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Photography Question 
Leslie L. Ly
 

Bridal Gowns on Sunny Days


I recently used my Canon Digital EOS Rebel to shoot pictures at an outdoor wedding on a very sunny day. I had difficulty finding the right exposure when photographing the bride - her gown was always too bright. Please give me advice on how to find the correct exposure when photographing brides on very sunny days.


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1/8/2005 9:31:39 PM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  A white dress exposed to a bright sun is typically 2 stops more reflective than neutral gray.
Digital cameras have exposure latitudes that are similar to slide film (or so I've read), so it would be difficult in bright sunlight to get skin tones right, along with a properly exposed white dress.
If possible, find an area in the shade and shoot your formal pictures there. If no shade is available, try to position the subjects with the sun high, but behind them. This would place the front of the bride's dress (facing you) in shadow, and bring the exposure extremes to a more tolerable level. In this scenario, you should meter off the bride's face.
(Note: Try not to include any of the distant sky in the frame, as it will likely be over-exposed.)


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1/9/2005 4:50:07 AM

 
Robert N. Valine
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/3/2003
  Leslie,Don't feel bad about this subject.A lot of professional photographers who made the jump to digital are having the very same problem.Some of them went back to film for the extra latitude of exposure.I know wedding professionals in the business 30 years who are having this problem.Bob is right.Digital has a narrow latitude of exposure and he is also right about looking for some shade.There are some other things you might also try.Bracketing your exposures would be my first suggestion.If you're not sure Bracket,Bracket,Bracket.It's digital so it won't cost anything to do this.Your best bet is to find shade and use fill flash.If you must shoot in the sun,I would suggest fill flash or like Bob said Spot meter off their faces.Try both and see what works best for you.
Good Luck.


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1/10/2005 2:20:28 PM

 
David Robinson   I hope my last answer didn't have too many typos in it as it disappeared off my screen of its own accord.


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1/10/2005 3:44:13 PM

 
Leslie L. Ly   David, I don't see your response - could you post it again?

Thank you Bob and Rob for your responses. In order to use fill flash in the sun, would I a)have to be up close and b)underexpose slightly?

Thank you all,
Leslie


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1/10/2005 8:00:41 PM

 
Robert N. Valine
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/3/2003
  Yes Leslie,You want to make sure that if you shoot the wedding party with their backs to the sun that you don't get a silhouette.Fill flash can solve this or meteing with a spot meter off of their faces.


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1/10/2005 8:10:57 PM

 
Robert N. Valine
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/3/2003
  One other thing that might help in a high contrast scene is a contrast filter.I've used these where nothing else will work.Example:I shot a wedding ceremony in a wooded area with mixed lighting.Bright sun and dark shaded areas.I had no choice about where I could shoot.contrast filters can help with brightly lit High contrast situations.Again experiment and see what works for you.


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1/10/2005 8:29:20 PM

 
David Robinson   Here goes for a second attempt. One must bear in mind that digital devices and film do not work in the same way when faced with scenes of great contrast. Adding a quarter or half a stop squirt of fill-in flash to a film will have a negligible effect on the highlights in the neg because as the neg reaches its greatest density it is reluctant to get any darker.With digital the effect of adding light to the exposure is the same across the board and a quarter stop more light will of course brighten the dark areas but it will also have the same proport-ional effect on the highlights which will tend to burn out.It is essential to keep the highlights in a digital image below the top range of the sensor; because if there are no pixels for you to work on then nothing can bring them back. It is possible to adjust dark areas in a pic by using Photoshop or some other editing package if the pic is somewhat underexposed and lacking in contrast.


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1/11/2005 4:34:42 AM

 
Robert N. Valine
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/3/2003
  David,As photographers it is my belief that we should try to get our exposures properly in the camera and not rely on quick fixes afterwards.Regardless of whether it is digital or film that we are shooting with.What I was talking about is using fill flash with backlighting to prevent a silhouette.I'm not talking about using fill flash in direct sunlight.I'm sorry if I did'nt clarify that in my first posting.Backlighting with fill flash should work fine if done properly.Don't you think it would be better than relying on photoshop to correct it later ? Her best bet is to find shade if she is able to do that.Bright sun is risky with digital no matter how you slice it.


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1/11/2005 8:05:09 AM

 
David Robinson   Rob: I was not suggesting that one should not proceed as you suggest,I was pointing out why using fill flash will aggravate a difficult situation. By all means pose your subjects to allow the camera to do its best, but when one is faced with a situation which falls outside the capabilites of the digital sensor and you have no other alternative; then using Photoshop post exposure will allow you to save the day. It can be considered as another piece of kit in your bag.


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1/12/2005 3:07:33 AM

 
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