Learn how to Optimize the Panasonic G1/GH1 for night portrait scenes in this digital Photography tutorial from LBGuides.
Tags:Panasonic G1/GH1 - Night Portrait,Better Pictures,camera setup,digital camera guide,digital camera tutorial,Digital Photography,g1,gh1,night,panasonic,portrait
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To set up your camera for a night portrait, you may notice that the mode dial has a night portrait scene mode, a little star with the person icon, indicates night portrait. In the scene mode, the camera allows you to select from a few different options. The option best suited for night portrait is obviously night portrait. So press set, the camera will tell you to open the flash it isn’t already open. You just pop the flash here and it automatically sets the flash to a slow sync flash which is exactly what you want for night portraits.
Your intelligent exposure is automatically set. The ISO and white balance are automatically set and the auto-focus mode is set to face detect by default. You can’t change this to the single area of focus which personally I would recommend. It’s very simple, just press the auto-focus button right here and then move over to this single area focus and press set and now you’re back to the regular focusing brackets in the center.
The reason why I don’t like auto-face detect is because if your subject is not looking straight at the camera, the camera will not be able to recognize them. This way, I can place the brackets over the subjects face because I can recognize it. Press the shutter button half way, recompose and take the picture.
Now basically the only thing that makes this a night portrait is the fact that the flash is being used in this slow synchro setting which means the camera will pop the flash but it will also keep the shutter open long enough to expose through all the ambient light in the background. This is actually something that is very easily accessed in the program mode.
To turn your mode dial back to program, that’s the P on the mode dial. This is the mode we normally use. It provides us with a lot of flexibility. It’s great for beginners. In the program mode as always are auto focus is set to the single area focus, we have control over ISO and white balance unlike the night portrait mode and we just need to set up out flash so it’s a slow synchro flash, very easily done, just press the equipment you button up top, use the right or left navigation button or the dial up in the front area here. Let’s move over to the flash icon. Here, I can go down to the slow synchro flash setting. I can even choose slow synchro with red eye. Personally, I’m not going to use red eye so I’ll turn that off. In your case you can use either one that will come out petty much the same.
Press the set button, to escape. Now, all you want to do is set up the ISO and white balance to match your scene. To set the ISO, press the ISO button up here. And instead of using auto, I know a lot of people like to use the intelligent ISO, which is fine. I personally prefer to set an ISO since I did not bring a tripod with me, I need to use a high ISO in order to increase the sensitivity of the camera to the ambient light and increase the shutter speed, so I can hand-hold the camera without getting any kind of shake. So I’ll choose 800, press set. Now, I want to set my white balance. Because I’m using the flash, I want to make sure the white balance is set for the flash and not the ambient light. Flash is what’s illuminating my subject and that’s what I want to have properly white balanced. So press the WB button, move over to flash white balance and press set to escape.
Now the white balance and ISO are properly set. My flash is set to slow synchro and I can pretty much go ahead and take my picture. Make sure the brackets are over my subject. Press the shutter button half way. Make sure your shutter speed is fast enough. If it’s below 130th of a second, you may want to increase the ISO even more, recompose the image and press the shutter button, the rest of the way to take the picture.
Now, if the flash is too powerful or if it isn’t powerful enough and that is dependent on how far away the subject is from the camera, you can increase or decrease the power of the flash very easily.
Go ahead and press the menu button. In the record menu, go down to the second page and choose flash adjust. Press to the right. Use either the right or left navigation button or the dial up in the front to adjust the flash power. I’m going to go down to minus one because my subject may be a little close to the lens and I don’t want to overpower the subject. Press the set button. I set again to escape to my main menu. Now you’ll notice a small minus sign right next to my flash icon indicating the flash adjust function has been changed into the minus region.
Finally, the last trick that I want to show you, even though we’re in the program mode, we do still have some control over the aperture and shutter by using the dial, so when you press the shutter button half way, you’ll see what the shutter speed and aperture are set to. And if the aperture is too narrow, for example, mine right now is set to F10, which is not great for portraits because I’ll get too much of the picture in focus. I want to get just the person in focus and the background needs to be blurred out, so I want to change this. I release the button. Move the dial in order to change these figures. I want to open up that aperture as wide as possible, 3.5. This is great. Now, I can press the shutter button again and my aperture is properly set for a portrait and my shutter speed will be set accordingly.
If you’re outdoors at night, it won’t be at 4000th of a second because you don’t have nearly as much light as I do in here. You won’t be able to shift to your program settings this way when the ISO is set to intelligent ISO. So in order to get a wider aperture, if you’re using intelligent ISO, you’re going to have to use the aperture priority mode.
At this point, you can go ahead and take your picture just as you would any other. Remember, focus on the target, press the shutter half way, recompose then take the picture.
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