Night Photography with Rear Curtain Sync
My favorite time of the day to photograph is the dusk time. In an urban environment, you can make completely different pictures compared to shooting the same location during daytime. However, the low light photography presents you with many challenges. One of the main problems is that the slower shutter speeds that you have to deal with.
One would say, today’s cameras have awesome high ISO capabilities, so, I would use high ISO values to increase my shutter speed and I would shoot handheld. Well, that is a fair argument. But, you will have to compromise the picture quality when you increase your ISO levels. And also, what if you want to use slower shutter speeds in order to introduce creative effects into your photos, such as silky looking water surfaces, light trails, movement of objects, etc.,? That is where you must have a tripod or some other means of stabilizing your camera. That will allow you to create very sharp and high quality pictures.
As a people photographer, I find my photos to be very interesting when I have people in them. When you use slower shutter speeds, having people in your photographs is another level of challenge. Main reason being people can’t stay still during the longer exposure time and you will end up with blurry or ghostly looking people in your photographs. That’s where flash photography, especially rear curtain sync with flash comes in very handy. In the regular flash mode, flash fires right after the shutter curtains open. In the rear curtain sync mode though, flash fires right before the shutter curtains closes in order to complete the exposure. This method helps you to freeze motion during long exposures.
Following is a photograph that I made when my wife and I visited Windsor, Ontario, Canada on September 01, 2015.
I was taking pictures of the beautiful Detroit skyline from Windsor, Canada. After taking pictures with several different settings and compositions, I decided to take a picture of us in front of this incredible scene. I could’ve taken a selfie using my camera phone, instead, I decided to make a proper selfie. I had my camera setup on tripod and framed the shot in the way I wanted. Then, I asked my wife to jump in and so that I can focus on her. I used the rear-button-focus technique to keep my focus locked on her, so that the camera won’t start hunting for focus when I try to take the photograph.
Then I setup my Yongnuo 568EXII speedlite on a light stand with YN-622C TTL flash trigger attached to it. Then I used my YN-622C-TX on camera flash controller to set my speedlite to rear-curtain sync mode. Then, it was just a matter of setting the camera to 10-seconds self timer mode, figuring out a good lighting angle, me pressing the shutter button, and go sitting next to my wife to take the photograph. After few tries, this is what I came up with.
I used the same technique to create the following photograph of my wife and I, when we visited Grand Rapids, MI in June 2014.
I believe that there’s a value to these photographs compared to selfies that one would take using a phone camera. Next time when you travel, try this out, you will be amazed with the results.