The title says it all. You’re a event photographer in a venue with some interesting lighting that you’d like to include creative photos of in your album. Easy. Whether a DJ’s coloured laser light jumping around the walls and across people dancing at a party, or some fairy lights at an engagement dinner, the below should have you covered. The setting you are looking for on your camera is called ‘rear curtain sync’. We are not pros, we have written this post with help from a friend who is an established party photographer in melbourne.
Rear curtain sync tells the camera to flash twice instead of just the once. One flash when you initially click the button to take the photo, when the shutter opens, and, one flash when the shutter closes.
So, how do you use this in a creative way with the interesting lighting that you’ve found in your venue?
Adjust the settings on your camera to a slow shutter speed. We need a long enough shutter speed so that you have time to physically move the camera while the shutter is open. Anything below 1/10 will do, depending on how quick your hands are, and how long you want the shutter to be open to play with the light. If you set the shutter to 1/8 for example, this means the first flash will go off instantly freezing any subjects in the photo, and the second flash will go off 1/8th of a second later. You have that 1/8th of a second to play with the light in the photo.
Let’s set the scene, you’re a party photographer shooting a 21st birthday, and the venue has DJ lasers flying around the walls and across people’s body’s as they dance. Two people have lined up for a portrait photo on the side of the room but you want to capture the atmosphere of the venue and the essence of the party around them. Set your camera to the settings described above. Start to take the photo of the two subjects as normal. The first flash will go off and when this happens, physically move the camera with a flick of your wrists. This will move any lighting that appears in the photo in the same way of the motion of your movement. Remember, the subjects have been frozen by the first flash so you won’t need to worry about potential blur. Move the camera back to the subjects for when the second flash goes off. Check your photo. If you find that you have overexposed the image, tighten your aperture and set your exposure adjustment down until you find the perfect balance.
After a couple of tries, you will have mastered this technique for yourself. Practice makes perfect!