Flash Overcoming Bright Backgrounds

CuriousCameras

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Here's a question about managing flash in a very bright window setting. We are used to continuous light in film and video. When we have a super bright background like a bank of windows with subjects in the foreground, we usually ND the windows and then light the foreground to get the right balance in exposure. If we cannot bring down the background with gel or other means we bring up the foreground luminance to get the balance we are looking for. Yes, this sometimes very bright and uncomfortable for those in the foreground, but it works.

We are a little confused how to do this with flash still photography. We grasp how to get the right exposure for foreground or background. But not sure how use flash to properly expose the foreground without blowing out the background.

Maybe we are thinking about this wrong. Our continuous logic wants to stop down so the windows are exposed properly and force the flash to compensate with more luminance on the foreground. We haven't figured out how to do this (even after searching for tutorials online.). And is this even the right method?

Please forgive in advance if this has been discussed and we missed seeing it. We would appreciate some advice on this. Thanks!
 

RAZKY

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Here's a question about managing flash in a very bright window setting. We are used to continuous light in film and video. When we have a super bright background like a bank of windows with subjects in the foreground, we usually ND the windows and then light the foreground to get the right balance in exposure. If we cannot bring down the background with gel or other means we bring up the foreground luminance to get the balance we are looking for. Yes, this sometimes very bright and uncomfortable for those in the foreground, but it works.

We are a little confused how to do this with flash still photography. We grasp how to get the right exposure for foreground or background. But not sure how use flash to properly expose the foreground without blowing out the background.

Maybe we are thinking about this wrong. Our continuous logic wants to stop down so the windows are exposed properly and force the flash to compensate with more luminance on the foreground. We haven't figured out how to do this (even after searching for tutorials online.). And is this even the right method?

Please forgive in advance if this has been discussed and we missed seeing it. We would appreciate some advice on this. Thanks!
Normally you would set the camera to expose for the background, and the flash to expose for the foreground.
 

Sharpshooterr

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Curious, welcome to TPF!
The process in case you want to research it is called, "balancing the light".
It means merely to expose the foreground and the background the same, or balance it, light-wise.
In order to do that you HAVE to add light to the foreground as been mentioned. And as has been mentioned you expose for the brightest part of the photo then add light to the foreground till they appear to have equal amounts of light or whatever your goals are.
Personally for this type of photography I would shoot everything on full manual including the flash to best control the light of all of the scene. I've posted an example of a balanced scene as you have described that was taken on a very bright day. The result is almost like taking two separate photos and then combining them.
Speaking of combining, using the HDR method very similar results can also be achieved without the use of a flash at all! Again welcome and good luck.
SS
 

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CuriousCameras

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Curious, welcome to TPF!
The process in case you want to research it is called, "balancing the light".
It means merely to expose the foreground and the background the same, or balance it, light-wise.
In order to do that you HAVE to add light to the foreground as been mentioned. And as has been mentioned you expose for the brightest part of the photo then add light to the foreground till they appear to have equal amounts of light or whatever your goals are.
Personally for this type of photography I would shoot everything on full manual including the flash to best control the light of all of the scene. I've posted an example of a balanced scene as you have described that was taken on a very bright day. The result is almost like taking two separate photos and then combining them.
Speaking of combining, using the HDR method very similar results can also be achieved without the use of a flash at all! Again welcome and good luck.
SS
Thank you! We will test this in our upcoming session. Appreciate the advice!
 

Tinstafl

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For portraits and moving things you will need to use HSS on the flash. This lets you up the shutter spEd to get the background you want. In other words expose for the background and get a powerful flash and diffuse it. A ad600 or better on HSS so it will work at speeds of 1/1000. The reason for the power is it is cut down when in HSS
 

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