BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Desiree Silva
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/11/2005

How to shoot subject outside, using flash at night

I was wondering if someone could help me out...I've been asked to photograph a friend's wedding in December. Okay, no problem. I've photographed a few other weddings, HOWEVER, this Bride has requested that I take a few shots of the Bride & Groom after the ceremony outside in the middle of the street -at night! What do I do?
I love challenges and was excited about this opportunity to try something different, but I'm having some doubts about the film speed I should use and the need to use flash, but also wanting the actual street to be showing in the picture and not just the two of them in pitch black!
Does anybody have an advice they could offer?
I'll be using my Pentax K1000 SLR camera and my wide 52mm lens with the classical 185 Vivitar Flash.
If someone could give a few pointers on the type of film speed I should use as well as the aperture and shutter speed, I would GREATLY appreciate it!!
Thank you,

To love this question, log in above
11/25/2005 11:27:30 AM

Bob Fately   Desiree, there are some realities to deal with here - and the short answer is that I don't think you will be able to accomplish what you want with the flash gear you've got. There may be another approach, though.

In essence, what you want is for the the street at night to have almost as much exposure as the subjects, right? That means the street scene will be discernable on the film as well as the B&G.

Now to do this with artificial lighting (i.e. - flash) means that you'd need some humungous flash units to basically light up the entire street. And unless you shoot for SPorts Illustrated, it's doubtful you have access to that kind of gear.

On the other hand, with a tripod and the cooperation of the B&G, you could try this: expose the street scene as a long exposure and the B&G with the flash. Set the camera on the tripod, and have the B&G stand as still as possible in whatever pose/position you desire. Open the shutter - the shutter speed being as long as necessary to get a proper (or underexposed) exposure of the background. Just before the shutter closes, fire off the flash to get the B&G properly exposed.

With any luck , if they hold still enough, and you work out the right combination of shutter speed and f-stop/flash then you will have essentially done an in-camera composit shot - getting the street as a very long exposure (during which time any slight movement of the B&G probably won't be picked up and then properly exposing the subjects with the flash.

I'd recommend trying this well in advance with some willing subjects to test out what f-stop/shutter speed combinations make sense (and take notes with each exposure so later you can figure out the best combo).

To love this comment, log in above
11/25/2005 3:11:02 PM

Desiree Silva
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/11/2005
  Thank you very much, Bob, for your help!
I'll definately be testing out your advice!
I"ll let you know how it turns out!!
All the best,

To love this comment, log in above
11/28/2005 8:29:34 AM

Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/13/2004
  Don't know anything about the K1000 or 185 (I have a 283 though). Well anyways meter your scene let's say f/8 or f/11. Depending on how much DOF you want go less but not too much more due to the fact that it's night already. Anyways....try some Portra 800 for the speed. Meter the scene. Let's say you get 1/2 @ f/8 you're alright. Also if you know how do what Bob said and set your flash for 2nd curtain flash. This will cause it to flash when the shutter closes, not opens. Set your flash to f/8 (or whatever aperture you're using) and fire away. Also if you want a really old, vintage, grainy look you could get some B&W Kodak T-Max 400 and push it to 1600 (then push two stops for developing too). or for a crazy grainy (but beautiful in my opinion) try some TMax 3200! This will give you way better speeds and have an old 40's look to it! I can just imagine how great these would look, I wish you the best of luck with this. Tripod, you'll need it (almost forgot!). Umm anything else, hmmm. Use this as an opportunity and not a "crap here we go" typa deal. This will be fun! Best recommendation would be to grab a son/daughter/brother/sister, anyone! and go practice some before you do this. If you do get to go practice try and take a pen/paper and record the settings, or a voice recorder thing. You'll be fine, this will be fun!

To love this comment, log in above
11/28/2005 8:46:56 AM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.