Twinkle Lights Pullback - I need help and CC!

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StateChick's picture
Joined: 03/22/07
Posts: 3629
Twinkle Lights Pullback - I need help and CC!

Like everybody else, I tried to do the twinkle lights shot, and they are SOOO bad! I think I lack proper understanding to make this work. I set it up in my carport with light coming in from the right, because that is where I could rig my lights up. :rolleyes:

I started out using my Rebel XS/kit lens (18-55) in Av mode with the ap as low as it would go (I think 3.5ish in most), but for the life of me, I could not achieve any bokeh with the lights.

My cousin offered to let me use her 75-300mm lens, so then I tried with that.

Here is my set up:

I really had no idea how far to place my subject from the lights or how far I should be from my subject. I do know with that lens, I backed up as far as I could in my carport, because I had to with that lens.

I took test shots around 10am (with my lens) and 3pm (with hers) is a test shot with natural light around 3pm (I think). I was unable to achieve this look with my kids in the picture with the lights:

Here are some of the best ones of my kids - btw, I did shoot these in RAW, but don't have access to my laptop or desktop right now with my PSE. I "edited" these in Picasa, but I think these are the RAW files, not the jpgs. By edit, I mean add a little fill light and contrast. I also tried to adjust the WB on some of them, but not sure if I did on these that I posted. Not sharpened for web.

I know the the subject is grossly underexposed in all of them. I get confused on if it is called evaluative or compensation metering, but I had it set at +1 for some additional brightness, but by the time I got them out for pics (after their naps), it was close to and after 4 pm, so it was just a no go.

Number 1
SS 1/60 - ridiculously low, I know (but I couldn't adjust in Av mode, right...just depends on my lighting and other settings?)
ISO 800
AP 5.0 (as low as it would go)

Number 2
I may have a couple of her that turned out a little better than this, but they were all pretty bad. This is probably 30 minutes after ds' pictures and way darker out. Ugh.

SS 1/25 :eek: ISO 800 Ap 4.0

Can anyone tell me why I ended up with the reflection of lights on her face? This happened in DD2's pics, also.

Number 3

SS 1/30 ISO 800 Ap 5.0

Would better lighting have fixed any of my issues?
Would I have been better off using the kit lens?

rlcummings1223's picture
Joined: 09/19/11
Posts: 320

only add on i can give here is that you may need a lower aperature. I use my 35mm 1.8 usually if i want bokeh. I could never get good bokeh with the kit lens. The higher your aperature the more depth of field you're gonna have so a wide open aperature and faster shutter speed is better for this look i think. I haven't tried it yet and probably can't since my kids hate the camera and can't sit still for anything!! Maybe if you try again with more afternoon light so you have more options?

Ladybugsteph's picture
Joined: 06/21/06
Posts: 2977

You were zoomed in closer in the snowman shot than you were with the kids. That is most likely the difference. Focal length can have a major impact on bokeh. So, my suggestion: Use the longer lens, back them even further away from the lights, and you yourself back further away from them, then zoom and take the photo.

I hope to try this out myself soon.

AmberBella's picture
Joined: 02/15/07
Posts: 1831 need a LOT more light. The shutter speeds are way too slow to get sharp images.

I'd continue working with the 75-300 lens at the lowest aperture possible and at as close to 200mm as you can get. You'll get nicer bokeh at longer focal lengths and with lower aperture settings. Keep in mind that when you zoom out to 200mm you'll need shutter speeds at least 1/200 seconds fast.

StateChick's picture
Joined: 03/22/07
Posts: 3629

Thank yall!

Do I need to be practicing this in Manual instead of in Av mode?

If I am understanding my camera correctly, I can't adjust the shutter speed when I am in Av mode (just the aperture) - is that right?

eta: Stephanie, I had them about 8 ft from the lights - I need to move them even farther away, you think?

And any ideas on the lights on dd1's face? There is nothing that could be reflecting but my lens. Is it that? Or is it that the shutter speed is so slow that it is dragging somehow across her face?

sadieruth's picture
Joined: 06/09/05
Posts: 6219

Ya, I think when you use the AV mode all you can adjust is the ap and the camera adjusts the other settings for you.

I highly suggest Manual so you are totally in control. Your shutter speeds are way too low. Work with manual and learn how to control everything. You already got great feedback. Keep it up!

Amy_&_Eva's picture
Joined: 08/23/07
Posts: 2378

You're almost there! Just get more light in there and more distance or zoom, like Stephanie said, so you won't see the cords and the lines on the wall.

Joined: 07/30/06
Posts: 835

I haven't anything to add but I'd like to see your pics when you try again. I was thinking about trying this with my children but am seriously lacking in confidence

Amy_&_Eva's picture
Joined: 08/23/07
Posts: 2378

I did it yesterday finally, and I have VERY tight space to work sometimes they weren't bokeh-d enough; I found that having her farther away from the lights and having me closer to her OR using more zoom gave the best circles in the bokeh.

fudd8963's picture
Joined: 12/27/07
Posts: 1630

I attempted this on Saturday. Wasn't what I wanted to get, but not to bad considering my skills! LOL. It really makes me want to get a new lens though so I can open the ap up further to get more light and better bokeh.