Shadow Hell - Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by elizabeth_morrissey, Sep 3, 2008.

  1. Right now I use a canon EOS with a canon 580ex flash and these particular pictures were shot with a Tamron 17-50mm and the shadows are awful. Please help!
  2. /Users/stephen/Desktop/IMG_7872.JPG/Users/stephen/Desktop/IMG_7910.JPG/Users/stephen/Desktop/IMG_7857.JPG
  3. l_e


    I am not sure of what kind of help you are asking for - how to avoid this in the future, or how to fix it in post production?
  4. the shadows look completely normal for that time of day. I would be glad that you had the help of the reflective sand or else the shadows would be much worse. There is no easy correction to this.

    My fix would be in PS. I would warm up the shadows to match skin color and then using curves to match the brightness as close as possible. Lots of masking and lots of work. It wont be perfect either.

    personal note. you shot this really close. I would have grabbed a longer lens and maybe they could have been closer. I find the shadows aren't a big deal as important as the moments they share together.
  5. Elizabeth...

    People use many different methods for fill flash if that's the desired goal your trying to acheive. Some people underexpose the ambient by about -1 stop or so and then use the flash as a main light source. I don't like the looks of that method but to each their own. If i was using fill in your situation, i overexpose the ambient by about 2/3 stop in manual mode. I then put the speedlight in HI SYNC mode just to cover my shutter speed in the event it went over a little. I then - compensate the flash by about -2/3 output. Judging by your distance and knowing your using a wide angle it would appear to be sufficient. Your image would probably look a little overexposed and bright on your LCD display, however, you can lower the exposure in RAW and it would even out. Why do i do this? Because it protects the ambient levels of the enviroment and makes it look natural, while at the same time it fills the subject evenly. Works for me. I'll post an example later when I'm at my office. I do not recommend using fill flash in AV mode due to the partial metering pattern the camera works off of when in this condition :)
  6. I'm looking to avoid this in the future.
    Thanks Josh for your comments-any way to fix this so in the future I won't have so much post production time?
  7. No suggestions for post production from me, sorry. But you should take a walk with your camera and see if you can recreate this effect and see what you can do to fix it. I would try to fill flash at -2/3 stop. I wouldnt overexpose the ambient because once the highlights are blown you cant recover them (from my personal experience). But others do it differently.

    These arent horrible, and your bride and groom may not even notice. Looks to be a casual wedding.
  8. Your flash obviously did not put out enough light to brighten these shadows. You have to use your flash compensation control to increase flash output, and high speed sync would allow you to select a shutter speed that is fast enough not to blow out the sky and background. With a higher flash output, the shadows would still be there, but not as objectionable or contrasty.

    You can also learn to shoot in manual mode, where you have much greater control of settings. I find that whenever I let the camera do my thinking for me by shooting in P or Auto mode, it tends to get things wrong.

    I also use a Hoodman Hoodloupe, which I wear around my neck when shooting. This $80 device lets you really see your LCD up close without bright daylight blowing it out. This way, you can see these issues while shooting and compensate.

    One other tip on correcting these shadows in your existing pics...try ACDSee Pro 2. It is a digital image management software that has some wonderful editing features. It has a Light EQ, which is like a 9 band shadow and highlight adjustment. You can brighten or darken very specific tonal ranges with this tool. With Lightroom or Photoshop, you only have two sliders for shadow/highlights. You can download a free demo for 30 days and try it for yourself. Just google it. It may help these shots.
  9. A certain % of the issue is that the images are underexposed.

    To avoid the issue in the first place try to affect a change in the orientation of the subjects to the bright sun. If that is
    impossible, then learn the concept of light balance using flash ... and the flash doesn't have to be glued to your camera's
    hot shoe either ... TTL extention cords are relatively inexpensive.
  10. Besides learning how to use fill flash and shoot in camera manual mode, figuring your ambient exposure, there are some other, simpler things that will help. First is knowing what you can get a way with using fill flash. You could have suggested positioning for the officiator/couple so that you would not have such awkward shadows on the bride and groom. Fill flash does not eliminate shadows, merely lessens them. For instance, you could have the bride and groom both face the sun or away from the sun, whichever you prefer to deal with, but whatever the case, the light should be even on both faces so you can either shoot for the ambient (sun on face) or shoot to brighten the shadows (sun on the back). Sometimes you can't dictate positioning, but in this case, I can't see how it would have made a difference to the couple.

    Second, know how flash works. Even using enough fill flash, your shot of the guests would not be so good because you were shooting at an angle to the group. Even using fill flash, the nearest people would be lighter but the farther people would still be dark and have harsh shadows. That is the nature of flash (inverse square law). So pick angle where you are making the flash work for you, not against you.

    Third, also realize that ETTL tends to underexpose and that in bright light, your flash, even at full power, isn't going to go far. You have to stay close to your subjects, or you won't get enough flash, even for fill.
  11. If I was close like you were I would listen to Micheal's advice. Over expose the frame and lessen the power of your flash is the best way of getting "natural" looking shots.

    If you were far away I would do the same thing but position a flash on a stand aim it at them close, sync it with pocket wizards and your golden. manual power of course and test it before the ceremony begins.
  12. Ok lets see:

    First of all, are you sure that your fill flash was firing? I can almost read the text on the back of that binder in the third picture. Had you're fill flash fired I would expect to see some form of white hot spot on the reflective plastic on the binder.

    Secondly you have a classic exposure problem going. The camera exposed property for the bright background but left your people in the foreground shadowed. I don't see much help for this with the first shot, you've got to get the bride and the dress properly exposed and everything else can go hang itself. (A white reflector to bounce light into the shadows might have helped though). On the others you might try taking a spot reading off either a gray card on the shadowed faces to get better exposure in the other photos.

    Consider having a film backup camera (preferably medium format) for when you really need a high dynamic range. If the foreground is dark and the background is bright something will have to be sacrificed.

    Oh and in photoshop go to curves, select the line in the middle of the lower 1/2 of the curve and pull it up a tad bit to lighten your shadow details some.
  13. I have heard about bright sun techniques where you deliberately overexpose up to two stops and adjust in post, with the understanding that some highlights are going to blow. I have seen some examples, and while it may work to some extent, ultimately you can't have your cake and eat it too. Especially for weddings where the dress and veil detail may be important to your client, one has to tread carefully re this technique. Otherwise, I've done it in environments where whites (or blonde hair) are not important and it looks great. Now 2/3 stop overexposure I can see--that is managable in post to recover and adjust for. However, the amount of fill flash compensation is going to vary from camera/flash to camera/flash brand and mode. If you are going to experiment with overexposure, don't do it at a wedding until you know exactly what you are going to do and how, in post. This is not a technique that you can apply without full knowledge and past success with follow through.
  14. I can see there are boogers on your sensor, you need to clean it.

    I shoot much of the time on beaches and it is tricky. Here are a few simple things. Use the sun to your advantage.
    Watch where the sun lights up on clothing and faces and if you have the chance position them so there is a 'balance' of
    light and dark. This is difficult to describe but just pay attention to what the sun is doing. Shadows on the ground are a
    great help. I have my flash helping for 50% of the shots (like your first group shot) and the other 50% I dial into manual
    where I have more control. Yes you will 'blow out' some of the whites, some of the time but there is an upside in that you
    gain form better exposure in other areas of the photo. Many think that blown out whites are a bad thing, I don't. There is
    some good technical advice above but I find if you use what you have and keep it simple you can stay way from 'dial
    and button fatigue'.
  15. Your sensor does have some dust specs on it, so you can stamp-tool them in Photoshop to get rid of them. I have a sensor cleaning kit, and clean my sensor before every shoot. It's just so easy for dust specs to get inside our DSLRs.

    Also, the next time you post images here, you need to resize them to 700 pixels wide so they will display on the page instead of as links. The moderators get tired of fussing at folks about this.
  16. The maximum flash sync speed for your camera i beleive is 1/200- or 1/250 of a second. On Picture #3 you used 1/500 at f/11 at iso400. You could have used iso100 and f/11 and adjusted your shutter speed down to 1/250. At 1/500 your flash is inaffective.
  17. Travis

    Somebody correct an old film hand if he's wrong here but hasn't Canon had high speed fill flash for ages? Does anybody know if, when not set to high speed, the 580EX will refuse to fire above the camera's synch speed? In older camera's it would fire and you'd get a line across your film (though with the first gear to have this feature, the Elan II and I think it was the 380EX, high speed synch was set via CF's in the camera, rear curtain synch, default to high speed if over synch speed ftw). I think we may just identified why the fill flash wasn't firing (I'm guessing there was a fresh set of batteries loaded before the shoot).
  18. Your Rebel XTi also has some proprietary Canon software called DPP, which has a provision for manually or automatically eliminating dust from your images. You should look into giving that a try.

    If you're going to continue to shoot professionally, you may want to consider stepping up to a Canon model that has high speed shutter, so your flash can sync at higher shutter speeds for bright outdoor shooting.
  19. On modern Canon DSLRs, you can set high speed sync and leave it there, since, if the shutter speed is above the sync limit, it will use high speed sync, and if it isn't, it will fire 'normally'. If you don't have high speed sync set, the camera will prevent you from making the mistake of shooting beyond the sync limit by locking that limit in. Note--high speed sync doesn't reach very far and is not very useful for photos where you need to be at a distance (beyond about 5-6 feet, and even less) from your subject, particularly in bright sun conditions. Check the guide number decrease with high speed sync.
  20. Elizabeth

    Note from moderator......

    Please upload images as one file in future and the image or file needs to be 700 pixels in width or less.
    You might not have seen that in the instructions when you uploaded this thread?

    Also a caption needs to be put in the caption box.

    We don't want images as links because you then have to open another window and go back and forth.
    Images must show up in the forum thread. In the case of multiple images -- another way is to upload the images to your portfolio in a folder and provide a link.

  21. Nadine

    I wouldn't say 5-6 feet under all situations but I'll give you fighting the sun, the sun is going to win. White card reflector to fill in the shadow detail would probably be best but hard to do for a one man band. On the other hand the shots in question aren't exactly from 20 yards away. I still don't see a hot spot on that binder from a flash fire. I just find it hard to believe that a reflective white surface in shadow near center didn't pick up a hot spot with a direct non diffused flash pop within 10 feet. I still am not seeing evidence of the flash firing!
  22. If you have any assistance at all, a reflector would really help here. But you do need someone to hold it unless
    you're really acrobatic. You could also use a fill flash off the camera (with the TTL cord), on your right side,
    on the man (your first shot). I like the reflector instead because it's natural light, but that's just a
    personal preference. People don't think of the reflector cards outside the studio, but when the sun is this
    bright, you can really harness it.
    Something like this, maybe:
    (Not to advertise for B&H, but they at least show a picture of the thing.)
  23. Sorry, but I really can't imagine any wedding shooter with a large white reflector during a beach ceremony, assistant or no. Not only does the wind play havoc with large flat objects, but it would be too obtrusive and block the ceremony / annoy the guests.
  24. Okay, I'm not a wedding photographer, but I think you can simplify the corrections-in-the-future some. You need to
    study and rehearse this. Except for like maybe, after ceremony shots or something, your subjects are going to go where
    they want to go and do what they want to do, so you have to be responsive.

    1. Look at the tech data on the synch and the flash. One of the posters above advised you were shooting faster than
    the flash; that's a warning sign that your solutions for part of the problem are outperforming your equipment. Get a handle, in advance, of
    what your tools are going to do so that you develop balanced solutions in the field. You can do it. I know you can.

    2. Understand enough of the flash data to figure out how much it contributes to the shot at this distance, period. Then
    do the math for contributing to similar ambient light.

    3. Write down your facts in a pocket notebook or some kind of quick card chart to help guide you through teaching
    yourself and checking yourself in a rehearsal.

    4. Rehearse a similar targeting against some common white and black cloths at the common distances. Did the
    exposures work out about as well as your theoretical models? They probably won't be spot-on, but they should be close.

    References: , and the book, Light: Science and Magic by Fil Hunter and Paul Fuqua.

    5. Use the rehearsals to get your technique down. On one hand, you've got the same lighting problems as everyone
    else. What's adding to the pressure you're feeling is that this is wedding photography; it's a one-time event.

    In jobs where people have to move fast along a precise path to perform specific functions, it pays to rehearse, rehearse,
    rehearse beforehand.

    By the way, I thought the first photo looked great. Some of those shadows help to show time of day, the beautiful
    weather conditions and the contours of people's shapes. If it weren't for the shadows, it would have been hard to illustrate the sand. I
    think some shadows help. You just need to get a little bit better control of the shadow details, and stop blowing out those highlights, is all.
    You can do it. I have faith in you. Proceed with confidence! Good luck, J.
  25. Where are you guys getting this Exif info from?

    If the flash is not set to HSS and the TTL connections are working, then the camera wont allow you to shoot over
    your max x-sync speed.

    ISO 400 is overkill, 100 would have been better. These pics dont look underexposed to me. The camera just metered
    for the bright areas and they are just fine from what I can see. If your talking about the noise, the XTi starts seeing
    noise at ISO 400, and noise in the shadows is expected. Another reason to use ISO 100 when you have enough
    light. But this is pixel peeping.

    Max x-sync on your XTi is 1/200th. Upgrading to a 40D or 50D would give you 1/250th. Thats not such a huge
    difference, a third of a stop. The 40D outperforms in the noise department and has spot metering, which may have
    helped in this situation but to say that you need to get better gear for the x-sync is a bit off (no offense). Anyways,
    you have the sunny 16 rule. On a bright sunny situation (which this would be a stop under) at f/16, a "proper
    exposure" would take the shutter speed of 1/ISO, i.e. @ISO 100 f/16 shutter speed would be 1/100, ISO 200 =
    1/200, etc. (or close to it). So for killing sunlight and being able to use your flash at your max x-sync ISO 100 would
    have been better. You would have saved your batteries too as the HSS draws more power. So if Travis is correct (and
    I have no reason to believe that he's not) about #3 being 1/500 f/11 ISO 400, knocking it down to ISO 200 would let
    you shoot at 1/250th (halve or double your ISO and you move one full stop). Knocking it down to ISO 100 would have
    let you shoot at 1/125th, or 1/200th f/9 ISO 100 using your flash to fill and it wouldnt have to HSS. A full pop is a full
    pop. There is a point of diminishing returns. Although if your going to want to go HSS, the 580EX is the flash to do it
    with. I wish I had one.

    To the people that say overexpose, I dont get it. Lets just analyze this for a second (and feel free to let me know if I
    have something backwards here). How much money does a bride typically spend on their white dress? How much
    time do they agonize over the decision of which dress to buy? How much time do they spend picking out bridesmaid
    dresses that match? How much time do they take getting it altered and re-altered? How much time do they wait if
    the dress has to be shipped, wondering if they purchased the right dress? How often have you heard "my daughter
    might want to wear this dress" (I know its not as much as it used to be)? Lots of fuss over that dress right? Now, the
    guys tux, rented it for $50-$100, got it tailored once in about 15 minutes, will go back to the tux shop the next day.
    Which is more important? Theres a balance that your after between the dress, the faces, and the background but I
    wouldnt overexpose that dress and risk losing the detail. But I may be wrong.

    As for what you already have shot here in this set. Print a few, see how they look. Isnt that what really matters in
    this one instance? Then work on making your next shoot better.

  26. Stephen--if it sounded like I said HSS is useless in all situations, then let me correct that. HSS is useless in many situations, particularly in bright conditions. :^) It is my opinion only. Looking at my 580EX and camera, I see that at ISO 100, if I want f8 @ 1/500th (equivalent to f11 @ 1/250th non HSS setting), I can only go to 10 feet, and that is assuming a one stop reduction (for fill), calculated from my 'permanent' 580EX setting of +2/3 comp. If I take the picture in bright sun light conditions, I find that the fill looks underexposed by a stop, given a middle valued target. This is typical of all guide number derived calculations outside in bright sun--the flash seemingly 'loses' power by about a stop due to lack of reflectance from surrounding surfaces. So practically, at the above setting, I am limited to 7 feet distance. Without high speed sync (f11 @ 1/250th), the flash calculator says 20 feet max range (really, 15ft) and that is more than 7ft. That is what I was referring to. The faster the shutter, the lesser the range, the wider the angle, the lesser the range. If I wanted a wider aperture, which I would only want if doing portraits, I could use a ND filter. Again--my opinion only.

    The exif info I see says no flash was fired on the last two shots.

    Dan--I use Opanda to get the exif info. You are right about upgrading the camera--does not do much--1/3 of a stop is tiny.

    Re the overexposure. There are two kinds of overexposure recommendations I've read. The first is to overexpose slightly--the 2/3 stop Michael mentioned, let some small/minor highlights blow, and then recover them in post. You get slightly more natural looking mid tones. You are still using fill flash, but less of it. I do this a lot.

    The second kind is actually used by some high end, top notch wedding photographers. The theory is to overexpose by a stop or two (no flash either), accepting that some parts will be blown, and setting contrast low in post, bringing up the shadows a bit. It actually looks OK, and particularly in black and white. Of course, I bet that they also provide at least several photos (probably in better lighting) where you see all the dress detail, etc.
  27. Nadine, thanks for the clarification on overexposure. I am going to have to try this the next time I take the kids to the

    Regarding GNs for high speed sync, according to this site page 4 for
    a 580EX, you lose a stop just be going past your x-sync, then you lose a stop for every stop in speed that you go.
    So, 1/500th would have been at least 2 stops of light from the flash that you would lose. If the flash was zoomed to
    17mm, then a full power pop HSS f/11 @ ISO 400 would have been 5 feet, unless I am reading this wrong and the
    flash was zoomed more.
  28. Dan--I don't know about the cheat sheet thing--I was just going by what I read off my actual 580EX and I tested a few settings out by shooting. I have heard about that general rule of thumb re light loss with high speed sync, though. My numbers above were for ISO 100, too.
  29. This was about a minutes worth of editing in CS3. lowered contrast, fill light etc.
  30. Here's the pic.
  31. I sow that already someone helped you with first foto You can tray to correct in Aperture... but take care next time for the right settings of you 580ex. Nadine had give to you some good settings: _ For better result in similar situation I recommend one big diffuser, (like REG/Lastolite_LL_LR82207_1_1_4_Stop_Diffuser_Fabric.html)... _ Or easier is to by a second 580ex, and use both (one master, one slave... I always have two 580ex-II with me)....
  32. Aurel - Please note that we don't want image links in the Wedding Forum.

    Please post the image at 700 pixels wide or less and that along with the caption will work to show the actual image in the thread itself. Thanks. Moderator
  33. Thanks Mary Pearson, it's good to know the image dimension for the post...

Share This Page