Flash Photography at Night

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WelshChris
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Flash Photography at Night

Post by WelshChris » Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:36 am

Each year I’ve just shot with available light at night. I’ve seen friends’ photos using smartphones and compacts where flash has been used and it’s picked up all the dust in the air.

Does anyone here use flash to light their subjects at night - what’s your experience with the dust being exposed?

Cheers

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Drizzt321
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Re: Flash Photography at Night

Post by Drizzt321 » Mon Aug 20, 2018 3:18 pm

You're going to get dust via flash, no way around it. Perhaps way out by the trash fence UP WIND from the event you'll get fairly clear air. Or you could use minimal light, or bright light from far away and small aperture and long exposure (good luck staying still 0.5s and get a clear shot. It's that the flash is so bright that it picks out all the dust. Less light, but longer exposure, and you don't see as much light while still getting a good shot. If your subject(s) can stand perfectly, completely still that long.

WelshChris
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Re: Flash Photography at Night

Post by WelshChris » Tue Aug 21, 2018 7:08 am

Thanks. I am considering bouncing it into a large scrim, perhaps an unbleached muslin. Underexpose the flash; second curtain. Slow shutter... and yes, definitely a tripod!

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Drizzt321
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Re: Flash Photography at Night

Post by Drizzt321 » Tue Aug 21, 2018 9:24 am

Maybe, but probably not. Even in underexposed flash it's still a large amount of light. If you could extend it to 1/100 and out to 0.5-1 second you probably wouldn't pick up too much dust. The dust is pretty reflective. Or get next to an art car with poofers and wait until they fire off. Listen for the tell-tale hiss of the gas starting it's release and the fire will be just a moment off.

vlajim
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Re: Flash Photography at Night

Post by vlajim » Thu Aug 23, 2018 10:47 am

My best playa night photos were done without flash. Just the people walking around stirs up enough dust a make flash photography very difficult. If I were to try again I would use a handheld flash, held away from the camera. GOOD LUCK, hope to see everyone Tuesday night.

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Canoe
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Re: Flash Photography at Night

Post by Canoe » Thu Aug 23, 2018 8:56 pm

Even underexposing the flash, the inverse-square law shows the flash intensity at distance. Whatever the flash exposure is at your subject, the dust that is halfway between them and the flash will have four times the light intensity. Half that again, and it's sixteen times the light intensity. So the further away your subject is, the more of the dust that will be getting nuked upwards. Doesn't matter what you use to soften the light, the spectularity doesn't matter, it's the light intensity and its resulting exposure.

If you're close enough to your subject, then there's less dust between you and them. And lots behind. Different effect depending on your aperture. Sometimes a neat effect. The wider open you are, the softer the focus on the dust behind the subject and between you and the subject. Sometimes the closer pieces look like bubbles all over your view. Try it. Mix it around. Yield will be low, but zero if you don't shoot.

There's a surprising amount of light out there. Do check your images as you shoot so you're not blowing the detail on the light that is there.
And don't be afraid to hand-hold and pan a moving subject, so the subject is sharp, or at least sharper than the background. (still or panning: elbows on your chest for support, hold the lens too, not just the camera body, and turn from the hips, don't press but squeeze the shutter button)
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BBadger
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Re: Flash Photography at Night

Post by BBadger » Fri Aug 24, 2018 12:25 pm

It may be counter-intuitive, but flashes are best used for fill light during daytime photos, and left off during the night. I like to dial back my exposure compensation by -2 or so to make the camera capture the brightness level that my eyes are reading at night, and to reduce the exposure time needed. The pictures look a lot better and more natural.

If your camera has the mode, there are some flash modes that'll do a short flash and then a longer exposure to attempt to get the best of both worlds, but I still don't like the snow effect it causes with lots of dust.
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WelshChris
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Re: Flash Photography at Night

Post by WelshChris » Sun Aug 26, 2018 7:34 am

Thank you for your contributions, everyone.

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