The golden hour for beginners

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Madhatter2011

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Yeah framing I didn't do so well lol. Is this sunlight good or bad? I love the lighter shadows yet it's very warm and I don't know how I feel about the tones. Every time I pull this camera out I learn something. Love reading all your posts. Such knowledge
 

soufiej

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First off. I was going for that hazy back light look. High exposure behind the person. Her hazy. If I wanted her to be bright I would have turned her. How was I suppose to get that effect without turning her? Just a reflector? I didn't want her bright.



Well, was the background hazy when you took the shot?

There are limitations to what the photographer can achieve when it doesn't exist to begin with. We had one member who said their photos lacked dramatic skies. Sure'nuff! there wasn't a cloud in the sky when they took their shots. You can do a tremendous amount in post production these days but it really is easier to make sure you have the photo you want in the frame before you snap the shutter.

Why would I care to look at haze?

Your main subject was the model, not the background. What you've said infers you felt the background was more important than the model. If you want to meter the sky with the shot you've taken, you're going to have exposure issues with the rest of the image. That's why some situations best fit spot metering.

What's the most important thing to us, the viewer, in your shot?

In almost any photo of a human or animal, the viewer's eyes will go first to the face of the subject and more specifically to their eyes. Not the hazy sky.

Realize your camera cannot achieve the dynamic range of the human eye. What you see in the scene will be limited on the image by the capacities of the camera. No amount of megapixels or focus points will change that fact.

It would be somewhat difficult to make use of the HDR feature of your camera without risking subject movement between shots. Therefore, you need to make a few decisions and exposing for the sky and not for the subject is generally your worst decision. If you are going to use the sky for your metering, you rather need to make it obvious to the viewer this was a conscious decision on your part and not simply a mistake or a "I didn't know any better" result.

If you want to silhouette your subject, then you meter for the sky. If you want your subject properly exposed, it's probably not going to happen when the subject is placed against such a bright background. It's almost always acceptable to blow out the sky if you properly expose the main subject. But that's a different thread.

Here's how you silhouete; Google

Don't do that if you don't want a silhouette. Use the same principle but meter the subject, and more specifically, meter her face. This is how to use spot metering when you have a very bright background; Google

Next, realize your camera can only work with what you place in front of it (and then not totally if you present the camera with excessive DR).

Placement of your subject can help the sort of shot you had in mind. Though, I think, you might want to study a bit more on good portrait techniques. You have very little highlight on her face which almost invariably means you have too much shadow on the rest of her face.

Had you placed your subject in a slightly different position relative to the light source, you might have come up with a more well exposed image.

Had you moved her to a location under some mixed shade, you might have come up with a more well exposed image.

Had you used a reflector to bounce some light into the shadow areas of her face, you might have come up with a more well exposed image.

Had you used a fill flash unit, you might have ...

There are several ways to make your situation work. Unfortunately, you haven't chosen any of them.

I can't tell you which solution you might have tried since I wasn't there and I wasn't seeing what you expected from your shot. I would, though, hopefully had tried something other than what you shot.

Did you review this shot on your camera after you took the photo? Did you check the histogram? The blown out areas are fairly obvious.

IF you want a brighter background, you must balance that amount of light on the front of the subject (unless your intent is for a silhouette).

There are multiple ways to go about this balancing act. Fill flash would have probably been my first go to had it been impossible to relocate the shot in a different spot or orientation.

A reflector will most often mean another person is on the shoot which makes it less available as an option unless you invest in far more equipment.

Consider one option which is to place the light source behind your subject and using a hand held reflector being held by the subject. Not always an answer but this is an option which can be selectively used when you are limited in resources. Make the reflector appear to be a book or photo or something the model is looking at and use it to bounce light onto her face. The lighting on the subject's face will then be fairly even and well distributed across her face which is a stylistic approach.

So, yes, a reflector (or two) could have been used to bounce some available light onto your subject's face. If you properly expose for the face in this sort of photo, the rest of the subject's body will be sufficiently lit.

If this shot turned out the way you envisioned it, then I'd say you have some work to do in understanding your camera's dynamic range and its metering system.




You ignored my question regarding your camera's histogram.

Do you know how to read the histogram?

Do you know how to adjust your exposure, or the entire shot in some cases, using the data provided by the histogram?



When dealing with scenes where high dynamic range is present - or simply the highlights on your subject's dark hair - you need to use the histogram to ensure you avoid blown out highlights.

How do you feel the shot turned out?
 
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Madhatter2011

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Yes the background was hazy.

I didn't add anything.
I don't know why you would care to look at haze but I know I like it.
I do not know how to read the histogram. I will study on that.
Since you know a great deal show me a picture you have taken with backlight?
 
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Madhatter2011

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I think it's too over exposed.
I like the haze. As far as the shadows are you only speaking of the backlight image or the one with her towards the sun standing?
 

Derrel

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The hazy, diffused background look is sometimes seen in fashion magazines and on web sites...it has often been used to connote summer, or springtime, and light, happy feelings. It's built mostly on overexposure, but also some lens flare, and low contrast caused by the lens flare spilling light into the shadowed regions of an image. Some people just don't "get it", or don't care for that look. Some people even seem to think it's automatically a mistake, or a bad effect of shooting in one way. It's not a silhouette.

As far as warm, evening front lighting or side-lighting...it's a perfectly fine way to shoot photos. Keep at it, but consider that there is direct front lighting, but late afternoon sun can also be used at an angle--to side-light subjects. It's subtly different. You want to always keep in mind the direction of the main source of light.

The direction of light is the thing to learn about, and to study. Fill light can come from sandy beaches, light-colored concrete sidewalks, large building sides, large bodies of water, electronic flash, reflector boards or fabric reflectors, bed sheets, white pizza boxes, old appliance boxes...I have used all of these things.

In the city, light-colored concrete sidewalks can provide a surprisingly powerful source of fill light. Same with light-colored beach sand or light-colored rock formations or even bluffs if they are light-colored sandstone,limestone,etc.

Diffusing the light can be done by overhead panels, shade trees, doorways, archways, awnings, and whatnot.

How to position people, and the camera, in relation to the light, is dealt with in the John Hedgecoe photography books, much more systematically, and with good example and diagrams, more so than in new, web-based articles and blogs. Light falls into predictable patterns all over the world. This time of year in much of the USA, there is very sweet, beautiful light in the late afternoon and early evening times. Get out there and keep shooting in it!

HERE is the site of a now-deceased guy, Monte Zucker, who did a LOT of articles, and seminars, about how to find good light, and how to make it work for photography. This might help you. Monte Zucker
 

soufiej

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Yes the background was hazy.

I didn't add anything.
I don't know why you would care to look at haze but I know I like it.
I do not know how to read the histogram. I will study on that.
Since you know a great deal show me a picture you have taken with backlight?


We all get to like whatever we like. I would say hold onto this shot for six months and then come back to see how you feel.

Have you done any post production editing on either photo?

If the shots are still in your camera's memory, you probably have a histogram you can pull up either directly from the camera or from most photo editing software. Compare the two images and their accompanying histograms.

You second shot is, IMO, much better overall. Colors are much better; much warmer and more natural. Exposure, overall, is good though, of course, "correct exposure" is a personal ideal. Most especially, if you are shooting in Raw capture, you have rather wide variations in the final exposure value for each shot. On my notebook's screen it would appear the most significant issue with exposure in this shot is the loss of detail in the model's hair.

Most editing software could bring these details up slightly. Now you are entering into using the histogram data to "expose to the right"; Google

It is generally best to push the histogram as far to the right and just prior to the point where "clipping" occurs - which falls to the right side of the histogram. In post production work, it is almost always easier to pull details out of the darkest values than it is to retrieve data from blown out highlights. "Clipping" means distortions, just as it does in an amplifier. As with an amplifier, the best way to work around clipping is to turn down the levels.

Your camera probably also has a RGB histogram which takes you further into the analysis of the image data. Since both light and color have a value in any image, understanding how to use both histograms is your most effective way to judge a shot's "correctness". In other words, both light and color play a role in how the viewer perceives your composition. Due to the layout of most digital camera sensors (and the anti-aliasing filters used to compensate for the basic issues of sensors), blowing out one "channel" of color will result in a poor image quality even when highlights are under control. So do your homework and practice using the data your camera provides to assist you in your image making.

I'm working on a Chromebook and, off hand, I don't have easy access to any of my shots. It doesn't really matter, each scene you view will be somewhat unique and will require unique solutions. Each camera is unique and may (very likely will) result in individual exposure values the camera's metering systems deem correct. Each flash is different. The value of light will vary from one photo to the next. Stylistic choices are unique for each photographer.

The last two go to understanding how you personally work, in your mind as you envision a final result, while you are putting together the final result and snapping the shutter release.

You must "see" the final product and adjust your camera accordingly. This is what you are learning to do with your specific camera and with photography in general. Flexibility to the developing situation is one of the prime skills a photographer must acquire. If it becomes difficult or impossible to achieve the image you first thought you would get, you need to develop the ability to see what image you can get.

You can easily find good to excellent examples of backlit photography by using any search engine.

Your camera should have a feature called exposure bracketing; Google

At this point, I would suggest you take advantage of that feature and that you compare the histograms for each shot. Learn how to use the histogram to properly set an exposure value. When you see clipped highlights, it's time to change something.

What editing software are you using?
 

Ashley.elizabeth

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First off. I was going for that hazy back light look. High exposure behind the person. Her hazy. If I wanted her to be bright I would have turned her. How was I suppose to get that effect without turning her? Just a reflector? I didn't want her bright.

What did you do to get that "hazy" background look? I'm a beginner as well, so it's all learning for me so far.
 

sashbar

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Exposure depends on how bright the area is. I shot a set two weeks ago at golden hour on a super, super hazy day, caused from the smoke of multiple huge forest fires in a three-state region. All day long, the exposures outdoors were about two full EV lower than what one would expect. It was like a massive, giant softbox. Visibility was about five miles total, from hilltop peaks located 400 to 500 feet above the valley floor. Late in the afternoon, shooting back-lighted, the exposure was right around ISO 200 at f/3.5 at 1/200 second, and I used flash fill light on backlighted subject at 1/8 power from about 20 feet away with a longer zoom lens. The flash was just a minor part of the exposure...the "correct" exposure was f/3.5 at 1/160 second, but I let the back-lighted side that was being hit by very soft sunlight (diffused by all the smoke and the low sun position) go a bit bright, so the sun acted as a rim light.

You can also shoot subjects directly front-lighted and use flash to add eye-sparkle. This would be about an hour before dark, with the low sun slanting in over your shoulder, and striking the subject at a slight angle to his or her face, which will create some interesting shadows on their face; the sun will NOT be all that bright most likely, and squinting should not be a problem since the sun is striking the subject from an angle, and they are not staring directly into the low sun. The pop-up flash will actually work for this...the majority of the light is from the sun and sky's light...the flash is just for eye-sparkle. Think ISO 200, 1/125 second at f/7.1, flash dialed to -2.0 EV.

A 50mm is pretty good in the f/3.2 to f/5.6 range at closer distances. Start at 7 feet; do not get much closer than 7 feet with a 50mm lens. Keep the white balance a bit warm, like 5660 Kelvin.

I do not think spot metering is the way to go unless you are super-experienced; it can easily lead to wildly inconsistent exposures if conditions are not just so. Matrix metering during golden hour will usually give good results with a modern Nikon d-slr. When using flash, I never use spot metering.

What an excellent advice
 

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