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One-Light Night Landscape

New in the Strobist Reader Gallery is Jonathan Boeke's night shot of a stand of trees.

It's done with multiple pops, during a time exposure. And it is easier than you might think. Keep reading for a few tips on creating shot like this, next time you are alone in the woods at night...

For this shot, Jonathan walked to a spot behind each tree and fired a Nikon SB-600 with a green gel back at the camera while the shutter was open during a time exposure. (You can click on the pic for the comment thread, and his explanation.)

If you have a camera that supports multiple exposure, you can eliminate a lot of noise (and logistical problems) from the frame by shooting the frame as a sequence of higher-shutter speed multi-exposure shots.

But you'd need a shutter cord and a third remote (or a helper and a tripod) to do that. You can see how to do the channel-hopping relay mode here.

If you wanna go multi exposure, you can do it with no remotes at all. Just open that shutter and start running. I've pulled together a few ideas to help your photo, and save some work in post production.

• Wear dark clothing. Nice to have a dark hoodie, too, just in case you do not have one of those face-hiding ninja masks lying around.

• Snoot the flash just a teensy bit. You still want a nice, wide beam, so just do a half-inch or so. Black gaffer's tape works great. But that little ridge will help avoid blowback in the exposure, which can light you up if you have limbs visible to the camera.

• Mount a very dim light source close to the vertical axis of the lens at the camera. Maybe an LED flashlight, aimed up, mounted to the hot shoe. This will let you know when the tree is hiding you (and your flash) from the camera very precisely as you walk around in the background.

• Consider varying your distance from behind the trees as you pop each flash shot. You can throw light a long distance, and light up big chunks of your background that way. Be sure to crank up the power some (adjust with a few test shots) to account for the increased flash-to-blocking-tree distance. And multiple pops could be your friend here, too.

• If you aim the flash up a little (or a lot) you'll light the leaves in the trees better. Especially in the background, where more height from the trees will be visible to catch the light. This will also avoid the hot spot being visible at your feet.

• Remember that the light behind the far trees acts as a nice rim for the nearer trees, so take that light-to-subject distance into account when planning how far back to get behind the rear light pops. (Remember L102 Position -- evenness increases with distance.)

• Watch your ambient lights, to keep from tracking. Gaffer tape everything that would give off light while you are busy walking around in your frame. Your flash ready light and info panel backlight need to go dark. Ditto anything else that might be glowing or blinking, like a Pocket Wizard status LED.

If you are gonna try this on your own, tag your shot "strobist" and "backlitforest" (the latter is all one word) so we can see all of them at once by clicking here. I am thinking of trying one myself, and it might be fun to revisit in a future post.


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