If you accept been in a situation where you lot had a Christmas tree behind your subject and you could not have a good portrait, correctly exposing both the bailiwick and the Christmas tree, then don’t be surprised – you are not the only person having such challenges. Many photographers have a tough fourth dimension with correctly exposing images indoors, especially when dealing with a very dim room with bright objects in the background. That’southward the biggest trouble with photographing the Christmas tree – most people like to plow off or dim their principal lights and only keep the Christmas tree lights on. With such a low amount of light in the room, all kinds of issues ascend for photographers: images come out blurry, portraits are too nighttime or images have a apartment, point and shoot await to them when photographed with a wink. The biggest annoyance and frustration, is when flash lights up the room and makes the Christmas tree lights disappear, as if they are not fifty-fifty on! What is the best mode to deal with these problems? How should you lot take pictures with the Christmas tree? In this article, I will exercise my best to explain what you lot need to do to take great family photos during holidays.
ane) Challenges with bright backgrounds indoors
When a room is dim, the simply thing you lot can exercise without using wink is heavily increase your camera’due south sensitivity (ISO). Increasing camera ISO, however, results in lots of noise in images and does not help with the problem of having a nighttime subject with a brightly-lit Christmas tree in the background. If you expose for the subject by setting your camera’s metering mode to “Spot/Partial Metering” and pointing the focus point at your subject field, the Christmas tree volition be overexposed. If you meter for the Christmas tree, your discipline will be too dark. Only like in these pictures:
What happened here? Besides me in the flick (note: my dwelling models were asleep when I did this, and then I had to find creative ways to photograph myself), the left prototype is metered for the calorie-free, while the right prototype is metered off me. As y’all can see, neither the get-go, nor the second image await acceptable in any fashion. That’s with simply Christmas lights in the room. Let’s run across what happens if I turn 1 light on the other side of the room on:
A little better, but it is all the same very noisy and I still look darker than the background. In such situations, at that place is not much y’all can do to address the problem, also putting a bright source of calorie-free in front end of your bailiwick. But walking around the room with a lamp is not very practical, especially when the business firm is full of people. That’south where wink comes to save you!
How would flash help in such a situation? Flash lights up your subject, assuasive yous to expose the Christmas lights properly likewise. How? Let me show you how to do exactly that.
two) Before Using Wink
Before using flash, make sure to motility your subject abroad from the Christmas tree or other bright sources of light. Why? Considering flash easily spills on other objects and will certainly do so on the Christmas tree. When wink spills, it volition make those objects look just similar your subject and the image will go “flat”. Ideally, y’all want the Christmas tree to be at to the lowest degree 5-half dozen feet abroad from your subject. The next thing yous will have to make up one’s mind on, is whether you want to mistiness the Christmas tree behind your subject or not. If you cull to blur the Christmas tree, then you would have to use large apertures on your lens (smallest F-numbers) and would accept to be shut to your subject area. If you choose to include the Christmas tree in your frame, then walk abroad from your bailiwick and use a smaller aperture (larger F-number) to increment the depth of field and make your Christmas tree announced sharp. I personally prefer to mistiness the Christmas tree lights, so for this article, I only did the tests at relatively big apertures (between f/2.8 and f/4.0).
three) Using Wink
Permit’south move on to using wink. If you have non purchased an external flash/Speedlight yet, and then you will have to employ the pop-up flash on your camera. While it works OK for this state of affairs, you lot will have to be extremely careful with shadows, especially behind your subjects (on the walls, etc). That’s considering pop-up wink is a directly source of calorie-free.
If you lot have a Speedlight, and then you have two options – to utilize it on the camera or utilize it off-camera every bit a remote flash. If you lot are firing wink from your camera’s hot-shoe (on-photographic camera), then I recommend to bounce the low-cal off-ceilings and walls (by moving the flash head). Only make certain that you lot are not angling the light towards the Christmas tree, so that it does non get much of the low-cal coming from your flash. Your goal is to light up the subject area and not touch the Christmas tree. A better option, is to use off-photographic camera flash and shoot through an umbrella. With off-camera flash, y’all have a much better control over light spill and you lot can position the low-cal so that it hits your subject, but does not reach the Christmas tree. See my “Indoors Flash Photography” article, where I become through an off-camera light setup. Again, yous take to be cautious most the altitude betwixt your subject and the Christmas tree – the further away they are from each other, the better.
4) Camera and Flash Settings
Here are the settings I recommend on your camera and flashes:
- Fix your wink to “TTL” both on your camera and your Speedlight(s) to let the camera automatically make up one’s mind the correct flash power.
- Fix camera manner to “Transmission”.
- Plow off “Auto ISO” and set up your ISO to the camera’s base of operations ISO (100 or 200).
- If you are using a prime lens, set your aperture to something between f/2.0 and f/2.8. If you lot are shooting with a zoom lens, set aperture to the smallest number similar f/iii.5.
- Fix your shutter speed to the electric current focal length of the lens for now. For case, if you are zoomed in to 60mm, prepare your shutter speed to 1/60th of a 2d.
five) Accurate Focusing
While photographing in a dark environment, you might take issues with autofocus beliefs – it simply doesn’t work very well in such conditions. Whether you lot are using a Speedlight or not, make sure that AF-aid is turned on (if you have it) and y’all are in a “Unmarried” servo mode (AF-Southward), non “Continuous” servo (AF-C) – AF-help only works on AF-S mode. AF-assist typically works great in dark environments to get accurate focus.
If yous nevertheless accept challenges with autofocus, ask someone to temporarily turn the lights on so that you could get good focus, then freeze and when the lights are off over again, take a picture. Another matter I highly recommend, is to set your photographic camera on a tripod (read beneath why it is a good idea to use a tripod).
6) Shutter Speed – the Cloak-and-dagger Ingredient
For the current objective, which is to properly expose the both the Christmas tree and your subject and make them both announced natural, you will have to play with your camera’s Shutter Speed. When it comes to ambient light, Shutter Speed is what fully controls information technology. Take a wait at these two images:
The image on the left was taken at 1/100th of a 2d at f/4.5, ISO 200. The image on the correct was taken at the aforementioned discontinuity and ISO, except the shutter speed was dropped to i/2 of a second. See the difference in the way the background came out on both images? The exposure on me is about the aforementioned on both images, just the image on the right looks a piddling more natural and it is almost hard to say that wink was used. That’s considering ambience light mixed together with wink, giving a different colour tone to my skin and shirt. I used one off-photographic camera speedlight positioned on the right (my left), angled at around 45 degrees and reflected off a half-open umbrella with a black cover (I purposefully only opened the umbrella half way, so that the low-cal only lands on me and does not spill all over the room).
Whenever you want to mix ambient calorie-free with flash, you always have to decrease your shutter speed. Dropping shutter speed to very low values is tricky, considering whatsoever camera shake or move by your bailiwick will brand the image blurry. A tripod is always helpful to fight confronting photographic camera milk shake, merely it cannot aid when there is fast movement. Taking pictures of fast-moving kids is certainly challenging in this instance. The good news, is that flash does freeze motion to a certain extent and yous can increase your shutter speed by increasing camera ISO. For case, if you make up one’s mind that you are getting a good exposure at ane/tenth of a second at ISO 100, you could increase your shutter speed to 1/80th of a second when you increment camera ISO to 800. If you don’t understand how I came upwards with these figures, it is really a very simple concept to understand – whenever you increment your camera sensitivity by a full stop, you tin can as well increment shutter speed by a full terminate. What happens if you increment photographic camera sensitivity and keep both discontinuity and shutter speed the aforementioned? That’southward right, the image volition be overexposed. There are three full stops between ISO 100 and 800 (100-200, 200-400 and 400-800); and there are also 3 stops between 1/tenth of a second and 1/80th (1/10-1/20, one/20-1/forty and 1/forty-i/lxxx). Therefore, an image shot at 1/10th of a second at ISO 100 volition await similarly to an image shot at 1/80th of a second at ISO 800, except the latter will have more noise in the prototype.
So if slow shutter speed becomes a large issue, increase your camera ISO, which will permit you lot to shoot at higher shutter speeds. Simple, yet works great!
7) Tiresome-sync/Rear-sync modes
I have already thoroughly explained the differences betwixt diverse sync modes in a video in my “how to get the all-time out of your pop-up flash” article, simply I know that people will still be asking almost this. Basically, flash sync modes will exercise absolutely aught to improve your pictures when you shoot in manual manner, similar I have shown above. As for slow-sync fashion, it is chosen “boring” sync for a reason…believe it or not, but all the wearisome-sync mode does, is decrease your camera’s shutter speed! Therefore, it is only good for taking pictures in Automobile or Aperture Priority modes. What about rear-sync or forepart-sync modes? For portrait photography without movements, they do absolutely nothing. What difference does it make if flash fires at the beginning or the end of the exposure? In fact, I would recommend to plow off rear-sync fashion, because your wink will fire twice (once in the beginning equally modeling light and once at the end every bit main calorie-free), which will exist very abrasive at slow shutter speeds to the people you are taking pictures of. One flash in a dim room is already too much for the optics, imagine ii flashes firing one afterward another. So don’t worry about sync modes when shooting in Transmission Mode and turn off rear-sync mode if you lot have it turned on.
Recollect, the fundamental is to use a slow shutter speed!