Long Exposure Portraits?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by JohnnyL, Nov 21, 2009.

  1. JohnnyL

    JohnnyL TPF Noob!

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    Hi guys, I photograph for a skateboard shop over here in Shanghai , China. I've been given an assignment by them to get pictures of their new team. I got full control of everything from the location to the color clothes they wear on that day so I'm trying to get ideas on what I can do.

    I'm thinking shooting the team at night would be more unique than the regular day group portrait shots. First thing that came to mind was since it's busy Shanghai , I'll photograph the team with a long exposure busy highway background. Then comes the problem , long exposure and portraits? Wouldn't the subject ( the team ) be motion blurred? How can I do this?

    Just some additional information , the group is of three , I do have a flash and I'd like to make the best team portrait ever!

    Thanks! Any suggestion or advice would really be appreciated!

    --------------------
    5 december
    Now the results!
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2009
  2. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Only if they move during the exposure, or if the camera moves during the exposure.

    However, if you use strobed light set to sync with the rear/second curtain of the shutter......
     
  3. christm

    christm TPF Noob!

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    Another option is if they are skating along against a row or traffic then the traffic lights would be blurred as long as you kept the same speed and exact framing all the way through.

    Another option is to photoshop it.
     
  4. Pugs

    Pugs TPF Noob!

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    This...
     
  5. IgsEMT

    IgsEMT No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Long exposures = how long, 1/30 or 1/15 you might get away, USING flash of course. Anything slower, you'll probably get blur.
    What you could try to do is something like 1/10 with a flash as they skate by you - flash will freeze the main action while you'll still get the trail of movement. Preferably if you're using tripod.
     
  6. Pugs

    Pugs TPF Noob!

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    Oh, and if you have them wear darker colors, that will help diminish the appearance of motion blur. Have them wear something darker and non-reflective with a rear-curtain sync, and that should help with the longer exposure times.
     
  7. JohnnyL

    JohnnyL TPF Noob!

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    I forgot to say , I want the portrait of them just posing there. They won't be skating around. I was thinking of long exposures like 5 to 10seconds.

    Heres what I just thought of. I set the camera on the tripod , say 10second exposure. I release the shutter telling them not to move and a few seconds later ( I don't really know whens the best time ) I use my flash off shoe and fire it at them using the test button.

    Would this work out?

    Also , it's just a cheap flash without variable power or sync option..
     
  8. molested_cow

    molested_cow No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I've got an idea for long exposure action shots, but it's hard to explain.... I'll try.

    Pick a background that shows the moving lights, such as cars, people etc on the streets.
    Plan how you want the skateboarder to move through the frame so that you can capture the right moment while you set your camera on a tripod for the shot.
    Set up dim lights to illuminate the skateboarder as he moves.
    Use bulb mode with a remote. Start the exposure just before the skateboarder moves into the frame.
    Flash the skateboarder at where you want to capture the right moment.

    The result will be the skateboarder frozen in action, with motion because of the dim light that lit him up just enough to leave ghost images, while you capture moving cars and pedestrians in the background. You will have to find out the perfect aperture setting by trial and error. This is essentially shutter speed priority except you control the exposure time.
     
  9. thoughtcryme

    thoughtcryme TPF Noob!

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    The only problem with any of this that I can see is that putting equal focus on the subject and background is fundamentally unsound.
    It results in a busy composition that rarely works out as intended.

    What is the viewer looking at? The skater, or the lights in the background?
    If you want to make the images pop more, you could try experimenting with depth of field.
    And/or stylize it with a digital silver retention or cross process variation.
     
  10. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Only if you have the lens stopped way down and that will likely cost you some sharpness of the image.

    Telling them not to move and them not actually moving is another matter.

    At 10 seconds you'll likely get enough ambient light for an exposure. Any light added from a speedlight will overexpose the image.

    Your need to set up some days before hand and discover, by trial and error, the settings that will work for you.
     
  11. Buckster

    Buckster Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    As long as they're in the dark while you're making the long exposure, and aren't lit by ambient light, it should work out fine. As long as it's really dark where they're posing, you should be able to open up the aperture and have a pretty long exposure without a problem.

    Where it gets weird is if they move. Then, if there's anything lit behind them, it will ghost 'through' them, like a double exposure would do. If they move a little, it'll ghost around their edges. If they move a lot, it'll ghost through more. So do what you can to prevent that - get them comfortable, or get something dark right behind them.

    Here's an example of a long exposure (176 seconds) @ f/3.5 where the subject (me) doesn't blur because I'm in the dark, never exposed to ambient light, and only lit by the strobe for an instant:

    [​IMG]

    What at first looks like a blur on my knee is actually the shadow of my arm. The strobe was between the two trees, pointed at me, and another was to camera left, just to provide a little bit more fill for the scene.
     
  12. JohnnyL

    JohnnyL TPF Noob!

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    Hi Buckster , thanks for your reply. However , I think there will be ambient light from the shops , cars and street lamps but this is still a great trick which I will try but incase it's not dark enough and it doesn't work , I should have another trick up my sleeve.

    Lets say I get them posed , I stand to the side holding my slave flash and then trigger the shutter. Within the few seconds after the flash and shutter has fired , I get them out of the frame. So now , the shutter is still open getting the good long exposures and I don't need to worry about motion blur since they're already out. Will this work?
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2009

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