Trouble exposing Dark images against a lighter background.......... HELP !!

BigBazza

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Hi ......
Am having getting detail into my subject when I have a bright background .......... have sort of semi conquered the opposite and get some fair results of my sons cricket team against dark backgrounds but dont seem to get the same results be reversing the scenario...... I mainly hand hold or a monopod for the cricket shots at 1000/1 sec TV and have some nice results but am worried as I went on safari last year and got some completely blown shots and dont want to suffer the same fate again!!
If anyone has a good starting point for which I might try and then tweak ??...... as I am going again in October and I dont want to miss the shot of a lifetime by playing with the settings.... Id rather have something I can start with and then adjust as I go ........ its just that I am getting myself a bit more than confused.."A little knowledge etc etc"
Many Thanks
I have a 7D & 70 x 200 2.8
 

runnah

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Try using the spot meter function on your camera. This will allow your to meter a specific area of what you are trying to take a photo of i.e. a face in front of a window.
 

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You have a few options.

Suppose you're taking a photo of a person standing in a shady area -- or perhaps even indoors. Behind them is a bright sunlit area (or window with a vewi to a bright area).

The camera has a limited "dynamic" range. So the difference between the darkest areas and lightest areas in the image aren't able to be as different as the human eye can handle. If the amount of light is too different, the forground subject is nicely lit, but the background is blown out and white.... or the background is nicely exposed but the forground subject is dark and lacks any detail.

To fix this, you need to accept that you probably cannot do anything about the background exposure. The amount of sunlight is whatever it is and you can't change that.

But you probably can do something about the forground subject exposure by using your flash. The flash doesn't need to "match" the background exposure, but it'd be nice if it was, say, about 2/3rds of a stop difference (a full stop is "half" or "double" the light). You can use flash, or reflectors. You can wait for clouds (if it's cloudy)... or you can move your subject to a different location where the difference isn't so great.

My camera doesn't have a built-in flash like your 7D, but I always carry my external flash with me when I'm shooting outside because you get a much better look if you can reduce the harsh contrast between the parts of the image in full sun and the parts of the image in shade -- especially deep shade.
 
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BigBazza

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You have a few options.

Suppose you're taking a photo of a person standing in a shady area -- or perhaps even indoors. Behind them is a bright sunlit area (or window with a vewi to a bright area).

The camera has a limited "dynamic" range. So the difference between the darkest areas and lightest areas in the image aren't able to be as different as the human eye can handle. If the amount of light is too different, the forground subject is nicely lit, but the background is blown out and white.... or the background is nicely exposed but the forground subject is dark and lacks any detail.

To fix this, you need to accept that you probably cannot do anything about the background exposure. The amount of sunlight is whatever it is and you can't change that.

But you probably can do something about the forground subject exposure by using your flash. The flash doesn't need to "match" the background exposure, but it'd be nice if it was, say, about 2/3rds of a stop difference (a full stop is "half" or "double" the light). You can use flash, or reflectors. You can wait for clouds (if it's cloudy)... or you can move your subject to a different location where the difference isn't so great.

My camera doesn't have a built-in flash like your 7D, but I always carry my external flash with me when I'm shooting outside because you get a much better look if you can reduce the harsh contrast between the parts of the image in full sun and the parts of the image in shade -- especially deep shade.


Thanks for that, but my specific problem, is "Wildlife" and on safari so I guess using a flash would not be cricket so to speak :):). I was referring specifically to the problem of photographing wildlife and in a safari situation, but I know the principle is that I have to just blow the background to gain correctly exposed backlit subjects.. Thanks again...... I spose I was asking if anyone had any experience and found a decent compromise for which I could start on/with
 

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In a situation where you are going to take a photo of a high dynamic range scene, you either need to lower the dynamic range (i.e. additional light sources) or bracket the shots (except in a fast moving environment or capturing a fast moving subject) and then combine them in post production.

As for the flash, this may help in some situations. --> Better Beamer
 

gsgary

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Ysarex

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Hi ......
Am having getting detail into my subject when I have a bright background .......... have sort of semi conquered the opposite and get some fair results of my sons cricket team against dark backgrounds but dont seem to get the same results be reversing the scenario...... I mainly hand hold or a monopod for the cricket shots at 1000/1 sec TV and have some nice results but am worried as I went on safari last year and got some completely blown shots and dont want to suffer the same fate again!!
If anyone has a good starting point for which I might try and then tweak ??...... as I am going again in October and I dont want to miss the shot of a lifetime by playing with the settings.... Id rather have something I can start with and then adjust as I go ........ its just that I am getting myself a bit more than confused.."A little knowledge etc etc"
Many Thanks
I have a 7D & 70 x 200 2.8

The simple answer is no. To give you an analogy with more emphasis; find a really solid brick wall and start to work on it with your forehead. Let us know when you've made some progress.

I tell my students that the first really valuable lesson they have to learn is to recognize what isn't going to work so they won't waste valuable time. The top of that list is a backlit subject where you need full detail and proper exposure for the subject, no blown highlights and you can't use flash.

Tim identified the workable option: flash. Remove that option and you're back in front of the brick wall.

The software in your camera really isn't engineered to deal with this scenario. In recent years the camera engineers have come up with some lame attempts. Your camera includes one of those and Canon calls it HTTP. Find it in your instruction manual and run some tests ahead of time. It's the best option your camera software offers. HTTP combined with some post processing might allow you to put some chinks in the wall.

What makes this problem especially frustrating today is that although your camera can't do it, your camera's sensor can. In other words there's really no automated software solution beyond lame but the hardware in your camera can record what you're after. You need to expose the sensor fully just to the edge of clipping the highlights and then you can hand process the raw file to pull up the shadow detail. You need the right software and the skill to use it. Here's an example:

$gyro.jpg

On top the camera JPEG illustrates the problem you've identified. The cyclists are the subject. They're in shadow with a bright sunlit background. The exposure is maxed out for the sunlit background and any additional exposure blows the highlights, but the cyclists are way too dark. There's no camera setting solution that will solve this lighting problem. The answer is flash. In my case flash use during this race was prohibited. The camera can't otherwise deal with this so walk away, or learn to manipulate the raw file as a next best alternative.

Joe
 

shaylou

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Try using the spot meter function on your camera. This will allow your to meter a specific area of what you are trying to take a photo of i.e. a face in front of a window.

The first answer is the best imo. Spot metering will allow you to expose for the subject no matter what the surrounding area is doing. Yes you will blow the highlights but hopefully you can manage that in post. I use this all of the time and it works in this situation well.
 

Ysarex

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Try using the spot meter function on your camera. This will allow your to meter a specific area of what you are trying to take a photo of i.e. a face in front of a window.

The first answer is the best imo. Spot metering will allow you to expose for the subject no matter what the surrounding area is doing. Yes you will blow the highlights but hopefully you can manage that in post. I use this all of the time and it works in this situation well.

How do you manage blown highlights in post?

Joe
 

table1349

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Try using the spot meter function on your camera. This will allow your to meter a specific area of what you are trying to take a photo of i.e. a face in front of a window.

The first answer is the best imo. Spot metering will allow you to expose for the subject no matter what the surrounding area is doing. Yes you will blow the highlights but hopefully you can manage that in post. I use this all of the time and it works in this situation well.

How do you manage blown highlights in post?

Joe
Well Generally you manage to make the blown highlights look worse, but you like it anyway because it is easier then learning and practicing good photographic skills and technique.
 

cgipson1

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Try using the spot meter function on your camera. This will allow your to meter a specific area of what you are trying to take a photo of i.e. a face in front of a window.

The first answer is the best imo. Spot metering will allow you to expose for the subject no matter what the surrounding area is doing. Yes you will blow the highlights but hopefully you can manage that in post. I use this all of the time and it works in this situation well.

How do you manage blown highlights in post?

Joe

I am wondering that too! No information (image data) is no information! Unless you add Fake information.. there is nothing there to work with.....
 

The_Traveler

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I don't know about the 7D's dynamic range but I often shoot pictures in harsh unforgiving light and I expose to the right as much as possible without blowing highlights.
There are two possible results, one: neither the background nor the foreground are optimally exposed but both do have enough detail for me to recover them, usually separately or two: either the background or the subject are too far from optimal to look good.

Part of shooting in these situations is getting in the position where the background is as dark as possible, thus I try hard never to include the sky. If you are on a photo safari, the guides should know all the tricks and take you out early and late and put you where the sky won't be in the field if possible. That's what you pay them for.
 

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