleach the subject out which was already quite heavily lit. The colours within image 22 are also very warmer due to the fact that within image 21 the flash has added a colder white light.

In the last two images that I have chosen to review, we can see that the exposure is very similar to Images 21 and 22 except that they are showing a slight increase in details due to the extra light. What we can see however which is particularly noticeable when comparing the images, is the amount of grain that is showing. Having used a high ISO of 25600, the grain is very evident.


02nd December 2019

It looks like with this exercise it will be about adding photographs as I shoot them so it will be out of time line.

Shooting at night is difficult because of my PTSD and being scared I will bump into my DV abuser as he lives in town. However, I do go out in the evenings with people on special occasions so it is on these occasions I can shoot for this exercise, but it does depend on the dates so it is an add as you go exercise.


03rd December 2019

I cannot believe, having just re-read this post, that the entry above has an opening sentence of, ‘I am still having to research about the use of the flash believe it or not.’ help! I am going to start this entry with the same. I am STILL having trouble using my flash. I managed to bribe the girls with tea at Jesters diner if they would let me take some photographs of them in the dark with light sources and without, so that I could finish this fill-flash exercise. 

I managed to begin the shoot but then there was nothing, I couldn’t get the flash to work yet it had new batteries in it. I managed the first set of shots that I can put in this post but a big ALAS, I wanted to have more than a handful of shots for each exercise on this course.

The below few shots taken tonight to show how the fill flash works are below:

Initial shot without flash: ISO 3200 f3.5 SS1/15
Minimum flash setting: 1/1
Medium flash setting: 1/64
Maximum flash setting: 1/128

Although I did not get to complete more shots in this scenario at least the images obtained showed three distinct flash setting, minimum, medium and maximum. With this we are able to see the difference in the light emerging from the flash and how it effects the night portraits.

The second shoot that I wanted to complete was my daughters portraits within different street lamp settings. I was hoping to obtain some long exposures with blurring, long exposures with flash and then a combination of flash outputs, again to see how each setting affects the images taken. I managed to get only the one before the camera would take no more photographs.

Multiple light sources – mobile phone and street lamp with flash. IS0 800 f3.5 SS11

As you can see in the above photograph the hue of the image is dominated by the orange glow of the street lamp. However if we look close at both of the girls faces their mobile phones do shine in their faces. The flash adds to the overall effect of the image by lightening the orange glow and lighting the background more than it was lit by the available light of the lamp.

I will need to go and try some more shots under the lamp to satisfy my curiosity of how each image would have looked with different flash settings. I will also need to research about the camera and flash not firing tonight as this has happened on more than one night shoot and I do not know why.

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