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Photography Question 
Michelle E. Martin


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Canon EOS Digital ...

I am trying to get a silhoutte of my son at the beach. This was my first attempt. I had a hard time focusing my camera while shooting towards the sun. I am also not sure what aperture I should use. On this one I used 2.8. And I focused on my son. If I try to focus on the sky my camera will not focus! Any advice will be appreciated.


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7/11/2009 3:44:39 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  Why not manual focus?

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7/11/2009 9:49:55 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  You'd actually get better results with a smaller aperture than f-2.8 since more of the scene would be in apparent focus.

Once your aperture is set, select a shutter speed to expose that bright sky in the background normally and your subject will silhouette.

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7/11/2009 4:05:18 PM

Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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f/4.5, 1/800s, iso200, 75mm
© Carlton Ward
Canon EOS 40D Digi...
Yep, what Bob said :)

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7/11/2009 5:30:30 PM

Edwin Johnson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/5/2009
  I don't think it turned out too bad for a first attempt. Bob's advice will get you the results you are looking for.

Manual focus is better for this type of shot since the sky will be in focus and the main object doesn't have much light reflecting back to the camera. Keep in mind that photography is the art and ability to capture light.

Modern camera autofocus systems are pretty sophisticated. They can tell how far away different objects are and select the closest objects to focus on. Some have various setting for how they read the light reflected off of the items in front of them to help them determine how and what to focus on. The sky gets tricky for autofocus because aren't always contrasting colors or objects with contrasting edges in the sky. While the lens has the ability to bring the sky into focus, the camera's brain can't always compute how far away the sky is so it won't always autofocus on the sky. Its easier to use manual focus, which uses the human eye and brain (which is far more complex than a camera) to tell when the lens has focused on the sky.

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7/11/2009 9:22:25 PM

Michelle E. Martin   Thanks so much for all of the help. I am going to try it again as soon as the weather permits!

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7/12/2009 8:49:46 AM

Jerry Deutsch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/25/2009
  I would like your opinions about silhouttes. I have often taken them with the silhoutte blacked out with no detail. Especially when using something to frame the photo like a tree trunk and overhanging branches. A judge at our photo club however, usually want to see some detail in the sillhoutte.

What do you think?

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7/17/2009 5:22:46 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  You can light up the foreground with a strobe if it's close enough.

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7/17/2009 5:25:17 AM

Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  Jerry, I think it all comes down to what you are shooting whether or not you want detail. I find it distracting when I see a sunset with foreground objects like trees too dark. On the other hand, if you are shooting a persons silhouette, I think any detail would come off looking like you accidently underexposed the person and would be a distraction.

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7/17/2009 9:30:57 AM

Gretchen J. Gilkey
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/19/2006
  Hey Michelle!! I just got back from the beach and attempted to shoot a few sillhouttes myself. I actually like the way you have your son in focus and the background in blurry. I think you have done a great job!

gretchen :o)

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7/19/2009 8:01:01 PM

Michelle E. Martin   Thanks Gretchen,
I haven't made it back to the beach for another try yet. The weather has been very rainy in Mass. this summer. Thanks for the compliment. Michelle

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7/28/2009 9:37:31 AM

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