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How to prevent this?


TPF Noob!
Apr 20, 2009
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I was in a situation where I was taking photos at a local park for a baseball team. The time was 10:00 AM, blue sky (not a cloud in the sky), bright sun and one tree in the whole park (no leaves, just beginning to bud). I had the players stand in the shade that was available; however, the sun was reflecting off the grass and other objects in the background (extremely bad). I tried setup upon setup to reduce the glare and hotspots before I finally gave up and took the photos. Here is a photo for reference. Can anybody offer advice on how to prevent the hotspots (in red)? What can I do when in this type of situation, settings or setup to try?


I think one of your issues may be the background being so white + them in the shade.

You have to remember the 18% rey metering system. Your camera will meter on the player's face, which is darker than 18% grey, and thus lighten the exposure. By doing so, anything that is brighter than 18% grey will also be lightened.

The sky is usually lighter and when the meter overexposes it, it will blow it out.

Your camera cannot apply different exposure on different parts of the picture (at least, not to my knowledge). You decide what your main exposure subject should be, and the camera meter adjusts the rest.

I'm no pro, but I think that if you kept them in a brighter area, where the overall lighting in the picture is similar, the blow outs wouldn't be as bad.

Another option would be to use a different background for the players so there isn't a huge contrast in the brightness of the sky and the darkness of their faces. Use a tree as a background, zooming in more. Or maybe the stands.

Or you can try angling the camera down a bit to have less sky in the picture, and maybe even get higher than the player as well.

With the camera on a tripod, you can also take a picture with no kids in it and metering on the sky to ensure that it comes out nice. Without moving the camera, you have the kids come in and take their pictures. You'll have to merge the two images in post processing. Not sure how well this would work though.

I'm hope what I am saying makes sense and is correct
Definitely makes sense. I shot in a similar situation with not quite as much "blow out".

Days like that really make me appreciate overcast skies.

Thanks for all the feedback.
I would suggest shooting this completely manual and in RAW format if you have it. With photos like these your going to want the ability of RAW to go back and edit photos like these.

My suggestion for the background problem tho would be open up (raise) your f-stop to maybe...14-ish? and lower your shutter speed till you find the one that makes for a good balance. This will get rid of the intensity of the blur in the background and create a better balance of light in the overall photo. Use a flash or 2 if nessicary, they will really help stop motion when your using a slower shutter speed.

Another suggestion to go along with that would to be use a tripod and a remote shutter release because it might reuire bringing your shutter speed a little to slow for holding so you definately don't want blur from holding it or moving it on a tripod when you press the action button and lastly you don't want your shutter speed so slow that your subject can't stay still for that long and creates blur by moving a little.
First, you don't shoot.
Not much you can do with a background like that.

A portrait photographer shiould always aware of the background and lighting on the subject. You should have found a different area to take the photo.

Whenever I am taking photo's I spend a lot of time on what the background will appear in the image ... before I take the image. If the background does not work, I find another place/background.
You've got a subject in the shade and a background that is in full sun. Thats a 3 stop difference in average brightness. Of course this will happen.


1. rearrange the shot so that everyting is in the shade or in the sun.
2. add lighting to the subject to bring the light level up to that of the background.
3. Shoot RAW and do multiple conversions of each image (one for foreground and one for background plus possibly one in between) and stack them.

#1 is best most of the time, but only if possible. Some locations make an all shade shot impossible and an all sun shot will suffer from harsh shadows on a cloudless day.

#2 is a common method but requires some substantial additional light. Its not something you can do well with a single camera mountable flash. Flash also puts limits on the shutter speed which in turn forces smaller f/stops throwing the background more in focus. If done with reflectors, they must be in the sun to catch enough light, which makes choice of the shooting locations tricky. Adequate reflectors will be large and next to impossible to handle without an assistant to manage. The slightest wind would topple even a heavily weighted stand.

#3 is fine for a few shots, but overly laborious for a whole team's pictures. If you try it, you generally want to use a relatively low ISO to get the longest tonal range.
I see you've already gotten some advise, but I just want to emphasize: putting them in the shade, in that situation,was not the best choice. If you left them out in the sun, the light level on your subject would have been closer to that of the background, giving you better overall exposure.

To be honest, shooting them out in the sun would probably have given you satisfactory results. I'd only worry about having a better setup prepared if your shooting professionally, or your worried about artistic or technical merit.
my suggestion is go strobist-style!!! :)

turbo charge your shutter speed, maybe around 1/100 to 1/200 to dim the background light, then open up your aperture, and don't forget your strobes!

but that's just how I'd shoot it. :)

i also would like to know how to set up a shot like this properly. (if there is a proper way to do it! ) :)
1 - Read about dynamic range
2 - Read about histograms
3 - Learn how to expose to make sure you don't burn highlights or block shadows (using the histogram)
4 - If you cannot achieve point 3 because of the limited dynamic range of your camera, use fill flash or shoot under different lightconditions.
3. Shoot RAW and do multiple conversions of each image (one for foreground and one for background plus possibly one in between) and stack them.

This will not work if you exceed the dynamic range of your camera. If the camera did not record any data (in the white areas) you won't be able to recover it from the RAW file as it is simply not there.

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