All to often, photographers don't really want to share their techniques and secrets. They seem to think that showing people how to do something will diminish their work, and therefore shed their mystique with their customers. I find that frustrating, as photography is art, and art is specific to the artist who creates it. After all, a painter has a style all their own, and nobody will recreate their style better than them. So, with that in mind, here is a tutorial on how to achieve a desired effect for your photographs. (Note, all products recommended here are linked at the bottom of the post.)
The photo here is the final, edited image. This was a senior photo shoot, taking place at Gas Works Park in Seattle, WA. My client wanted a photo of herself in front of the skyline, as the sun was setting and the city was beginning to "glow". THE PROBLEM....if you've ever tried this yourself, you'll know that the camera gets confused when "metering" the scene, and the subject of the photo will often times be silhouetted against the brighter backdrop. Or, on the other hand, your flash my light the subject, but then the city lights don't show up as well.
THE SOLUTION....by using a manual (you adjust the settings yourself) flash, off camera, you can light up your subject, while your camera meters the light from the background. In the end you will have a background exposed to your liking, as well as a properly exposed subject. You'll need a flash, of course. I recommend the Yongnuo 560-III, and a flash "trigger"...the trigger sits in your camera's hotshoe and emits a radio signal to the flash when you press the shutter button down. It's very easy to use, and you simply adjust the flash output up or down to give you the desired result in your photo. Sure, there are much more sophisticated ways to do this, with light meters, expensive triggers, etc, but this method is simple and cost effective. I used a 24 inch softbox in this photo, and had an assistant hand hold the softbox. There are many stands that can hold the softbox, but in this case, I just used a person to hold it at about a 45 degree angle (right) to the subject, positioned above the subject's head.
The camera settings were:
Aperture: f10 (to darker the overall background of the photo and draw out the colors on the city)
Shutter Speed: 1/80