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12-12-2014, 08:14 PM   #1
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Studio Shot - Subjects with Bokeh Background (using Christmas Lights)

Hello,

With Christmas coming up, I had a family friend ask if I could take some pics of his daughter and her date (school dance). He was looking for a full body shot (his daughter and her date) where the background would be some Christmas lights that were blurred out (bokeh effect).

I'm having trouble trying to figure out how I would be able to pull this off. I did some test shots and there was way too much light falloff (from the flash) that would prevent the full bokeh effect. Anyone have any ideas? I plan on using an FA 50 1.4 lens.

I was thinking that it might have to be a composite shot... Any way to avoid this?

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12-12-2014, 08:23 PM   #2
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What is your thinking around the picture you posted?
12-12-2014, 08:33 PM   #3
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I don't really know, just guessing, but couldn't you use a telephoto so the flash wouldn't affect the lights in the back? Or just use some fill lights to brighten up the people? Something like a fluorescent light that doesn't have a long throw.
12-12-2014, 08:34 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
What is your thinking around the picture you posted?
The picture is just an example of the bokeh effect I'm looking to get. I know the circles wouldn't be that big, I'm going for that kind of circular effect with the lights. Getting this shot was easy because I used no flash (but the bottle isn't lit at all either). I just don't know how to have well lit subjects, with that type of effect in the background.

12-12-2014, 09:06 PM   #5
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You will want to:

-have your subjects as far from the background as you can get them
-use a telephoto lens of some kind, so you can fill the frame as much as possible with out of focus highlights
-shoot wide open for circular bokeh
-have your flash on very low power, to light your foreground but not your background
-use a very slow shutter speed, so your background lights will appear to as bright as possible

I speak from experience, having done such a shoot very recently. full body is going to be really, really tough, unless you are in a giant room, and have giant christmas lights.

When I was shooting, it was with an F4 lens. This was not really fast enough to make it easy to work with. f2.8 or faster would have been much better.
12-12-2014, 09:16 PM   #6
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A lot of how you approach this will depend on the lens used and how far you can get your subjects away from the background.

I kind of have a 'reverse' of what you're trying to pull off I managed a few years back, but in my case it was with a 28mm and the background subjects were a full room away.

I'm assuming this is sort of what you're after, only in reverse.

12-12-2014, 09:40 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by reivax Quote
Hello,

With Christmas coming up, I had a family friend ask if I could take some pics of his daughter and her date (school dance). He was looking for a full body shot (his daughter and her date) where the background would be some Christmas lights that were blurred out (bokeh effect).

I'm having trouble trying to figure out how I would be able to pull this off. I did some test shots and there was way too much light falloff (from the flash) that would prevent the full bokeh effect. Anyone have any ideas? I plan on using an FA 50 1.4 lens.

I was thinking that it might have to be a composite shot... Any way to avoid this?
A full body shot will be tough. You would need a very large room. However, you could do a head & shoulders shot as follows:
1. Background about 8 ft behind subjects.
2. Use a studio flash in a small (22") soft box on camera right, about 2 ft from subjects. Minimum flash power. You may need to feather the soft box to reduce the flash further. Soft box is angled down and toward the left (rembrandt lighting) so no light reaches the background (or feathered up). Use a 40" silver reflector for fill.
3. Adjust shutter speed to bring up background lights(maybe 1/125 sec or longer)
4. Use 77mm limited lens @ f 1.8. Camera about another 5-6 feet from subjects. Use ISO 100 (80 with K-5iis).
5. Post your result!
12-12-2014, 11:11 PM   #8
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I was experimenting with this same idea in the living room a few nights ago for a photo for holiday postcards to mail out and this is how it came out. Is this along the lines of what you are trying to achieve. These are with the 77 Limited at f/1.8. Experimenting with flash as I rarely ever use it but this is the result. Still need to do some PP but was on the clock to get something printed off and sent out to friends and family. And, yes, all she wants for Christmas is her two front teeth!

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Last edited by transam879; 12-13-2014 at 01:31 AM.
12-13-2014, 04:01 AM   #9
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Check out this YouTube Video

---------- Post added 12-13-2014 at 06:10 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by transam879 Quote
I was experimenting with this same idea in the living room a few nights ago for a photo for holiday postcards to mail out and this is how it came out. Is this along the lines of what you are trying to achieve. These are with the 77 Limited at f/1.8. Experimenting with flash as I rarely ever use it but this is the result. Still need to do some PP but was on the clock to get something printed off and sent out to friends and family. And, yes, all she wants for Christmas is her two front teeth!
Lovely children, was this taken with the camera's flash?
12-13-2014, 04:26 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by geru2000 Quote
Lovely children, was this taken with the camera's flash?
No. Trying to play with multiple flashes (lots of trial and error). I had the Pentax 540 on camera with a Sto-Fen Omni Bounce pointed at about 60 degree angle and I had an umbrella to the right pointed down (to prevent lighting the tree too much) at 1/64 power. I would have liked to bounce it straight up off the ceiling but to get that bokeh I needed a lot of space which forced me into another room that would have blocked most of the bounced light. I had to work quickly since attention spans were limited and I hadn't prepared properly. Definitely lots of work to do but working with these in PP where help me learn where to improve. For example, shots came out somewhat underexposed so it gives me something to brainstorm the next time I find the time to play around with my flashes.
12-13-2014, 06:34 AM   #11
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Do you live somewhere where you can take the pix outside? You can put a few strings of lights in a tree and be able to get enough distance behind them so the flash won't mess up the lights. Set up the flash near them, use a tele, and there ya go.
12-13-2014, 08:27 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Another dyemention Quote
Do you live somewhere where you can take the pix outside? You can put a few strings of lights in a tree and be able to get enough distance behind them so the flash won't mess up the lights. Set up the flash near them, use a tele, and there ya go.
That could work really well. Night time might be the best time for this shot, right?
12-13-2014, 08:44 AM   #13
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I would imagine. Although slightly under exposing the lights could probably work if it were during the day. But I'm just guessing here. I've only been shooting since spring and have never used even the flash in the camera. But it seems logical to do it that way.
12-13-2014, 04:39 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by transam879 Quote
No. Trying to play with multiple flashes (lots of trial and error). I had the Pentax 540 on camera with a Sto-Fen Omni Bounce pointed at about 60 degree angle and I had an umbrella to the right pointed down (to prevent lighting the tree too much) at 1/64 power. I would have liked to bounce it straight up off the ceiling but to get that bokeh I needed a lot of space which forced me into another room that would have blocked most of the bounced light. I had to work quickly since attention spans were limited and I hadn't prepared properly. Definitely lots of work to do but working with these in PP where help me learn where to improve. For example, shots came out somewhat underexposed so it gives me something to brainstorm the next time I find the time to play around with my flashes.
The catch lights indicate the light was directly in front which was why I assumed on camera flash. Since you're using an umbrella you have at least 1 light stand? If so why not use it to mount a flagged (to keep direct light off the subjects) bare flash and bounce that off a wall or ceiling nearer them with no flash from camera unless its needed to trigger the other flash. You could also use a reflector of some type for fill if needed.

I really don't see these photos as under exposed they actually look pretty well balanced.
12-13-2014, 07:45 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by geru2000 Quote
The catch lights indicate the light was directly in front which was why I assumed on camera flash. Since you're using an umbrella you have at least 1 light stand? If so why not use it to mount a flagged (to keep direct light off the subjects) bare flash and bounce that off a wall or ceiling nearer them with no flash from camera unless its needed to trigger the other flash. You could also use a reflector of some type for fill if needed.

I really don't see these photos as under exposed they actually look pretty well balanced.
Thanks for the input. I have four light stands with softboxes and constant lighting that I was going to try and use again since it worked well before, easier to control/manipulate and no flash recharge times. However, my daughter didn't appreciate the brightness of them (my son didn't care) so I scrapped that idea and had to improvise quickly before I lost their attention and willingness to get their picture taken. I only have one light stand adapter that holds an umbrella and none to attach a softbox to the flash, so now I have a project to work on until next time. It's difficult to set everything up as I have to make do in our living room so space is at a premium. Plus finding the time. I may do some testing when I have the house to myself and can play around with different setups and use myself as a subject with the remote timed release. Thanks again for your help.
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