Canon Rebel XTi - Questions on shooting suits in direct light

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by trb_photo, Jul 27, 2008.

  1. trb_photo

    trb_photo TPF Noob!

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    Hello,

    I have a problem that I'm hoping someone can help with.
    I have a Canon Rebel XTi, and am having some difficulty shooting light-toned individuals wearing black-and-white suits (i.e., tuxedos). In almost every case, when shooting outdoors in anything other than dense shade, the subject's (facial) features are bleached out, or the entire image itself is rendered very pale. This only seems to occur when shooting at a distance, shooting with subject's full body in frame, or shooting larger groups of suit-wearing subjects. Close-ups of the face and upper torso typically turn out excellent by comparison.

    I've tried every automatic mode on my camera, but the problem still occurs. I know the solution will probably involve a specific manual adjustment; it's here that I'm looking to receive some guidance on which manual settings to use for achieving top-notch photos of suited subjects. Since I am a beginner, I ask that you please provide me with clear, step-by-step instructions and brief explanations of more advanced technical procedures.

    Thanks in advance for your assistance!

    R.B.
     
  2. rufus5150

    rufus5150 TPF Noob!

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    If you don't want to go completely manual, you could try metering on their flesh tone (get closer) and use the exposure lock.

    My success with attempting that has been mixed at best, however.
     
  3. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Best bet will be to use a grety card. Have the subject hold it in from of them, spot-meter the card (assuming even illumination overall), and then either set that exposure on manually, or use your exposure lock to hold the settings and expose the image. Don't forget that exposure is a ratio, so if your camera says "1/200 sec @ f16" you can also use 1/400 @ f8, or 1/800 @ f4 for identical results but varying depths of field.

    If you don't have or can't buy a grey card (18% Photo grey card - any major photographic supplier will stock them) then you can meter a patch of bright green grass (aprox same reflectivity) or the palm of a caucasian, and add one stop to that.
     
  4. rufus5150

    rufus5150 TPF Noob!

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    Is there any way to spot-meter with an XTi? (It doesn't have spot metering, evaluative, center weight and 'partial'.
     
  5. trb_photo

    trb_photo TPF Noob!

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    Seems that partial metering may be the way to go for an XTi.
    Any suggestions from XTi users on the best way to use partial metering for shooting suited subjects with light complexion? Would it just be identical to the spot-metering suggestions already posted?

    Thanks everyone for your prompt feedback.

    R.B.
     
  6. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think the XTI do not have the spot meter. :(

    And yes, I have the XTI as well.
     
  7. davebmck

    davebmck TPF Noob!

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    Just fill the frame with the grey card and set your exposure manually.
     
  8. trb_photo

    trb_photo TPF Noob!

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    Thanks to all for sharing your tips and expertise!

    R.B.
     
  9. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    As others have mentioned, a big part of your problem is metering.

    Firstly, you need to understand that the camera's meter wants to take an average of what it sees and give you an exposure that will be mid-toned (18% grey)...basically a grey card. That's why using a grey card can give you 'accurate exposure'. Also, it's important to think about what parts of the scene the meter is reading. You say that the problem is more prevalent with shots where the subject is farther away (taking up less of the scene). This is because the camera's meter is reading the surrounding areas as well, and taking that into account. The camera doesn't know that you care more about the person.
    One way around this, would be to take a meter reading right off of the subject (preferably a mid tone area on the subject (not a black or white spot). Then remember those settings or lock them into your camera. Then back up, zoom out and compose your shot.

    Secondly, you need to realize the limits of your medium. A camera can only capture a limited range of tones (the dynamic range). For example, you can't retain detail in very bright areas and very dark areas in the same exposure. If you expose for the shadow areas, the bright areas get blown out. If you expose for the highlights, the dark areas get lost in shadow. As the photographer, you need to choose which is most important and expose for that. Often, it's a compromise.

    With digital cameras and digital editing, a good method is called 'Expose to the right'. This involves checking the histogram of your images (set your camera to display the histogram after the shot). You want the graph to be mostly to the right side (bright) but you don't want to 'clip' the edge of the graph because that is usually detail that is lost. The shot might look brighter than you want it to be, but it's better to edit an image that is a little to bright, than one that is a little too dark.

    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/expose-right.shtml
     

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