Maybe it’s cliche, but one of the best subjects to photograph in the Pittsburgh area is it’s nighttime skyline. But there are 1000’s of photographs published of the beautiful Pittsburgh skyline in different variations every year, so to keep it original, I think it makes a better background than subject.
If you have a really good, fast lens (f/1.8 or faster), with decent bokeh, you can use the interesting collage of orange and white specs of light from the streetlights and buildings to serve as a visually appealing background for portrait shots. The pictures were taken below with a Nikkor 35mm DX for my D80 at f/1.8. I had to bump my ISO up pretty high to deal with not having a tripod, but even on my little DX D80 at ISO800, the f/1.8 lens provides the freedom to shot hand-held and get great results. These are not processed in Lightroom or Photoshop in any way other than resizing for the web, which speaks volumes about the power of using prime lenses.
Note: The green hue on Valerie is cast by the Mercury vapor streetlight behind us. It was hard to achieve white balance while maintaining the warm glow from the Sodium vapor lights of Pittsburgh, so I’m just dismissing it as artistic license. 😉 The different types of streetlights allow for a lot of creative color choices when shooting at night. We’ve all seen streetlights with hues ranging from blue, purple, amber and green, and they can be really difficult to mix well. This particular night, the session was impromptu, and I was less worried about shot composition, and more interested in just getting some nice shots of Valerie.