How was this photo taken in terms of aperture, shutter speed and ISO, and also how was it edited in post. Does anyone have a clue?

I can't see any motion blur in the people dancing behind, nor any light trails, so I'm guessing the shutter speed must have been at least 1/15 or similar. And there is some background blur, so maybe aperture 2.8-3.5 or so? How does one get that vibrant color and the almost movie-poster-like texture of the skin. It seems smooth but with detail and contrast.

Any thoughts on how to edit images taken at night clubs in this manner?



2 Answers 2


It is obvious there is a strong light source illuminating the subject, possibly a flash shining through a medium sized modifier above and to the right of the camera.

A moderately wide aperture was used, probably somewhere around f/4 or so. If f/2.8 or wider had been used, the background would have been much blurrier. And I would guess the shutter speed was also significantly shorter than 1/15 or there would be a lot of motion blur apparent on the dance floor. Without knowing the level of the ambient lighting in the room and the type and amount of noise reduction applied it is difficult to hazard a guess as to ISO used, but in such environments ISOs ranging from 3200 to 6400 are not uncommon to get reasonably fast shutter times, say 1/60 to 1/100 seconds at f/4 or so.

It appears the white balance has been adjusted based on the blown highlights in the white shirts in the background. Fully saturated areas will look white regardless of the WB used, so they are not the best spots to select for using the WB clicker or similar tools. Doing so can get some strange effects at times. If you use the midtones on the shirts, you get a white balance something such as this:
enter image description here
Notice the change in WB also increases the apparent contrast. This is because the colors of ambient light most predominate in the scene are being reduced in intensity while the colors opposite them on the color wheel are being increased. This makes the background look darker. If you adjust white balance based on the foreground subject (specifically, assume the brightest spot of his most illuminated tooth is white), you get a white balance more like this:
enter image description here
Notice the skin tones in the areas that show the most light from the light source above and to the right of the camera look most natural. Skin illuminated more by the club's pink/blue led lights show the typical purplish pink cast of that type of lighting.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Great analysis, but I thing maybe a little full-frame oriented. I think you could trade ISO for aperture using an APS-C : one should have similar result using 800 or 1600 ISO at f/2.8 with an APS-C body. \$\endgroup\$
    – Olivier
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 20:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ At f/2.8 the background would be much blurrier, APS-C or FF. The difference in focal length needed to get the same FoV from the same shooting position would offset the difference in FoV if using the same focal length from the same position. But APS-C would be noisier and require more postprocessing to get everything this smooth without killing the details. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 22:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Might just be the spray tan but it looks like a warming gel might have been used on the key light. \$\endgroup\$
    – HamishKL
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 9:47

There is bright light from flash or lamp (notice, that the person is hiding his eyes from it). This allows to use much shorter shutter speed than 1/15th. Background blur suggests wide aperture. The light in this club is rather pink than white, so I would suspect that white balance would need to be adjusted.


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