November 10, 2011

Bonus: The two other things that make this photo

There’s more to a good snapshot than the background.

Yes, yes, I’m being ironic. Often, when we take a quick shot of friends at a party, we let the flash light them up and everything around them turns out pitch black. The other day, we talked about ways we can get the background to show up in all its glory (see the above photo).

So what do you do when it’s dark and you want the stuff in the front to show up too? You add in a little light with your flash. When I took the photo above, I had nice surrounding light from streetlamps and these little strobe lights sitting at the base of tombstones in my graveyard.

The problem was, you couldn’t see the stuff in the front – like the tree. So what I did was this. I turned the flash on, played with the amount of power it blasted out and the above photo is what I got.

It may seem complicated, but it’s really straightforward. Set up your shutter speed to let in the background light, then add in some flash for the front. Tweak the flash in front (settings should be on your camera) and you’re good to go.

One thing. You’re going to need to pick a white balance for your shot, and if you’re using “daylight” (my recommendation), your flash is going to look pretty white. Want to warm it up? Put a little piece of translucent orange tape overtop of the flash to warm up the colour – and warm up the things in front of your photo. Just be sure the tape isn’t too orange (lest everybody look like they have a bad tan.).

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