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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Photo in the dark....I am trying something and I do not know where to start.... I have some ideas, so can you tell ...
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Old 14-12-2012, 10:47   #1 (permalink)
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Photo in the dark.

I am trying something and I do not know where to start....
I have some ideas, so can you tell me if I am thinking along the right lines....

Here is the scenario, I have witnessed a thing thats "I need to try that" with a forest in the dark with side-illumination of the trees.....
say illumination from 90deg to the line of sight.

So accepting I will be taking this on a long exposure, any tips?...

Do I go for say a large light source (STRONG torch) or just highlight the bits I want with a flash gun set to manual and wander round the woods?.....


I have the camera of course on a strong stable tripod, with remote trigger, and accept the exposure will need to be set in seconds....

Any suggestions?....
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Old 14-12-2012, 10:59   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Photo in the dark.

Someone with more knowlage about it jump in but is there a thing called light painting. You put the shutter on the bulb setting and use a strong torch and paint the light in where you want it using a bit of board to mask setting up where you are going to shine your light. Needs an assistant.
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Old 14-12-2012, 17:21   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Photo in the dark.

Yes - painting with light can be done with a hand held flashgun or a torch. Trial and error prevails and there are no set methods to follow other than using a tripod is essential and remembering that most cameras will only keep the shutter open for around 30 seconds. If you fall foul of this, multiple exposures might help you, or blending multiple exposures

Bear in mind that if using a continuous light source you will need to use bursts without moving it or else you will get light trails and the white balance will probably need to be adjusted in PP. Also if it has a focussed beam, it might show.

If using flash at full power factor in that it will need at least four seconds to recycle, so a lower power level will enable you to get more flashes at a higher rate.
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Old 16-12-2012, 08:49   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Photo in the dark.

Thanks for the help so far...
I think I may try the Flash first then.... if I set it to a wide spread on a fresh set of batteries, I think I can get a flash-per-2 seconds out of it?....

My Dad (R.I.P.) did one like this where he illuminated a single rock (about the size of a car) on a beach by using Long exposure and flash, but that was 35mil days, and I cant remember how he did it.

I think I may experiment first and see what I get on a close-range subject?....

I have more than one flash units, my Dads old Pentax 35mil has an excellent flash, I may try with them on manual to see what happens....
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Old 18-12-2012, 11:40   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Photo in the dark.

experimentation is the key (much easier with digital)

my suggested approach is to think of a lit/flash image as two images in one, the ambient exposure (when you don't add any light) and the flash/lit exposure when you are adding light

so, start with the ambient, turn off all additional lighting and get that looking like you want (e.g. brightness of the sky - the things you aren't going to be lighting - etc) - might be something like 30 seconds f4 400iso (made that up!)

then keeping those settings the same, repeat the exposure but now adding in the light,. you know the ambient is correct, you just might need to use more or less flash to light the bits you want
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Old 19-12-2012, 19:34   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Photo in the dark.

I would imagine...though can't say for sure, you'd need to do this as multiple exposures if you're using a flashgun?

If you set the camera on a long exposure....say for example you work out that using a very narrow aperture and doing it a dusk, will allow you to use a 30sec exposure, if you fire the flash gun at your first point, when you get to your second, the light from that will overexpose the area you've already illuminated and so on?

I'm going to guess that the only way to do it would be either multilpe exposures blended in PS, a torch as Graham said so you can control where the light is going or multiple flashguns fired wirelessly.

I think I know what I mean.....
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Old 20-12-2012, 11:48   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Photo in the dark.

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Originally Posted by damot View Post
if you fire the flash gun at your first point, when you get to your second, the light from that will overexpose the area you've already illuminated and so on?
This should not happen as a single flash should not emit enough light to give a correct exposure for the part of the image that it lights. You might need several pops in the same place to get a correct exposure. You can then use any overlaps to add to the previous exposures. This is another advantage of using low power. Not only do you get faster recycling, you have more control of the lighting as you build it up.

When I was working and we needed a well lit shot at night it averaged out at four or five flashes at slightly different angles to eliminate shadows for the record shot.
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Old 20-12-2012, 16:53   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Photo in the dark.

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Originally Posted by Dabhand16 View Post
--- Not only do you get faster recycling, you have more control of the lighting as you build it up.---
or you could set the flash to 'repeat/strobe' mode if possible and 'paint' the light as you wave the flash around to get more even lighting. Don't set it too low (too many flashes per second) though or you will not defeat the ambient light as Silver describes.
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