5 Tips to Get Unusual Night Portrait Photographs

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Bored of the usual night portraits?  Here are five simple tips you can try out to get unusual and creative night portrait photographs.

Shoot without a flash

Most photographers would advise use of a flash when shooting portrait photographs at night.  However, you can get a whole different feel to your night portraits without using a flash.  The key is to use the ambient light to your advantage.  Get your subject to pose at an angle that is flattering to their face.  Also, use a higher ISO on your camera when shooting in ambient night light.  This could produce grainy pictures, which up to a certain level could add a special look to your portrait.  However, do not go overboard with this as you will end up with ugly grainy pictures.  Experiment with different ISOs on your camera and see what level of graininess is acceptable and use that.
    

Play with the background

When shooting night portrait photographs, always use a wide aperture on your camera (4.5 or less) to keep the focus on your subject and blur out the background.  Play around with this blurred background to create different effects.  Shoot it from different angles and distances.  Also get your subject to pose at different angles so that the background looks different in each one.

Move camera while shooting

The general rule is to hold the camera still while shooting pictures.  Now try moving the camera while shooting a still subject.  You will end up with a whole range of background effects, especially with the night lights.  It could be trail of colored lights, speckles, and a whole range of special effect portraits.

Get subject to move while shooting

This is the opposite of the above.  Here you keep the camera still and get your subject to move as soon as the flash goes off and then immediately hold still again.  This time you will get special or double image effects of your subject – two heads or arms, etc.  Try out these two tips – moving the camera or the subject, for truly unusual night portrait photographs.
    

Bokeh

Bokeh refers to the background or parts of your photograph that are not in focus.  It is a known fact that in photography, unfocused points of light will take on the shape of the aperture.  Use this to get creative with your night portraits.  Make a lens hood with an aperture of a particular shape – stars, planets, crescents, animals or anything you can think of.  Now take a picture of your subject against a backdrop of street lights.  All the lights in the background will appear in the shape you have used as your lens hood!!

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