low light portraits


TPF Noob!
Oct 1, 2006
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I am starting to expand my portfolio, and I am going to be doing a photo shoot for a person of asian decent. I am looking for more experience in fashion/model work. I thought that the perfect kinda shoot would be downtown here, and in the early evening. Its often rainy here, or wet, and I envision the wet streets to look good with the lights from the city core, to give a kinda mysterious look....?

I was wondering what tips you could give me, or thoughts on this, to help me create the look I want. I have a basic set-up, im slowly working on getting more stuff. I have the Canon XTi w/ 2 kit lenses, flash, slave eye, tripod and several filters.

I am not very comfortable with flash photography, and I dont want to blow out my subject. I want interesting shadows and contrast and a good play of light - so that the subject isnt totally in the dark either. I also dont want blurry images.

Help? Ideas? Thoughts? THANX!:thumbup:

You're not comfortable with flash photography while trying to take a photo of a subject which won't be perfectly still in poor lighting, with a camera which has poor High-ISO noise levels.

This will be very frustrating to get right. Especially if your goal is fashion shoots. Remember it's about the cloths, they need to be tac sharp or the shot won't work.
To get good fashion shots you need good lighting. Buy one or too studio flashes (they can be pretty small and cheap) and umbrellas and maybe a softbox. POOF! Better lighting. Also shoot RAW. RAW gives you the possibility to actually lower your exposure afterwards as RAW is pure information and not a "real" image like JPG. Try to do some more reading about RAW if you haven't. It is essential for fashion photography as the retouching is a big part of the image. When shooting with studio flashes, try to always have your shutter speed at 1/125 and only adjust the aperture.
Low lighting anythihng = high noise and often motion blur. There is no reason to accept that when a VERY reasonable single off camera flash on a stand fixes all those issues.

I've seen some amazing shots done with a single off camera flash.

Personally, at this point in my learning curve, I am getting more fun playing with light (single and multiple strobes), than about anything else.
If you are uncomfortable with flash you should really look into strobist.com They have a lighting 101 section (it's FREE). They also have a great section on Flikr where you can ask questions.

Like others have said, lighting is probably the 2nd most important thing in the type of shots you want to do (clothing be 1st). Lighting is fun once you start getting into it.
For low light portraits i would recommend you twothings:

-Not to use flash (makes an unnatural effect)
- Buy a really fast lens.

If you are shooting with a digital camera, then I would recommend you to buy a 50mm/f1.4. They are pretty cheap and really fast. This lens also give excellent results so i think you would be pretty happy with it.

Also, you could use a high ISO but that makes to much "noise" in the picture...for a portrait would make the wrong impression.

I hope I have been useful enough. Good luck!
For low light portraits i would recommend you twothings:

-Not to use flash (makes an unnatural effect)

Gotta disagree with the flash making it look unnatural. I think it looks natural (or better) if done correctly (and I'm not an expert).

See the stobist.com or this month issue of digital photography. Bounce, diffusion, gels, and a good understanding of white balance should equal success. But once again I'm not an expert but had good luck even with the baby SB400 making my potraits looks natural. Will be moving to up to the SB600 in the near future to be able to get angled bounce, more reach, and off camera capability.

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