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Nightlife Photo

Q: Hi! I was reading your blog. I'm an amateur photographer who does some photography at a bar/club on weekends. I've been doing some things other websites have told me, but I still don't seem to be taking as good of pictures as I want! One of the main things I'm missing is catching the colored lights in the background and making it have that fun look to it. I have a Nikon D3000 and I have a Nikon SB-600 Speedlight. If there are any specific tips or retrogradations you could give me it would be greatly appreciated thank you!


A: Check out the camera and flash settings I listed on my site. Those are the basic camera and exposure settings that will give you a pretty good starting point.

Catching the colorful backgrounds only works if there's actually some light in the background. You should position yourself so that the light is behind the subject. Use a slow shutter speed (around 1/4 to 1/2 sec) and set your flash to 2nd or rear curtain sync.

Changing the aperture will adjust the flash output on the foreground subject. Changing the shutter speed will let more or less background show in the shot. (Popular Photography, June 2011 issue, p.61).

You should also try moving your camera around so that there's movement in the light. I think that this is the "fun" look that you're looking to get. I'm going to cover this in more detail when I update the shooting techniques and composition section of my site.

If you see the effect you want on any of my work, let me know which one and I'll post the camera and exposure settings. You can also send me a link to your work and let me know the look and feel you're trying to achieve with the picture, and I'll give you some suggestions.