Avoiding the "Snap Shot" Look?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by newb, Jan 28, 2010.

  1. newb

    newb TPF Noob!

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    So, the other day was my sons birthday. I was sitting next to him taking pictures as he opened his gifts. Keep in mind, this is in a moderately lit room, but not ideal for taking pictures. I later noticed that most of the pictures had a "snap shot" feel to them. By that I mean, having the subject almost over exposed while the back ground is slighty under exposed. For the record, I was using my on camera flash which I'm sure is a major cause of my problem.

    Being as I have all these pictures to work with, does anyone have any tips on what to do while editing to help em out?

    Tips on what to do while shooting in these situations would be great. Am I pretty much stuck with this until I get a better flash and some sort of diffuser? Thanks.
     
  2. Dominantly

    Dominantly TPF Noob!

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    A better hot shoe flash will give you much better results, especially if you are using it off camera.

    Can you post a photo or two for us to see?
     
  3. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    For birthday parties and stuff like that, I don't worry too much about them being snapshots - really, that's what they are.

    A more powerful flash, bounced off the ceiling or something, would work.

    I would try to avoid using the pop-up flash... Open all the curtains - get as much natural light in there as you can.
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    A slower shutter speed will help brighten up the background.

    A larger lens opening, like f/4.8 instead of f/11, will also help the background exposure to be more generous, while the camera or the flash unit will control the near-distance flash-exposed parts of the picture.

    A higher ISO setting will also allow the background to be exposed more, while the camera (or the flash unit) will control the near-distance exposure levels on the foreground areas in most automatic flash control modes.

    All three of these things together can be use, or two of the three controls can be used together. One can also add a 4th control--the level of flash exposure.

    Bouncing the flash off of the ceiling or a nearby wall tends to disperse the flash output over a MUCH larger area than if the flash is on-camera and aimed straight ahead at the subject. Indoors, a flash exposure mode that Nikon uses is called TTL-BL, which is Through The L ens- B alanced L ighting,and is a mode where the camera will try to use the appropriate shutter speed to produce a well-lighted background with a small amount of flash in the foreground, in an effort to produce "balanced" lighting in both the foreground's flash-lit area, and the background's ambient-lit areas.

    If you do not have a sophisticated flash unit, or a one-click exposure mode, what you have to do is figure out the exact balance of 1) flash output level and 2) ISO setting 3) shutter speed and 4) lens f/stop in use. It's not an easy thing for a beginner to understand because there are four variables to adjust and experiment with. The shutter speed does NOT, I repeat, does NOT affect the flash exposure--it affects how bright or dark the non-flash-lighted areas appear.
     
  5. HikinMike

    HikinMike No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Me too, sometimes it okay to shoot snapshots! ;)
     
  6. newb

    newb TPF Noob!

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    Ill get some posted tommorow. I'm not at my comp now.

    I'm not against the snap shot look totally, Id just like to give these a little help lol. Also, I forgot to mention this was after dark, so I couldn't use sunlight.

    Aperture was wide open, shutter speed was about as high as I could get away with. My son is only 1 year old, so I needed all the shutter speed I could get to freeze his movement. ISO was 400. In a case like that should I add ISO, leave the aperture wide, and use shutter speed to get a compromise between blur and light?
     
  7. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Quote: "Aperture was wide open, shutter speed was about as high as I could get away with. My son is only 1 year old, so I needed all the shutter speed I could get to freeze his movement. ISO was 400. In a case like that should I add ISO, leave the aperture wide, and use shutter speed to get a compromise between blur and light?"

    Well, the "high" shutter speed is what makes the background darker than desired. The flash's exposure is rapid--very,very rapid, so the shutter speed could easily have been slowed down to something like say, 1/45 second indoors, while an automatic flash burst might be as brief a duration as 1/1750 to 1/2500 or even 1/3000 second. You CAN easily use a slow-ish shutter speed, like 1/6 second to 1/20 second to make a dark indoor living room or family room look bright; the flash's high-speed burst will freeze a small kid's movement under most situations.

    Not sure what wide-open aperture your lens has--if that means f/2.8 then the shutter speed would be rather fast; if by wide-open your lens only admits something like f/5.6, that would be only two stops' difference.

    Without seeing the situation you were shooting in, or any photos, and for something like a birthday gift opening, I think you could use ISO 400 at f/5.6 and bounce the flash off of a normal-height ceiling (NOT a 16 foot cathedral ceiling for example) and get pretty decent exposures in the range of from 1/20 second to as fast as 1/180 second--depending on how bright it is in the room, and the season of the year. (summer in LA vs. winter in Seattle would determine how bright it is in the room)

    If you have a digital camera, it's something you can work out with your lens, your living room, and your camera and flash. Sometimes you'll want to match the f/stop, shutter speed, and ISO to get the perfect exposure for say, a picture window, or a living room table lamp, sot he exposure might be f/8 at 1/180 second at ISO 400 with a FULL-power flash, for a daylight + flash indoor shot. If yuo are shooting at NIGHT-time indoors and there are no lights within the photo, your proper indoor shot might be more like ISO 800 at f/5.6 at 1/20 second, or even slower.
     
  8. AliasPros

    AliasPros TPF Noob!

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    Bokeh, use large appature lenses with no flash and also what propgram u editing in? I can't begin to give you tips unless I know and if it's Picasa don't even reply....
     
  9. gsgary

    gsgary Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You can't beat Picasa for event shooting and printing onsite:p
     
  10. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    And a slower shutter speed of 1/6-1/20 would possibly expose the scene enough to add motion blur. If 2nd curtain sync isn't available for the on camera flash, then the blur will look worse than it would with 2nd curtain sync on.

    Kids don't stand still very long.
     
  11. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    I think AliasPros means Depth-Of-Field (DOF), not bokeh. DOF is controlled by subject-to-lens distance, subject-to-background distance, and aperture.

    Bokeh is an unmeasurable, visual quality an OOF (out-of-focus) background has to one degree or another. People know good bokeh and bad bokeh when they see it, but don't always agree which is which.
     
  12. newb

    newb TPF Noob!

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    Aperture was in the f4 to f5 neighborhood, and shutter speed was 1/20. I forgot to include that in the first post, sorry.

    So, I think my next purchase is goin to be a hot shoe flash (since Im wanting to try my hand at "strobist" type shots anyways), and another lens. Its lookin like thats my best bet at improvement right now, which I kinda figured anyways.

    Picasa?! I use Photobucket for all my editing needs!

    No really tho, I use GIMP.

    Im loadin a picture or 2 now, Ill post them in a few.
     

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