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Sonneilon 09-18-2006 08:24 AM

Outrider's Nite Techniques
*I'm posting this for Outrider*

In this forum I’ll explain some simple lighting techniques I use that may help you to create pictures that aren’t taken in natural daylight. This includes not only night shots, but night vision effects and shots that look as if they are illuminated by a flare as well. Firstly you need to set your camera up correctly. You need to make sure the flash is turned off, and as most dimly lit pictures are reasonably tight shots, you’re better off with the macro function switched on. Most times I don’t change the shutter speed or aperture. My camera does have a low light setting, but I don’t use it because it lengthens the exposure time and therefore requires use of a tripod to prevent blurring.

The second thing you will need is an artificial light source, unless there happens to be a particularly bright full moon! For standard night shots I use a small portable fluorescent work light which cost less than ten dollars at my local hardware store. Fluorescent light has a cool, even look, which looks just like real moonlight in photos. Whilst I was there I also bought a small headband mounted flashlight which has not only a standard white beam, but also has a very bright red beam as well, which is useful if you want a scene to look as if it is illuminated by a flare (pic 1).

Once you have your figures and/or vehicles set up you are ready to start snapping. Ideally ask someone to hold the light for you so both your hands are free for the camera. All you need to decide now is what angle you want the light to come from, and how bright you want the shot to look. You can have the light down low and in front of the subject (pic2) for a dramatic look, or above and in front of the subject for a shot which will show some detail on the subject (pic 3), or above and behind the subject for a silhouette effect (pic 4).

You can even get tricky and have the light source between subjects for multiple lighting effects in one picture (pic 5).

Sonneilon 09-18-2006 08:24 AM


For a brightly lit pic, hold the light fairly close to the subject (pic 6) or further away for a darker pic (pic 7). As a rule, the lighter a picture is, the more detail you will see, and the darker a picture is, the moodier it will look.

For the “flare” illumination effect, simply follow the above tips, but use a coloured light source. The difference between fluorescent light and coloured light can be seen in same scene photographed under different light sources in the two shots below (pics 8 & 9).

You may be able to achieve a similar look to pic 8 by using a filter if you have some decent photo editing software. You will also need this if you want to achieve a “night vision” effect. Simply take a shot as explained above (I’ll use pic 2 from above), then use your software to change it to black & white, then tint it with a light green shade, and finally add a little noise and blur to make it look grainy (pic 10).

Finally, after you have taken your pics you may find you want to use your photo editing software to adjust the brightness and contrast functions just to fine tune them a little. Now, get out there in the dark and remember to HAVE FUN!

ender098 09-18-2006 01:57 PM

Oh,'re giving me ideas again! The diabolical little wheels are turning!

Great article! Gave me lots of ideas on new and awesome effects!

Bayer 09-19-2006 01:06 PM

Great effects. Thanks for sharing the technique. I look forward to using them myself.

Buckwheat826 09-22-2006 01:30 PM

The lighting is tight in these (especially pics 3-8). When get back in the saddle, I will almost certainly use fluorecent lighting. Looks like Michael Mann-ish. :)

Outrider 04-14-2007 01:36 PM

Another technique I've been experimenting with has given me some interesting results. Instead of buying a heap of different coloured lights, I bought half a dozen sheets of different coloured cellophane to use as filters. That way one light can give you any colour you want.
You can use a single piece for a basic colour or use different combinations to achieve some really strange colours. You can also vary the intensity of the colour by using a single layer of cellophane for a weak tint, or three or four layers for a strong full colured light. It only costs a couple of dollars per sheet, which is a lot cheaper than buying heaps of different coloured lights! :)

joefan21 04-18-2007 10:57 AM

wow, that is great!!

guiltridden 11-10-2007 07:27 AM

Very helpful

Flatline 11-22-2007 02:34 PM

great Tips And Very Well Explained.

Urban Saboteur 09-23-2008 08:20 AM

Posting for pictures?
Hey,I'm about ready to do a few night time shots in my dio.. mainly ones involving night vision and a scope.. my problem is that I don't quite know how to get the circular bits around the edges that you see in some shots.
I got to the stage where I've darkened the image and used the Gamma to increase the green visual..
I now want to add the middle horizontal vertical thing and the distance measurements in the corner to make the shot look good.. so how do you get the picture to appear or seem to appear behind the black circular viewfinder? I'm assuming it's photo editing and something to do with layering..
btw those pictures have disappeared above.. :confused:

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