posted by http://michaelabela.weebly.com
A night-time photo shoot often presents a problem or two, especially when including an element of interest in the background such as architecture. In most cases a tripod or some other method of stabilizing the camera will be necessary due to the slow shutter speeds used with low-light photography. But even with a tripod, our subject needs to remain somewhat statuesque to prevent blurring. If you've ever tried portraits at night, you'll know that getting clean sharp shots is almost impossible when there's any kind of movement.
We often end up turning on our flash to get around this issue. But this leads us into another problem. Using frontal flash at night will certainly capture your subject, but everything that's outside of your flash range, everything in the background will disappear into blackness. The resulting shot will be simply your bright subject, in a sea of blackness.
So in low light, how do we include the subject AND the background?
The answer is slow-sync flash.
It's a pretty simple concept that combines long exposure with flash photography. There are two types of slow-sync flash available to us, and they will each produce their own unique results. The two types are "front curtain" or "rear curtain". Either method can be used in an environment where everything is still with little difference in the outcome, not forgetting that a tripod would still be necessary in most cases. However, if you're trying to capture any kind of movement within the scene, it's important to choose the technique that will provide you with the desired result.
Front-curtain: The flash is fired at the start of the shot - right when the shutter opens. The flash will illuminate the subject and foreground, and the shutter will remain open for the remainder of the shot - long enough to capture everything else in the background.
Rear-curtain: Basically the opposite of the above. The shutter is opened for as long as necessary - long enough to capture the background, and then at the very last minute, the flash will fire to illuminate the subject and foreground.
What results do you think the front curtain method would produce? If you were to have the flash fire as the subject enters the scene, then leave the shutter open as they walk through the frame. What effect do you think that would have on the resulting photo?
Author: Shannon Yates