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10-17-2018, 11:32 PM   #1
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Need advice for a shoot

I have no idea whether this is the right place to ask this but I'll be doing a shoot with two of my friends at night with just ambient lighting from the surrounding stores and what not. Using a Pentax-A 50mm f1.4 lens because I need all the light I can get. How do I shoot this so they will both be in focus without stopping down the aperture too much? Should I use an off-camera flash at least or would a tripod suffice with a longer exposure time suffice?

10-18-2018, 12:33 AM - 1 Like   #2
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What will you shoot? If t is a landscape, a tripod will do the trick. Set the aperture to f8, possibly set the ISO to a low value (800 or less). If you shot a moving target, you may need a flash, but the light intensity decay exponentially with distance from the flash. For portrait shooting, a flash is likely a good option.
My 5 cents.
10-18-2018, 12:44 AM - 1 Like   #3
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Take both and try both. Experiment a bit and get lotsof different shots

Try shooting your friends with just the ambient lighting. You'll get some shots which are mostly silhouettes and others with more facial detail.

To get detail in your subjects' faces use some flash. I would mostly keep the camera on the tripod and use just a touch of manual flash on their faces with the exposure times varied to make your backgrounds lighter or darker..
10-18-2018, 01:30 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by hcc Quote
What will you shoot? If t is a landscape, a tripod will do the trick. Set the aperture to f8, possibly set the ISO to a low value (800 or less). If you shot a moving target, you may need a flash, but the light intensity decay exponentially with distance from the flash. For portrait shooting, a flash is likely a good option.
My 5 cents.
My friends are modelling for me so it's just the two of them in both landscape and portrait depending on how nice the location looks. Do I need a diffuser for the flash? I don't know of any photographers who shoot night portraits without the use of neon lights so I have no point of reference.



QuoteOriginally posted by Billk Quote
Take both and try both. Experiment a bit and get lotsof different shots.
Try shooting your friends with just the ambient lighting. You'll get some shots which are mostly silhouettes and others with more facial detail.
To get detail in your subjects' faces use some flash. I would mostly keep the camera on the tripod and use just a touch of manual flash on their faces with the exposure times varied to make your backgrounds lighter or darker..
Alright, thanks. Never had the need for a tripod before so I guess I really got to experiment with how the exposure would look while doing the shoot

10-18-2018, 02:05 AM - 1 Like   #5
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you should have your friends stand very close to the ambient lighting sources
10-18-2018, 04:03 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by dreamercross Quote
Alright, thanks. Never had the need for a tripod before so I guess I really got to experiment with how the exposure would look while doing the shoot
A tripod would be good for low light landscape photography where you can use a slow shutter speed, but not for the scenario you are taking on. Even if your friends are not jumping around there will be movement. Using too slow a shutter speed will lead to blur.

for ambient light use the storefront lights to illuminate your subjects and bump up the ISO as needed. At f1.4 you will have to position them so they are both the same distance from you if you want them both in focus. Flash is a good option too but try to get a diffuser for the flashgun.
10-18-2018, 04:35 AM - 1 Like   #7
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If you friends are standing next to each other, you should be OK at f/1.4 or f/2 but you will have to pay attention when focusing. Shooting at f/8 of /11 for depth of field will mean that they will have to stand really still. And a tripod will be needed. That kinda defeats the purpose of the f/1.4 lens.

I have had acceptable but not stellar results when I shot a couple with a K-x and a 50mm f/1.4 at ISO 12 800 under suburban street lamps. There is noticeable noise but I converted the image to monochrome and it works as an edgy portrait. A more modern camera will give better results. With stores around you will probably have more light to work with than I had.
10-18-2018, 07:00 AM   #8
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@Dericali
Yep, will keep that in mind.

@pschlute
Will 1/50 shutter speed be good enough for portrait? I'll be scouting for locations with brighter lights but I still need all the light I can get if I'm shooting at a smaller aperture to get any interesting backdrops in the shot as well.

@Wasp
Monochrome sounds like a good idea. I'll see how it goes after the shoot. Should I just use an autofocus lens if I'm shooting at smaller apertures? Or does the Pentax-A lenses have some kind of unique look to them?

10-18-2018, 07:24 AM - 1 Like   #9
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In low light, autofocus might not be of much help.

The Pentax A primes have some magic that is missing in more modern zooms - in my opinion anyway.

If your subjects are standing reasonably still, 1/50 second would work well. It is well within the capabilities of Pentax SR as well. You can go lower still.
10-18-2018, 09:40 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wasp Quote
In low light, autofocus might not be of much help.

The Pentax A primes have some magic that is missing in more modern zooms - in my opinion anyway.

If your subjects are standing reasonably still, 1/50 second would work well. It is well within the capabilities of Pentax SR as well. You can go lower still.
Hmm, I can't consistently get a sharp photo below 1/50 because I'm manual focusing from live view and can't hold the camera stable enough. Would have to carry around a monopod probably
10-18-2018, 10:14 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by dreamercross Quote
Will 1/50 shutter speed be good enough for portrait? I'll be scouting for locations with brighter lights but I still need all the light I can get if I'm shooting at a smaller aperture to get any interesting backdrops in the shot as well.
Should be fine if they are keeping still.

If you are relying on natural light and it is marginal (shopfronts providing light for your subjects), then the interesting backgrounds will be too dark anyway.

If you want interesting low lit backgrounds to be sharp and in focus in the shot as well as your subjects you are going to have to use flash. The flash will illuminate them and the background will be lit by ambient. You may well require a tripod for this to be effective.

i suggest you go to the location on your own at first and experiment.
10-18-2018, 07:06 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by pschlute Quote
Should be fine if they are keeping still.

If you are relying on natural light and it is marginal (shopfronts providing light for your subjects), then the interesting backgrounds will be too dark anyway.

If you want interesting low lit backgrounds to be sharp and in focus in the shot as well as your subjects you are going to have to use flash. The flash will illuminate them and the background will be lit by ambient. You may well require a tripod for this to be effective.

i suggest you go to the location on your own at first and experiment.
Yeah, I should really do that. Thanks for all the help, guys.
10-18-2018, 08:46 PM - 1 Like   #13
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Without flash letting you stop down to f4 or more, this is going to be hard, Dreamercross.

If you're shooting at f1.4, it's asking a lot of you and your directing and them and they're modelling ability to have their eyes in the same focal plane, again and again without the shots looking repetitive.

You get more margin for error with full length shots, because you're standing back further.
10-19-2018, 08:10 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Without flash letting you stop down to f4 or more, this is going to be hard, Dreamercross.

If you're shooting at f1.4, it's asking a lot of you and your directing and them and they're modelling ability to have their eyes in the same focal plane, again and again without the shots looking repetitive.

You get more margin for error with full length shots, because you're standing back further.
Haha, I actually found out about that yesterday. How standing further back gives me more margin for error as you said but I end up losing the "focus" that I like with a close-up in my portraits. And yeah, I tried f2.8, and it wasn't enough so for the next shoot, I'm gonna use a location with much brighter ambient lighting so I can stop down to f4-5.6. It was really tiring at a wide aperture because I have to constantly direct them to have their faces next to each other and it really did limit my poses alot.
10-29-2018, 12:42 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by dreamercross Quote
Haha, I actually found out about that yesterday. How standing further back gives me more margin for error as you said but I end up losing the "focus" that I like with a close-up in my portraits. And yeah, I tried f2.8, and it wasn't enough so for the next shoot, I'm gonna use a location with much brighter ambient lighting so I can stop down to f4-5.6. It was really tiring at a wide aperture because I have to constantly direct them to have their faces next to each other and it really did limit my poses alot.

"Live & Learn" - that's how we all get better at this game! :-D

Here are some suggestions for the next shoot:
- Shoot in RAW so you have better flexibility for color balance since you will be shooting in a variety of light (Sodium/LED streetlight, neon/fluorescent store signs, ambient moonlight, halogen car lights passing, and your speed light).
- As earlier suggested, try a monopod set up if you have one. Sometimes tripods will draw attention to security depending on where you are shooting. Monopods don't attract as much attention.
- If you have help, off camera flash will help the quality of light and give you better posing options.


Good luck & keep at it!!

Last edited by R. Wethereyet; 10-29-2018 at 12:44 PM. Reason: modified wording
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