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Friday, July 09, 2010
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Q&A 1: Help Me Understan...
Q&A 1: Bright sunlight...

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Bright Subject vs. Dark Background: Get a Perfect Exposure!
BetterPhoto instructor Doug Steakley shares his thoughts and techniques for metering a scene with a sunlit subject against a shadowed background. Read all about it here...

Featured Gallery
Woody in the Mustard
© - Dianna Murphy

Welcome to the 481st issue of SnapShot!

A sunlit subject against a shadowed background? Now THAT is an exposure challenge. But BP instructor Doug Steakley explains how to successfully meter the scene and get the photo you want. See This Week's Tip below. ... Also in this issue of SnapShot (Featured Blog), instructor Jim Zuckerman shares photos and techniques for photographing oil mixed with water. The results are strong graphic designs of bold colors and interesting shapes, along with a creatively fun experience. ... And if you have a few minutes, don't miss the Team BetterPhoto blog. That's the place where BP team members - including myself! - post thoughts, observations, and even tips! ... That's it for now. Have fun with your photography!    Kerry Drager   Newsletter Editor    Where is Jim Miotke? Follow BetterPhoto's founder and president on Twitter - BetterPhotoJim - and in his blog:

Jim Miotke
Where Is Jim?

Updates From BetterPhoto

We are very proud of our virtual classroom, which is very interactive and very convenient. Take a quick tour... See Jim Zuckerman's eye-popping photos in his BetterPhoto Instructor Insights blog, and read his technique for photographing oil and water mixed together. If you've been hitting a wall lately, then we have some great ways to get inspired! For example, for BetterPhoto's daily dose of visual inspiration, check out our free Photo of the Day newsletter at the subscription page. ... In addition, view the past contest winners of our monthly contest.

Photo Q&A

1: Help Me Understand: Flash in Theater
Tonight I was taking some test shots in a rather dark theater with my speedlight on camera. I wanted all in focus, so I chose f11 on aperture priority. The camera selected 1/60 shutter and the photo was quite underexposed. So, I switched to "P" mode and the camera chose 1/60 shutter and 5.6 aperture and the photo turned out pretty good. So, why didn't the camera choose a slower shutter speed when I set the aperture at f11 to get the correct exposure?
- Tara R. Swartzendruber
Assuming that the flash is dedicated to whatever type of camera you had, since you were on aperture priority, the camera read you had the flash on and selected its default sync speed. However, using f/11, the flash probably isn't strong enough to properly light something that's at a typical distance of a theater stage with that small of an aperture.
Also, when you use auto exposure with flashes (whether the camera is on auto or the flash is on auto), the sensors that read the scene can't know what it is that you want to light. So the stage in the distance may have been severely underlit, but perhaps the area directly in front of you was properly lit. Your flash may even have an infrared sensor that factors in object distance, and makes its calculations and then assumes that since you chose f/11, based on the brightness readings from the scene that you're trying to light just what's within 8ft in front of you.
On p mode, the camera chose a better combination of aperture/flash power. Really, just any big area or anything that's at a distance that's in a very dark place, f/11 isn't going to be good with just a hotshoe flash. If there's a distance scale on the back of your flash, you'll probably see that it indicates that if the aperture is f/11, then the distance that the stage was, is beyond the range of what the flash can do at that aperture.
Also note that on p mode, it's going to be set up to not go below a certain setting, like the sync speed of 1/60. It's like the microwave settings for people who really don't know how to cook. You have some meat but you have no idea how long to cook it, so you hope there's a "meat" button. Beginners usually aren't adept yet at holding a camera steady, so P mode will never go below 1/60 but will change the ISO up if needed.
- Gregory La Grange
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1: Bright sunlight shots

What is the best setting for taking sunlight shots? Last week, I took some shots in bright sunlight, and the faces of the subjects were so dark. I used a white balance setting for daylight and also tried auto but both settings did not help. Please help
- Charles K. Tufuor

It is best to avoid the situation all together (ie: find a shady spot). It's not a white balance issue, but an exposure issue. If you included a lot of bright background, the metering system in your camera tries to compensate for that.
You could look into using AE lock feature on your camera, or try not including the bright areas in your photo when taking it (get closer or zoom in), or you can even use your flash if you are close enough to the faces.
If you're looking to fix what you have already taken, try adding fill light in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) in either Photoshop Elements or Photoshop.
Pam :)

- Pamela R. Frost

Set your ISO low and select spot metering. Spot meter on the face. If necessary, zoom in on the face, or get closer so the spot meter only covers a portion of the face, Look at your readings, go to manual exposure and set for the readings you just acquired.

- Lynn R. Powers

Sounds like you're having problems with the typical midday high-contrast problems.

- Gregory La Grange

You can use your flash... it will reduce the midday contrast.

- Ken Smith
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