Here are a few favourites from Matija & Thomas’ joint 18th birthday party. I set up the studio lights at the entrance of the marquee for red carpet arrival portraits for an hour then walked around inside to get some more informal photos of everyone enjoying themselves. There was a fantastic atmosphere, and Fitzherbert Discos had a very cool DJ and lighting setup.
As a few of you probably know from my wedding first dance photos, I’m quite a fan of the slow-shutter-lots-of-lights-swirling-around type images. The more technical term is “dragging the shutter”. This is where flash is used in combination with a long exposure.
Setting the camera to automatic will most likely correctly expose your subject (the DJ in the photo below), but you will lose the atmosphere of the image and the background will be very dark or even completely black. See below for the exposure settings I used to get the photos.
Lots of people tell me that they get scared when using flash so put everything on automatic. Don’t be! Just give manual a go. Next time you’re at a party, set your camera to ISO 400, f4, 1/4 second and fire away. Play around with longer exposures too. If the images are too bright, reduce your ISO. If you’ve got a compact camera with no manual control, use ‘night mode’ (usually the button with a moon and stars on). Every camera works differently in this mode, so you won’t have the same control as using manual.
The most important thing to remember here is that a slow shutter speed will not make your subject blurred (if it is in range of the flash). Your subject will be ‘frozen’ by the very short burst of light that comes from the flash (which may be as fast as 30 microseconds, or 0.00003 seconds).
Photo 1 – exposure settings: ISO 100, f4, 3.5 seconds. Camera moved during exposure.
Photo 2 – if that one is a bit much for you, this was taken at ISO 100, f4, 0.5 seconds (handheld, but no movement of camera during exposure)
I love this sequence and the reactions of the crowd when the awesome Paul Craven was doing some card tricks. Exposure settings: ISO 800, f4, 1/15th second.
Here’s Paul again, this time baffling everyone with mind reading. There was a little more light in this part of the marquee, so I have reduced my ISO to 400.
The birthday boys!