LOGIN/SIGN UP function is disabled for upgrade and maintenance. It will resume on 22/01/2022 10.30 AM SGT. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.
Tips & Tutorials >> All Tips & Tutorials In Focus: EOS R- Part7

3 Ways to Light Your Portraits When Shooting at Night with the EOS R


When one thinks of night photography, dazzling cityscapes and blazing light trails usually come to mind. Inspired by filmmaker Wong Kar Wai’s penchant for vivid colours and darker tones, we explore 3 unconventional locations to do a portrait shoot at night. From using different sources of light to creating the right mood using shadows, here are the results. 

1. Illuminate portraits using dimly-lit corridors

pink lit room with girl

EOS R, EF24-105mm f/4L IS lens, f/4, 24mm, 1/100sec, ISO4000

The lack of light is one of the biggest challenges of night photography.  But this challenge can bring about an interesting play of highlights and shadows in your images. When looking for a light source, use dimly-lit corridors to your advantage by thinking about how the light would hit your subject. For this shot, we leveraged the neon lights from a building’s corridor to illuminate our subject. Having our subject sit under the lights made her appear as if she’s bathed in a psychedelic purple glow.

The new Canon EOS R full-frame mirrorless camera boasts a low-light focusing limit of up to EV-6 at the central focus point—a first in the EOS series— for highly precise focusing even in low-light conditions.

2. Create the right mood at an underpass

girl in shadow under a tunnel

EOS R, EF24-105mm f/4L IS lens, f/4, 105mm, 1/200sec, ISO8000

Who knew an underpass would provide the setting for dramatic shots? Choosing the right setting helps to set the stage and frame your night portraits in more interesting ways. We were curious as to how the lighting at an underpass would translate in photos and as it turns out, we were not disappointed. 

In this photo, our subject stands at the entrance of the tunnel, just under the light overhead. This casts a partial shadow on her face and arms to form a silhouette. With the Canon EOS R, which boasts up to 5,655 selectable AF points, we were able to enjoy the freedom of focusing on any part of the frame. Plus, its ISO sensitivity range of 100-40000 means we were able to capture high quality shots even at night.

Learn why it’s important to master ISO speed when shooting at night.

3. Make portraits pop with neon signs

girl in front of neon lights

EOS R, EF24-105mm f/4L IS lens, f/4, 50mm, 1/320sec, ISO4000

After playing with highlights and silhouettes, we explored the various angles at which light hits our subject. With its saturated light and sharp contrast, a neon sign would help produce more interesting portraits. Instead of having our subject stand in the middle of a neon sign, we asked her to stand as close as she could to the sign so it would cast a seductive glow on her skin. Ensure the sign is bright enough to illuminate your subject from a distance. Not only does this define your subject’s face, it adds drama to your portraits.

For best results, use a high ISO setting and a wide aperture. Ask your subject to stay still to prevent blurred images. The Canon EOS R also features Eye Detection AF, which can detect and focus on your subject’s pupil, ideal when shooting portraits as it requires you to focus accurately on the subject’s face.

For more tips on night photography, check out Tips to Create Light Painting Photos with Torch and Glow Sticks and how to Shoot Beautiful Night Portraits with No Tripod, No Flash.


Receive the latest update on photography news, tips and tricks.

Be part of the SNAPSHOT Community.

Sign Up Now!