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Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Aravinda  Subasinghe

Shooting Against the Sun

© Aravinda  Subasinghe
Canon EOS Rebel Ti...
I shot this photo against the sun. It was sunset, but as you can see, it didn't work out the way that I wanted too. The details of the ridges and the coastline was just too dark, even though it is fixable on the computer. I want to know how to fix it when I shoot again. I am familiar with my Canon EOS 300v and know the importance of shutter speed and aperture in this situation. Please don't hesitate to criticize my technique and help me out.

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12/22/2004 11:32:20 PM

Kerry L. Walker  
  Sunset at the Beach
Sunset at the Beach
© Kerry L. Walker
Olympus OM-2
OK, I will try to answer your question to where you can get what you want. The problem is that there is just too much difference between the light reflecting off the foreground and the light coming from the sky. You could try using a 2 stop graduated neutral density filter to eliminate some of the light from the sky and meter off the foreground. This would keep the sky from being blown out too much and would make the foreground properly lighted. The question I have is why would you want to do that? You have a very nice picture. You could use a 1 stop or 2 stop graduated ND filter, and meter off the sky, thus maintaining a beautiful silhouette with the sky being a little darker than it is. I would shoot two shots, one with the 1 stop grad. ND and one with the 2 stop filter and see which you like better. Just don't try to fight the light. You will wind up with a muddy picture that isn't as pretty as the one you have here. Silhouettes are great. You just don't want the sky too light. Take a look at the picture I have posted. The foreground is dark in it too but the sky is also darker.

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12/23/2004 9:48:32 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Kerry is correct that strong silhouettes can improve a great sunrise/sunset. If you want to illuminate some of the closer foreground elements, you can meter off the sky and use flash to add extra light to the foreground. Also, take a moment to see what is going on BEHIND you. The setting sun will illuminate everything from that direction.

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12/23/2004 11:22:43 AM

Patricia A. Cale
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/25/2002
  I agree with Kerry and like this photo. With the light difference, you have to make a decision on which part of the scene is the most important, then you can meter for that part of the scene. If you wanted the sky to be prominent, you could have metered off the sky AWAY from the sun to find a middle tone in the sky. With the middle tone metered, the exposure will fall into place and the sky would have more color and the foreground would be silhouetted. If you wanted the foreground to be the subject, you will blow out the sky. I just took a nature photography class with Willard Clay and he said this is a choice you have to make and live with. You may not be able to have everything in the scene exposed the way your eye sees it. One thing about graduated ND filters: be careful where you have the line situated in your scene. If you can't hide the line in your horizon or a line of trees, the line will be noticeable in your sky.

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12/28/2004 6:44:03 AM

Tiffany L. Cochran
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/27/2004
  Also, when using silhouettes, be aware of your composition. Taking the other responses into account, if the silhouettes are the focus of the scene, they may need to dominate more of the image. Be aware of how you feel your eye naturally leads you. The eye is drawn to contrast, so if the sun is the focus, the silhouettes may lead to it or frame the sun. But if the sihouettes are the focus, the sun hidden behind them or peeking through an openingin the silhouette may add dramatic effect. Also, consider adjusting your vantage point ot accomplish this.

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12/28/2004 10:04:32 AM

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