Help! Night portraits with Canon 50mm/1.4 lens?

Discussion in 'Canon Lenses' started by Shrizzle, Feb 19, 2017.

  1. Shrizzle

    Shrizzle TPF Noob!

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    Hi guys,
    I'm still kind of beginner. I have the Canon t41 and I just bought the 50mm/ 1.4 lens. I would love to shoot night portraits with a nice bokeh effect. Like have the street lights in the background look beautifully blurred. Which are the best settings for that in manual mode? I can't quiet figure out the right ISO and shutter speed. I would appreciate your help! Thanks!


     
  2. Destin

    Destin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Nobody can tell you the proper settings as it depends on ambient light levels and conditions.

    However, if you expose for the lights to get clean bokeh that isn't washed out, your subject will be almost completely dark. This is a situation where you'll need some form of fill flash or off camera lighting to get the best results.
     
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  3. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Welcome! To blur the background (and foreground also, as it happens) you want to keep the aperture toward the wide end, so somewhere around the f/1.4 to f/2.8 should do the trick. As for the shutter speed, you will want no movement showing, so keep the shutter speed fairly high for hand-held shots, and let it stay open for longer if you mount your camera on a tripod.

    As for portraiture, you're going to have a hard time keeping your model in focus, because people can't hold perfectly still for a long time. (or even a short time, actually) If I was going to try portraiture, I might try a bit of added light just on the model, allowing the background to go dark so the lights will show up.

    The ISO will have to be what it has to be, so you can set the ISO to "auto", and don't be surprised if it goes off the scale because it probably will. If your camera handles under-exposure fairly well, then you'll have a useable shot, if not, it will be noisy and most likely not very good.

    In summary; aperture; around f/2.8, shutter speed 1/50 of a second or faster, ISO on auto, find a location where the background is pretty far back behind your model, ask your model to hold very still, focus on her eyes if you can, use a tripod if you can, use a little bit of flash if you can, and good luck!
     
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  4. table1349

    table1349 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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  5. KmH

    KmH In memoriam Supporting Member

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    Using a wide (fast) aperture (f/1.4 to f/2.8) with that short a focal length for portraiture (a relatively close point of focus distance) is going to make the depth-of-field (DoF) so shallow only a very shallow slice of the portrait subject will be in focus.

    Point of focus distance has more of an affect on DoF than does lens aperture when the lens aperture is 'fast'.
     
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  6. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Not sure what you're using for post processing but another option for photographing extreme light differences is a composite. The sample below I took in December and is composed of 6 different exposures. Each contributes a part to the image, that was unattainable in a single shot.

    Christmas house 2016 web.jpg
     
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  7. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I used to do night portraiture in ther 1980's using slow color slide film of ISO 100. Typical expopsures in the city would be f/8 at ISO 100 film speed, and 15 to 20 seconds, with some street lamps providing most of the light. In dimmer areas, at ISO 400, it would be 30 seconds. The "portrait" part would be when I would zip the subject into the frame, and fire a single Pop! of electronic flash at them, usually a full-power 285HV pop from 10 to 15 feet or so. This is, in effect two exposures: a timed-exposure shot for the cityscape, and a flash shot for the person.

    Look into the subject of light painting for more information on this method.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017
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  8. Shrizzle

    Shrizzle TPF Noob!

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    Thank you so much! That really helped. I will probably get a tripod now :) And see what lightroom can do for me.
     

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