Advice on Setting up a Shot of Children in front of Christmas Tree

Started Dec 12, 2017 | Discussions thread
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NYY96 Junior Member • Posts: 44
Advice on Setting up a Shot of Children in front of Christmas Tree

Hello everybody,

Thanks in advance for taking a moment to consider the shot I am planning and for offering any advice.

What I would like to do is setup a shot of my children in front of our christmas tree to use as our holiday photo for the year.

Ultimately, I am looking to utilize a low-light shot of the Christmas tree along with a high-aperture so that I get a "fairy-light" effect from the lights and so the background appears to twinkle. Using my tripod and 'P' as a benchmark, I am able to get an excellent shot of the tree without the children with shutter speed of 1" as f/2.8. I have French Doors near the tree and I get a nice effect of the lights reflecting off the glass and our wood floors.

What I am wondering about is if I can use my flash (have both on-camera flash D7500 and a Nikon SB-500 Speedlight) along with the slow shutter speed to simultaneously light my kids in front of the tree but not create so much ambient/fill light that I lose all the effect of the background.

Is there any way to try and configure the speedlight so that the effect of the flash is very shallow? In other words, can I try and focus the light just on my kids, who will be sitting a few feet in front of the background? I have an umbrella and can configure the speedlight off-camera, but I'm a novice at flash photography so am looking for assistance.

I know that I can control the flash compensation in the camera, but is there anyway to adjust the length of time the flash fires?

I have experimented with the "Night Portrait" mode on the camera itself but this still produces much too much light. I took some test shots where I dropped both the exposure and my shutter speed, so that the flash will fire for a brief moment to capture the subject, but the shutter will stay open much longer to achieve the more dramatic background lighting that I am looking for. I was able to achieve "ok" results using my Wife as the test subject, but she was still a little dark.

Since my kids are young, and will likely move quite a bit, I expect to use my tripod to take a clean shot of the background first, so I could fix any ghosting in Photoshop afterwards by merging the two photos and just cleaning it up. I am a novice at Photoshop so generally achieve what I want by googling around for techniques. I'd like to try to get as close to the shot I want from the camera as possible and not go down a rabbit hole of photoshopping for hours on end.

Thank you in advance for any help you are willing to offer me!


Nikon D7500
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