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Shooting Pictures in Night Portrait Mode with a Canon EOS Rebel T3 Series Camera

As its name implies, Night Portrait mode on the Canon Rebel T3 and T3i is designed to deliver a better-looking portrait at night (or in any dimly lit environment). Night Portrait does so by combining flash with a slow shutter speed. That slow shutter speed produces a longer exposure time, which enables the camera to rely more on ambient light and less on the flash to expose the picture. The result is a brighter background and softer, more even lighting.

A slower shutter speed means that you might need a tripod. If you try to handhold the camera, you run the risk of moving the camera during the long exposure, resulting in a blurry image. Enabling the Image Stabilizer (IS) feature of your lens (if available) can help, but for nighttime shooting, even using that may not permit successful handheld shooting. Your subjects also must stay perfectly still during the exposure, which can also be a challenge.

Night Portrait mode also differs from regular Portrait mode in that it renders the scene in the same way as Scene Intelligent Auto in terms of colors, contrast, and sharpness. So shots taken in Night Portrait mode typically display sharper, bolder colors than those taken in Portrait mode.

Other Night Portrait settings to note:

  • Drive mode: The default setting is Single, but you also can switch to the 10-Sec/Remote Control or Continuous Self-Timer options.

  • Flash: Flash is enabled when the camera thinks more light is needed — which, assuming that you’re actually shooting at night, should be most of the time. You can set the flash to Red-Eye Reduction mode (Shooting Menu 1) if you prefer.

  • Autofocusing: The AF mode is set to One-Shot, which locks focus when you press and hold the shutter button halfway down.

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