Archive for the ‘ projects ’ Category

Nightlife photography

Today I won’t be featuring a photo perse (of course I will post an image), but instead I’ll be featuring a technique instead. As you probably do understand nightlife photography is completely different then say; wedding photography or portrait. Nightlife photography brings a whole different concept. For one you can not only experiment and also get away with it, you also have to use you flash in a whole different way and you are most likely shooting at higher ISOs (800+). It’s ok if images get some noise, as long it’s not in the way of any detail you’re focusing on (and that’s not that pretty girl with the large breasts, mind you!). Nightlife photography is fun and exciting and if you’re photographing in a club you’re most likely having an awesome time. Of course you still have to remember you’re at work, so try to stay sober and lay low on the booze! Oh and please note, some of these aren’t images are mine. If it’s your photo and if you wish for it to be removed, please contact me!


For nightlife photography you need a very basic setup of equipment. You need a flash, and even tho your build-in flash may work it’s not recommended. Since a bare flash is never nice when photographing people you may want something to diffuse your light. A Stofen OmniBouncer works in this case and you may also want a bounce card or something similar (you can creat one your self, it’s easy!).

The techniques

There are several techniques you can use in nightlife photography all with different stunning results. Like I said before you can, or rather should be creative. But of course it all depends on the setting. For example if you’re shooting at a casual business party you should be shooting sort of formal and if you’re at a night club, well go creative!

In the samples I’ll list below I assume you want to use the techniques in a club and therefor all examples are demonstrated as club photography.

Freeze the action

Freezing the action of one person can be fun and can be done in several ways. For speed photography you need fast shutter speeds and a fast flash sync (refer to your camera’s manual on how to set the sync speed). A shutter speed of 1/100 sec will probably do the trick unless you try to capture very fast movement, but in most cases 1/100 sec will be sufficient to capture a person’s movement and a result that will not have any blur due to movement. Honestly I’d never use this technique since it doesn’t give a good overall feeling to the scene. However there are occasions that you might want to use this technique, such as the case on the picture to the right. I tried to capture the tension and emotion, and it worked out pretty well.

Photo by Glenn de Vaal

Ambient light

There are two different approaches possible here, one is to leave the shutter open long enough to expose ambient light but not the movement and one which captures ambient lighting and movement.

Using a combination of your flash and ambient light is in my opinion the best technique to be used in night life photography. The trick here is to freeze the movement of your subject by using your flash (partly as fill in) and leave the shutter open long enough to capture some of the ambient light. While the shutter stays open you capture the movement of anything that moves (excluding your main subject), this is of course only when you use a rather slow shutter speed. This leaves the focus on your main subject because everything around your subject is blurry due to the movement. If you don’t want movement in your pictures however, use fast glass, high ISO and experiment with the shutter speed.

Photo by Igor Barandovski

Rear curtain sync

By using rear curtain sync you can show of movement. The trick here is to keep your shutter open long enough for your camera to capture movement and just before the shutter closes your flash should go off. Everything that happens before your flash goes off is blurred, leaving trails of movement and when the flash fires it captures (freezes) the movement of your subject. Since words say more than a thousand words, check out the picture on the left. Of course Rear curtain sync isn’t specific nightlife photography.

Pit falls

Nightlife photography, of course, doesn’t come without them. They are always lurking in the dark and you usually find them when it’s too late — at home when reviewing your images. The problem usually in dark areas with constant changing of the ambient light is that you can’t meter correctly. Your camera meters XX values and at the time you press the shutter release button the lighting changes. My advice is to always use Manual mode on your camera and just ignore your on camera light metering device. You have to judge mostly for your self about the lighting. Take a couple of test shots to determine the ideal settings. One thing that’s also very important; when you measure for light make absolutely sure you meter your subject and not your background. If you meter for the background your flash will try to fill up the entire room resulting in your subject being way over exposed. What you absolutely want is to use high ISO settings. I go for 1000+ in order to get good ambient light.


Project 365 — All stars

All stars

Exposure 1/200 sec at f/3.5 ISO 200 focal length 18mm flash 1/10

You’re still following me? That’s awesome! Today I’ll be featuring nothing less then my own pair of shoes! I love my All Stars; they are comfy, they look nice, I can wear them where I ever I go, they keep my feet warm and dry. So all in all, they deserve to be featured here!

The idea

The idea is quite simple, just photograph my shoes! No, I wanted to photograph my shoes against a black background. There was however one problem, I didn’t have anything around the house which was black and could be used as background, or so I thought. I used my computer as the background. It’s black, and that’s what I needed.

The set-up

The set-up was dead easy. Once again I used my strobe with with Omni. I positioned on left side of the shoes next to the computer. Unfortunately I didn’t have anything black to put the shoes on for a much better effect. Well better luck next time. Anywho, I used a very small focal length of 18mm. I only wanted light from the left side to create a dramatic look, I went for harsh shadows on the right side leaving the rest of the shoes in the dark.

Post process

I actually didn’t do much to the image. I’ve actually been that cheesy and used a Lightroom Preset — Creative – B&W High contrast.

The result

Well I love my shoes and therefor the image is good looking! If you disagree with me, you’ll have to face my wrath!

Sorry for this quicky, unfortunately I didn’t have much time. Tomorrow will hopefully be a bit better 🙂

Project 365 — Snooted portrait

It’s time for the second photo in Project 365 and I hope you’ve enjoyed the first one! Today we’ll be featuring a snooted portrait which should be more exciting then the one yesterday — I promised you it would be a lot fancier!

Brother snooted

Exposure: 1/30 sec at f/4.0 focal length 24mm ISO 200 Off camera flash at 1/8


I asked my brother to model for me and he willingly accepted. I used a very simple setup, I used my strobe and created a snoot for it out of paper and tape. It wasn’t the most sophisticated snoot, I used a couple of white paper sheets, rolled it up and attached it to my flash (an image of the snoot can be found at the bottom of the page).


What I tried to achieve was a dramatic looking image with some specific highlights and I went for the eyes in this case. The reason I used a snoot was to highlight the eyes to give them extra attention. In post process I also gave the eyes a color boost!


The set up was easy, I positioned my brother at the table, dimmed the light for a more dramatic look, placed the snoot front left of my camera and aimed the snoot at my brothers eyes as you can see in the image. I made quite a lot of test shoots so the highlights covered a small part of his right side and centered around the eyes. Thankfully we have dSLRs so we can review our image on the LCD screen on the back of our cameras!

Post process

I did quite some post processing in order to create the image. I toned down most of the colors and reduced the exposure slightly (not even half a stop). After that I open up the image in Photoshop and used the technique that I have featured here before. The post can be found here.

I also added a Hue/saturation layed and boosted the eyes a little bit and I added a curves layer in order to reduce some of the light from the flash. Later on I realised I should have done that in Lightroom when the image was still RAW.


I’m pretty much satisfied with the outcome of the image. The idea that I went for came out pretty well. I never used a snoot before so that was a whole new experience for me and I’m definitely going to try to use it more often to creat some awesome effects.

That was all for post #2 and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did making it. My brother and I had a good laugh while pulling dodgy faces! Anywho, stay tuned for #3 tomorrow!

The snoot

Project 365 — MacBook Keyboard

This is the very first post in series Project 365. As I’ve promised, I’ll be featuring one photo each day and explaining how I photographed the object or person. The introduction can be found here incase you want to read back. As I’ve said last time, the keyboard from the introduction will be the first in the series. The reason I choose my MacBook is because it looks lovely. I love the whiteness. It’s simple, it does everything I ask and it looks just beautifull.


Exposure 1/80 sec at f/5 ISO 200 +0.3EV flash correction and used the strobe in iTTL mode.

The photo was taken in the kitchen of my girlfriend and didn’t require much equipment, in fact it only took my strobe  and my on-camera flash — nothing else! I’ve used the screen of the laptop as reflector to bounce some light (glossy screen). I triggered my off camera flash with the build in Nikon Commander mode of my D300S.


The set-up was really easy, I placed my MacBook on the kitchen table my flash was positioned on the right side of my MacBook and I used a STO-FEN OmniBouncer to diffuse some of the light. I used the reflected light that bounced on the glossy screen to fill in some of it’s shadows.


I hardly did any post-production except I cropped the image a little bit to get a nicer composition. Because I also used my on camera flash my lens created a shadow so I had to crop that out as well 🙂 Of course I also tweaked the image slightly in Lightroom. I corrected the exposure slightly by half a stop.


I think the result is pretty nice. The object is nothing fancy but the image is nice to look at nonetheless. You can see, with some effort you can go a long way. The next image will be a little bit fancier and I already have some ideas for tomorrow. I won’t give away what it will be yet. I had it planned for today, but as I said last week I’d be featuring the keyboard I’ll save it for tomorrow. So go on and try some of your own stuff and remember to think simple. Take any object that seems interesting and photograph it. Try things as you go along; position it in a different way, bounce some light to fill in those shadows or put a sheet of paper under it to bring out the object more, be creative and improvise!

Project 365

MacToday I was wondering about what kind of project I could start my self and at the same time help out others. I came to the conclusion I’d kick off Project 365 I’ve been wanting to do for quite a long time. You might wonder “what’s that about dude?”. Well I was gonna tell you, chillio! You might already guess what this about and you’ve probably seen it before, in some form at least. Simply said; I will take a picture of a random object, scene or person and tell you how I’ve created it, what kind of lighting techniques I’ve used and all about the post processing of the image.

I’ll also be limiting my self to using 1 strobe (Nikon SB600) and, if available, normal everyday lights you have around the house, of course I’ll be using reflectors if I need them. Here’s a list off photography equipment I will be using (it’s a short list):

  •  dSLR (d’uh!)
  • Light stand
  • Umbrella (white shoot thru)
  • a Strobe

That’s all! Everything else will be self made (we go DIY style!). The reason I’m limiting my self to these items is to show you that you can create awesome photo’s with minimum equipment. Oh and of course, when I create some self-fabricated softbox I’ll show you how it’s done.

So why am I doing this? First off all, I start this project to learn a long the way, hopefully develop new skills and techniques while I try to educate you for free! How cool is that? The first one will be about the keyboard as shown above, so stay tuned till Monday about how it’s done.

I’m going to start on this project next Monday (November 16th 2009) so stay tuned for epic “making-offs” 😉


The blog dedicated to Project 365
Flickr set for Project 365 
First in the series — Keyboard