advise for shooting outside in sunny conditions

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by john_valjean, Apr 25, 2008.

  1. Experts, I am seeking some advise. equipment used: xti, 580EX, EFS 18-55 and
    50mm 1.8. Weather conditions: 1PM, sunny with no clouds, temp 65F, light wind.
    task: portrait photograpy in a open field (no trees, green grass, open area)
    positioning: one shoot facing the sun and one shoot at 90 degrees to the sun.

    so I started with ISO200, Tv mode at 1/80 with my EFS first, no flash, the set I
    took turned out to be full shadows on half of the face of the subject. with
    Flash, the pictures turned out to be too "white" not just bright. So is my
    setting wrong, do I need to bump my shutter speed, do I need to shoot in Av
    instead. I do not like to use the flash to fill in, I like to get the photo from
    natural light. Please help, thanks.
     
  2. I'd try: 50/1.8, Av, f/2.8, 580EX pointing upwards, build-in white card up, FEC -0.5.

    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  3. At ISO 200 with 1/80 the pictures are not only prone to camera shake (a little, at least), the aperture is going to be very small (huge depth-of-field) in sunlight. So I recommend using Av with ISO 100 and the flash set to high-speed sync. Portraits a large aperture is prefered (less than f/2.8 with the 50mm).
    Shooting in bright sunlight is also very demanding, as the dynamic range would be huge (as you noticed). So you will need flash light to brighten the shadows. Balancing flash and ambient light is no easy task with Canon's system, but with experience you can make it work. A lot depends on your actual setting, subject distance etc., so giving you exact technical settings is pointless. You definitively need to play around with exposure compensation and flash exposure compensation. Check your display and eventually you will make it work.
    By the way, if handled correctly, flash light can look pretty natural and make a better image than bright sunlight. Position your subject in backlight (shooting against the sun) and use flash as your main light. Works best when not done at noon. Click examples for details.
    [​IMG]
    Flash as main light (sunny afternoon)
    [​IMG]
    Flash as fill flash (evening sun)
     
  4. zml

    zml

    Unless you are going for the "look ma, the shaded half of the face is pitch black" effect, get some reflectors (gold, silver... your aesthetic call) and a shoot-through (translucent) panel to soften the sunlight. This way you'll be not only able to eaualize the light (reflectors...) but also soften the sunlight considerably. Yeah, I know it goes beynod "photography 101" but still, what choice do you have..?
     
  5. John;

    The problem is "natural light" is terrible and unflattering at that time of day. It's my experience that most people who say " I prefer natural light" don't know how to use flash.

    Sure natural light is more flattering when it's diffused, or at sunrise/sunset. But natural noon harsh overhead light is dreadful for portraits. Why would you want to do this anyway?

    Also your shooting strategy makes a bad situation even worse. You are starting out with terrible hard light and positioning your subject with 90 degree lighting. And you won't use flash. What did you expect.

    Ok enough bashing ;-) now for some ideas on how to make it work. If it's not possible to position them in shade, shoot with the subjects back to the sun. At least you can control the lighting on the subject that way.

    Av or Tv mode makes no difference here. Your meter is going to be fooled either way. It is looking at a sceen with too much contrast. It tried to compensate for so much bright background thus making the subject underexposed. You could try your exposure compensation setting + 1.5 or 2 stops. Or even better, learn to use your spot or partial meter. This might require getting in very close just for the meter reading off your subjects face or a grey card.

    Peferably, start learning to shoot in M mode. Once you understand the basics, you'll use M mode almost exclusively as it offers you the most control. No one can tell you exactly what the right ISO, shutter and aperture are because we aren't there taking the meter readings. But if you experiment a bit you'll figure them out.

    If you do find yourself with harsh front, side or above sun light you can also use reflectors to through some fill light back into the harsh shadows. A sandy beach, or white sidewalk make a natural reflector bouncing light back up into the face. Alternately you can bring a white sheet and position it at thier feet on the ground. Or havce an assistant hold up a refector just outside the frame.

    But really you should learn to use flash. And learn about exposure in general. There are ton's of good books on both subjects. Just do a search here.

    I use flash a lot. And very few non-photographers can tell when I've used it. In this case it seems you simply over exposed with flash. Check that you were using ETTL mode and not manual mode. In case that sounds contradictory, use manual setting on the camera and ETTL auto mode on the flash. ETTL works great if you do it right.

    You should pick up an inexpensive dedicated ETTL 2' off camera cord for more flattering directlional flash lighting.

    Also don't shoot full open aperture, espeically with your 50mm 1.8 when you are very close to the subject. Sometimes the minimum flash output is still too much up close and at wide aperture. So you have to lower ISO to 100 and close down aperture.

    Lastly, if the pics looked too "White" perhaps you had the wrong white balance set. Check that you set it to daylight or flash (wich are very similar in color).

    To sum it up there are really only two points. 1) you were shooting in about the worst possible conditions with the worst posing for that setting. So look to shoot at a better time of day or in a better place. 2) just read more and learn about the camera settings, exposure and lighting. This is really the fun part anyway.

    Good luck.
     
  6. >> Peferably, start learning to shoot in M mode. Once you understand the basics, you'll use M mode almost exclusively as it offers you the most control.

    I understand the basics but rarely use M mode. I almost exclusively use Av and apply EC if needed.

    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  7. Yakim:

    Different strokes I guess. I do a lot of shooting in difficult lighting like John was talking about (events) and theatre lighting which is kind of the oposite problem. Sometimes the effective range of EC is not enough to get what I want. Or the effect of zooming changing the amount of black/white in the background fooling the meter. M mode is the most "stable" for lack of a better word in tricky lighting, based on my experience.

    While I appreciate the convenience of Av, Tv exct, I think all new shooters should understand exposure and be proficient in manaual mode. Then they can use the others as they see fit.

    Just my opinion.
     
  8. >> Sometimes the effective range of EC is not enough to get what I want.

    Different strokes indeed. +/- 1 is all that I need.

    Happy shooting,
    Yakim.
     
  9. I agree with Yakim. "M" is pretty pointless and inconvenient when you can use exposure compensation. I would not recommend it to a beginner. There are only very few situations where Av + EC/FEC is not sufficient or prefered.
     
  10. You guys never shot in theatre then. Anything but M creates absolute havoc on experosure variation when zooming and thus changing the amount of black/white in the background. Other venues where M really makes the most sense are hockey rinks, due to the white ice bacground and the beach due to the sand.

    Y'all do realize that matrix metering also takes some time to calcualte each shot right? I take a few shot's to meter the overall light. Select the correct settiings in M and just fire away not worrying about background changes by zoom, or the additional shutter delay due to the meter doing it's thing.

    Call me old school but M is just faster and more stable for some situations. But then again I started with manaual film camera's circa 1970s.
     
  11. YOU ARE SO ELITE, BOB!
     
  12. Elite, I don't know about that. Give this thread some time. I think there are just as many of us prefering M as there are of you pefering Auto modes.

    BTW, I also think I get better gas milage and performance handling with a 4 speed stick vs auto transmission. Yikes!
     
  13. ""M" is pretty pointless and inconvenient when you can use exposure compensation."

    All modes have their "place & time"

    Examples:

    Manual mode: Great for shooting a series of shots under the same conditions (mandatory for stitched panoramas) - you get even exposures. Nicer if used in conjunction with an incident light meter. In these situations AV/TV is likely to give you a range of results (because different scenes get metered differently) - and no EC required. Take a typical wedding - white brides dress comes out white - black groom's suit comes out black (unless you want to keep tweaking EC). With AV/TV modes they both come out grey. Probably not a good mode for beginners.

    eg http://www.photo.net/photo/7194094

    AV Mode: Great where DOF is an issue. Case in point - was up at 5:30am shooting a sunrise scene - camera set to AV mode (Evaluative metering) on tripod with TC80-N3 timer taking a shot every 15 seconds as I "busied" myself monitoring the changing light conditions - manual & TV mode would have produced hopeless results.

    eg http://www.photo.net/photo/7202046

    TV Mode: Great for situations where DOF isn't so much of an issue, but motion is. Last weekend I had the camera set to do a 5 stop bracket set to TV mode (30 second exposure) - worked perfectly.

    eg http://www.photo.net/photo/7193802

    No modes are right or wrong - just different tools for us to work with depending on the job at hand.

    Cheers,

    Colin
     
  14. Bob is right, if you are outside and get a full body shot with alot of background in the picture and then you zoom in and fill the frame with the person, your exposure changes dramatically. Your probably better off exposing for the background and using fill flash.
     
  15. Bob is right, if you are outside and get a full body shot with alot of background in the picture and then you zoom in and fill the frame with the person, your exposure changes dramatically. Your probably better off exposing for the background and using fill flash. I always shot in AV mode but once you learn to use Manual it makes things alot easier.
     
  16. whoops. double post. sorry.
     
  17. Andrew/Colin:

    Thanks for chiming in. See Bueh, now it's tied.

    I hope all the varied opinions have helped the OP John with his questions.
     
  18. I am no expert by any stretch of the imagination but I see two learning opportunities here.
    1. Exposure - get Bryan Peterson's book Understanding Exposure
    2. Using flash - read Strobist.com daily
     
  19. "Thanks for chiming in. See Bueh, now it's tied."

    You're welcome Bob!

    "You guys never shot in theatre then. Anything but M creates absolute havoc on experosure variation when zooming and thus changing the amount of black/white in the background. Other venues where M really makes the most sense are hockey rinks, due to the white ice bacground and the beach due to the sand."

    Without discounting other modes for other situations, I would even go so far as to say that - under the types of circumstances you mention - many could improve the consistancy of their work considerably by following that advice.
     
  20. learn to shoot manual, it is easy
     
  21. Have an assistant or friend hold a reflector (I like white but some like to use a gold or
    silver) to bounce light on the "shady" side of your subject. Sometimes this can let you do
    away with the flash.

    BTW, almost any shady spot will work better than bright, contrasty sun. Maybe you're in a
    location where that's not possible, but you can also watch out for cloudy days on which to
    shoot. You'll get much better results. I like shooting outdoors when there are evenly thin,
    "wispy" clouds which makes the sky act like a giant softbox.

    I can shoot in manual just fine, but like Yakim, when I'm outside using fill-flash, I use Av
    mode.
     
  22. Easy way, but not 100% successful every time. ISO 100, shutter priority 1/250. For contrasty light, dial down AMBIENT compensation -1.5 to 2 stops (adjust as you go), while compensating evaluative flash metering however it need to be for correct fill of shadows. If you test and see the shadows are too bright, dial down the flash comp.

    Hard way but giving total control. ISO 100, f5.6-f11 (depends), 1/250th. Evaluative flash metering, comp as needed.

    Reflectors are nice but they make people squint. And they almost always require someone else to hold it unless you use a stand and clamp (meaning no candid photos). Then they blow away in the wind. Might look at the TriGrip reflectors by Lastolite.
     
  23. >> +/- 1 is all that I need.

    Oooops. Yesterday I shot a show (I shot one about twice a month). -1 on the stage, -2 on the audience. Pictures were exposed fine despite using Av........ :)

    Happy shooting, Yakim.
     
  24. All our stage work, weddings and restaurant biz pix are in `M` only use Av when lazy, been doin that since my spotmatic came off my motorcycle early 70`s and meter stuffed up, Noon sun no flash = deep dark eye sockets and needs balanced fill flash to look good, also few cameras handle so much DR, I have shot Raw in bad light like this and used PS to fix, convert 3 diferrent exposures and blend, just another workaround :)
     
  25. My part of the world is almost always VERY sunny, so I find that a reflector serves me very well. I will occasionally also use a bit of fill. I shoot Manual and check my histogram to ensure I get what I want...
     

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