Working with Ambient Light and Flash at Night


It’s been an interesting 24 hours, with a good fall of snow last night and a further heavy shower for a couple of hours this morning. When it comes down like this, and that’s not very often round here, you have to make the most of it and it simply draws me out. There’s no possible way I can sit in doors knowing of the opportunities just beyond the comfort and warmth of the house. So between 11pm and 1am last night I roamed the streets! The dampened down sound created by freshly fallen snow is something I have always loved and by eleven last night Llantrisant was under the spell.


This evening I decided to use a combination of flash and the ambient street lighting available. By setting the camera to manual and using the pop up flash you are able to control the shutter and aperture, thereby gaining a large amount of creative control over the images. The shutter can be set to any speed below 250th sec. and the aperture to any ‘f’ number; in the conditions last night the aperture was fully open and I controlled the ambient light with the shutter speed, working between 60th and 15thsec. By combining flash and ambient light in this way it’s possible to move the camera during the exposure, thereby creating blur via the ambient light whilst holding aspects of the image, generally those subjects closest to the camera, sharp, with the flash. It’s then possible to create different colours from the ambient source depending on the white balance that’s been selected. It’s a fairly straight forward technique, yet can produce images with a  surreal and at times slightly sinister feel to them.



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