Shooting into the Sun/Bright backgrounds

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by PhotoJunkieJen, Nov 21, 2008.

  1. PhotoJunkieJen

    PhotoJunkieJen TPF Noob!

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    Hey guys!
    I was hoping you could help me out.
    I'm wanting to learn to proplerly expose a subject with a bright background... but I don't want the subject to be silhouetted and I don't want to blow out the background with my fill in flash.
    Any ideas about how to better expose the shot?
    How can I shoot into the sun without killing the sky with a flash... or leaving my subject merely a silhouette.

    I know I can use some sort of filter for nature shots... beaches, mountains, etc. But what about when you have people as your subject and a bright sky as your background?
     
  2. davebmck

    davebmck TPF Noob!

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    Your flash won't affect the sky at all. You should expose for the sky and let your flash properly expose the subject.
     
  3. PhotoJunkieJen

    PhotoJunkieJen TPF Noob!

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    So, on manual, meter the background and fill in flash for the foreground?

    This type of scenario is the best example I can give, by the way.
    There's a pretty beach behind them, ,but you'd never know it :lol:

    I filled in flash so faces would be properly exposed. But then the background looks so blown out.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2008
  4. davebmck

    davebmck TPF Noob!

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    Exactly. In that picture, you would meter for the sky or beach and set your exposure for that. If your using ttl metering for your flash, it should automatically set the flash power to expose the subject (the people in this case).
     
  5. ANDS!

    ANDS! No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    In your situation, even shooting at your highest sync speed for flash, would most likely not bring that beach in line. What you want in this situation (if you want the beach in the shot) is to use your cameras High Sync mode (if it has it) so that you can shoot at 1/2000 shutter speed (or whatever speed you need), and let your dedicated flash (High Speed isn't possible with on camera flash) expose the folks inside the restaurant.

    This works whether you are indoors or out.
     
  6. Big Mike

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

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    Firstly, you can't blow out the sky with your flash. The built-in flash on most cameras, has a range of maybe 20-30 feet max. A good hot-shoe flash might be a couple hundred feet.

    The exposure of the sky is controlled by the aperture, the shutter speed and the ISO.

    I think I know what you are trying to do...
    Firstly, you need to meter for the sky. You want an exposure that won't overexpose the sky, maybe even under expose it a little bit, to bring out the deep colors. Depending on how bright it is, this will probably mean using a rather fast shutter speed and a rather small aperture.

    Now, at these settings, your subject will probably be a silhouette...so you want to use your flash to light them up. With an SLR camera, there is a 'max sync speed', which is the fastest shutter speed that will work properly with flash. 1/200 is a common max speed for modern DSLR cameras. So you would be limited to that shutter speed (1/200 in our example). This might mean that your exposure for the sky might be 1/200 and F16.
    The smaller the aperture, the more flash power you need...and at F16, you need a lot of flash power, especially if your subject isn't very close to the flash. A built-in flash probably wouldn't cut it past 2 or 3 feet.

    So to do this, you may need a rather powerful flash. I do this with my Canon 430EX and it sometimes isn't enough powerful and I wish that I had a 580EX.

    So it really depends on how bright it is, how you want the sky to be exposed, how far away your subject is and how powerful your flash is.

    Another thing you can try, is to use a reflector to reflect some light back onto the subject. The good part is that you don't need to worry about the max sync speed and can just set your exposure how you want.

    Now, I should also mention that some flash units have a 'High speed sync' mode, which allow them to work with much higher shutter speeds. I've used mine at up to 1/8000. The flash does this by pulsing the light very quickly...like a strobe light. The problem is that you loose a whole lot of range....so unless you are very close to the subject, you are better off sticking with the max sync speed.

    So what camera/flash/gear do you have?
     
  7. itsajeepthing

    itsajeepthing TPF Noob!

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    thanks for the opportunity to learn something new - great topic!! :study:
     
  8. iriairi

    iriairi TPF Noob!

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    Not my thread, but thanks BigMike. Have you ever thought of teaching? Formally, I mean. And if you already do, well, lucky students.
     
  9. PhotoJunkieJen

    PhotoJunkieJen TPF Noob!

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    My gear is pretty basic. A 10 MP Rebel XTi and the lens that came with it.

    Unfortunately, I have far more photography desire than I have knowledge and money for gear. :lol:

    I've looked at 430 externals for Christmas, but we shall see, I guess.
     
  10. TwoRails

    TwoRails TPF Noob!

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    Good post. Good question, and good and informative answers.
     
  11. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I learned something today!

    (well, I probably should have know this, but I didn't damnit, so I learned something!) :)
     
  12. PhotoJunkieJen

    PhotoJunkieJen TPF Noob!

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    So, meter for the sky, use a fast shutter and and flash to light up your subject (possibly an external if Santa is feeling generous this year)... I think I can do that.
     

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