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How to shoot this for a better exposure
Old 06-24-2006, 09:16 AM   #1 (permalink)
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First off this is a new florida beauty that I met. More about her later.. My question is this.. The background was very bright and the sun was to the right and just behind her. With this setting and no reflector and no flash is there a way to force the camera to expose the model without the bright background forcing the camera to under expose the model ? And for the people with the 20d camera one other question. When you use the 70-200 zoom lens and you are about 30 ft from the model does the on camera flash work for you ? I have not had much luck with it..
Mike
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Re: How to shoot this for a better exposure
Old 06-24-2006, 10:32 AM   #2 (permalink)
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You can expose for the model and let the background blow out, but when the background is very bright compared to the model, you'll probably get a washed out look on the model.. Just set your camera to manual model and meter the model. If you don't have a meter, set your camera on "auto" and zoom in until the model fills your entire screen. Look at the reading on your camera, then switch to manual and set your aperture and shutter to that setting. Widen out and take your shot. Chimp, then adjust the shutter accordingly.

Your on camera flash is good for about 10 feet (in optimal settings). When the sun is that bright ... and you stand 30 feet back ... your on camera flash will be hopelessly overpowered.

What could you have done in this situation? Run to your car and grab your reflective car sunshade (almost everyone in Texas has one in their car) and use that as a reflector. -- OR -- Use a split ND filter to lessen the brightness of the sun on the top portion of your picture. -- OR -- put a polarizer on your lens to cut down on the brightness of the light reflecting off the water -- OR -- Move the model to a shaded area. -- OR -- Wait until the sun drops behind a cloud or until the sun sets more -- OR -- If you can drive your car on the beach, point to into the sun and open a door. Have the model stand so that the reflection from your door adds some light to her face. I like to use the door because you can adjust it easier than other car parts. And, after the sun sets you can use your car's lights to light the model.

I'm sure thqere are a lot of other ideas ... but the key is -- BE RESOURCEFUL

Picture of Jamie below was taken with a 70-200 at f2.8 using my on-camera flash. No meter -- just stood about 12 feet from the model, set the flash on full power, chimped, adjusted the shutter speed, then fired away.

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Re: How to shoot this for a better exposure
Old 06-24-2006, 10:36 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by That_Look_Photo
... The background was very bright and the sun was to the right and just behind her. With this setting and no reflector and no flash is there a way to force the camera to expose the model without the bright background forcing the camera to under expose the model ?
Yeah... take your camera off automatic and walk right up to her so that her chest is the only thing in your viewfinder. Take a reading and decide on an exposure based upon her front (the part in shadow). Then walk back to your shooting spot and fire away.

Or

Stay in your original shooting spot and leave your camera on automatic but add +1/2 EV, then +1 EV, then +1.5 EV (etc. etc.) until you find an expsoure that you like.

Neither one of these methods will make it so that the part of her that's directly illuminated by the sun will not blow out. All it does is add a bit of light to her front so that she's not in so much shadow.

A reflector is an inexpensive thing - you can purchase them or make your own (the best homemade one I have is from a Tyvek car windshield screen - can fold it up to fit in the camera bag... cost all of a couple of bucks at the local car parts emporium). If you really wanna get fancy, buy one that is white on one side and gold on the other... lets you modify the quality of the light.

And, you've already thought about fill flash.

Adding more light to the front (ala reflector or fill) would be the only way to improve the image like you probably want to.

I'll let the Canon guys fill you in on how to work the fill flash.
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Re: How to shoot this for a better exposure
Old 06-24-2006, 10:38 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Yes there is a way to force the camera to properly expose the subject (the model) and ingore the bright background.
You'll have to shoot in manual (at least that's going to be the most consistant mode)
and meter on the model by either zooming in or just walking up to her and meter right on her skin. Better yet, use a grey card.
Once you get the correct exposure figured out just dial in the settings and begin shooting. Now that you are in manual mode the exposures will all be the same..well, until the light changes that is.
Whether or not you can get decent results with an on-camera flash from 30 ft. will depend on the flash units output, among other things, such as the aperture you will be using.
What flash do you use and what GN (guide number) does it have? You can use the number to determine what aperture you'll have to use at 30 ft.
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Re: How to shoot this for a better exposure
Old 06-24-2006, 11:17 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Simply wonderful advice.

jt


Quote:
Originally Posted by Photomart
You can expose for the model and let the background blow out, but when the background is very bright compared to the model, you'll probably get a washed out look on the model.. Just set your camera to manual model and meter the model. If you don't have a meter, set your camera on "auto" and zoom in until the model fills your entire screen. Look at the reading on your camera, then switch to manual and set your aperture and shutter to that setting. Widen out and take your shot. Chimp, then adjust the shutter accordingly.

Your on camera flash is good for about 10 feet (in optimal settings). When the sun is that bright ... and you stand 30 feet back ... your on camera flash will be hopelessly overpowered.

What could you have done in this situation? Run to your car and grab your reflective car sunshade (almost everyone in Texas has one in their car) and use that as a reflector. -- OR -- Use a split ND filter to lessen the brightness of the sun on the top portion of your picture. -- OR -- put a polarizer on your lens to cut down on the brightness of the light reflecting off the water -- OR -- Move the model to a shaded area. -- OR -- Wait until the sun drops behind a cloud or until the sun sets more -- OR -- If you can drive your car on the beach, point to into the sun and open a door. Have the model stand so that the reflection from your door adds some light to her face. I like to use the door because you can adjust it easier than other car parts. And, after the sun sets you can use your car's lights to light the model.

I'm sure thqere are a lot of other ideas ... but the key is -- BE RESOURCEFUL

Picture of Jamie below was taken with a 70-200 at f2.8 using my on-camera flash. No meter -- just stood about 12 feet from the model, set the flash on full power, chimped, adjusted the shutter speed, then fired away.
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Re: How to shoot this for a better exposure
Old 06-24-2006, 01:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Well you've already got some good advice, but since you're using a Canon 20D, you don't have to switch to manual to shoot the shot. Just switch to partial metering. You'll see a faint circle in the middle of the viewfinder. Just make sure the area of the model that you want properly exposed is within that circle and none of the background. What ever the camera shows at that point for exposure is going to be close. Based on the example you post, you could do this without doing the typical lock exposure then recompose sequence.
If you want right on exposure for this type of light, then you can use a black/gray/white calibration target and the camera's histogram. In that case, you'd probably end up shooting in manual.



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Re: How to shoot this for a better exposure
Old 06-24-2006, 02:38 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I don't know if you have an incident meter as well, but you can hold that on the shadow side of the model (aiming the dome at where you plan on shooting from) and take your reading from there. Then just plug those setting manually into your camera. That'll expose properly for her shaded side, and everything behind her will be overexposed (which is not necessarily bad, depending on what you're looking for). That's how the image below was metered.

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Re: How to shoot this for a better exposure
Old 06-24-2006, 03:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The incident meter method will work just fine, but often you're not going to have one with you. The partial metering mode on the Canon 20D (as I mentioned in my earlier post) will give you basically the same results as the incident meter, and you always have the camera with you. The whole secret, in any event, is to meter the light that actually falls on the model and exclude the background light.

Another approach on these outdoor shots where you might not want to blow out the background, is to carry one of those little $20 flashes that you can just plop down anywhere close to the model and it fires when the flash on the camera fires. In this case, the on camera flash can trigger it, but at 20 feet or so, has no effect on the subject. The the small $20 flash can be placed just a few feet away. Then you meter for the background, and le the small flash provide the fill. This works nice and the small flash I'm talking about is not only cheap, but is very small. The one I have also has a suction cup on the bottom, but I've often just picked up a stick and used rubber bands to attach it to the stick and then place the stick in the ground close to the model.
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Re: How to shoot this for a better exposure
Old 06-24-2006, 09:02 PM   #9 (permalink)
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All the ideas sound good. And most of them I thought of . But what I wanted to do was not blowout the back ground and expose the model right. I guess I will need a better flash to balence the fill and the background light.

Thanks for all the replys...

Mike
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Re: How to shoot this for a better exposure
Old 06-25-2006, 01:09 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by That_Look_Photo
All the ideas sound good. And most of them I thought of . But what I wanted to do was not blowout the back ground and expose the model right. I guess I will need a better flash to balence the fill and the background light.

Thanks for all the replys...

Mike
You pretty much have five stops of range in any particular image. So (using your built-in partial/spot meter) if you meter the background and get f11 @ 1/250th. and then you meter the model's face and get f2.0 @ 1/250th. you've exceeded the range over which you will maintain detail. Never mind that, for caucasian skin, you usually need to open up one more f-stop than that what your camera meter reads. And the shadows? Fugeddaboutit. If you expose for her skin, the background gets blown. If you expose for the background your model becomes a silhouette. Expose in between and the backround is too light and the model is too dark.

Without some method of reducing the contrast range of the image there is no way you can force the camera to properly expose both the subject and the background. The contrast range in the scene exceeds the camera's ability to record it. For something that doesn't move, like a building, you can make two exposures (one for subject, another for background) and combine them in post.

But you can't really do that with a human subject. That's why you would typically employ a reflector or fill flash. They reduce the contrast range of the scene by adding light to the shadows. You want every important element in the image to fall within a five stop range. If I'm photographing a fair-skinned person, I start by metering the lit part of their face (don't meter shadows yet). I then meter the high values in my scene to make sure they're within 1-1/2 stops of my first meter reading. Next, I check my shadow values and make sure they don't fall below 3-1/2 stops of my first meter reading. Anything outside of that range is going to be devoid of texture. For a dark-skinned person, I'd keep the highlights within 2-1/2 or 3 stops and the shadows within 2-1/2 or 2 stops (depending on their coloration). Don't worry about specular highlights (sun on the water, mirrored surfaces, chrome, etc.). As long as they don't take up too much of your composition they won't distract very much.

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