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Complete newbie needs advice for night shots of people in Times Square

edited June 2013 in home
Hi, I am new to the forum as well as photography in general, but am eager to learn all I can! We are taking our first trip to NYC in less than two weeks and I really want to be able to get some good photos of my kids/husband in Times Square with both the city lights and them properly exposed. I find lots of articles on city night photography, but none of them include people. The limited equipment I have is a Nikon D5100, 18-55mm kit lens, 55-300mm 4.5-5.6 lens, 50mm 1.8 lens and an inexpensive speedlight. Is this even possible with what I have or am I aiming too high? Any help or advice for settings would be greatly appreciated!


  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Times Square is so brightly lit at night that you can easily do available light photos there.

    The 50mm and the 18-55mm lens should do just fine there.

    Keep in mind that NYC is huge and tall, and your tele-zoom will most likely not see much of a work-out.
  • Neil,
    Thank you so much for your reply. I can't wait to get there and see what I can come up with! I know it's probably like second nature for you and the others on here, but it seems like so much to remember with constantly changing lighting situations, moving and not moving subjects etc when you are trying to make quick exposure adjustments so you don't miss the shot. I'm a little overwhelmed, but I can't wait to put into practice the things I've read in the last few months. We will only be there for 3 days and I don't want to miss a thing!
  • qrickmanqrickman Member
    edited June 2013
    Put your camera into (M) manual, with your speedlight turned off take a photo of just the city lights. Adjust your setting until you get a good exposure of the city lights, a good starting point at night is 1/60 F 4.0 ISO 800. Once you have the city lights exposed correctly, turn your speedlight on and take a photo with your family and the city lights. Try to keep one person that you are lighting with the speedlight in the center of the frame to make it easier for the camera to get the speedlight exposure correct. If the speedlight is over exposing your family turn down the camera’s Flash Exposure Compensation, I start at -2/3 stops as I want the lighting to look natural. When photographing your family make sure they are not too far away to keep them within range of the speedlight.

    To take photos during the day follow the same steps as above but set your shutter to 1/200 (fastest sync speed), ISO 100 and adjust your aperture until the background is exposed correct. Put the people you are photographing in shade or turn them so the sun is behind them, the speedlight will fill in the shadows.

    Try this before you come to NYC, street light and store fronts are good practice.

    Enjoy NYC

  • Quin,
    thanks so much! Exactly what I was looking for....a starting point for settings. I wrote them down and will have them in my camera bag. Getting excited for NYC :)
  • cargocargo Member
    Hi there. Just read your thread and was wondering how you went on. I only ask as I am going to Ny on the 8th of August and your question is one I would have asked.

  • qrickmanqrickman Member
    edited August 2013

    These are 4 photos straight out of the camera that were taken at Times Square NYC. 2 taken at night and 2 during the day, on camera flash was used for all the photos. To get the exposures I used the same step described above.

    Camera settings:

    Photo 1472 1/40 Sec, F.3.5, ISO 800
    Photo 1470 1/40 Sec, F.5.6, ISO 800
    Photo 1429 1/200 Sec, F.4.5, ISO 100
    Photo 1434 1/200 Sec, F.7.1, ISO 100

    I hope this is helpful.

  • cargocargo Member
    edited September 2013
    Hi Quin.
    I'm really sorry for only just coming back on the forum. I somehow missed the reply before I left.
    Your advice is great for sure and pretty much what Niel teaches through out this site. Really great examples you uploaded which show the method in practice.

    Dispite my asking for the advice _____in reality I never even took a flash out with me on my meanderings around your fine city. I'm only a hobbyist and just take snaps as I wander around.

    I did take this one snap in Times square of My Wife and Daughter but without flash, I think you can tell that from the glowy skin tones.

    Again many thanks for your input.


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