Photo Question

I’ve been trying to learn how to get a great picture of my subject while also showing the pretty colors of a sunset/sunrise/golden clouds/whatever pretty lighting background. I don’t want to have to fix it in photoshop. I want to get a pretty picture with my camera. I don’t own a nice flash, and I don’t like the way that the flash that is built into most cameras (including mine) seems to make a person look washed out/shiny/generally unattractive and takes away the beautiful light. But if I have the settings set to good lighting for the subject, it seems to blow out the light in the background.

Here’s an example (though I didn’t use flash in any of these). When Tom and I went to Molena, I was trying to get a picture of him but also wanted the sky to show in all it’s blue glory.

First, I had a picture of Tom that showed his face. The sky was washed out.

Then I changed the settings to show the sky better. But, as you can see, Tom isn’t well lit.

Next, I tried to go middle of the road. But I didn’t like it because he was still in the dark while the sky was still not rich in color.

I tried again to get the sky in colors I liked, but I still couldn’t figure out lighting the subject.

And finally, with Tom over the whole “stand there and smile so I can figure this out” thing I was doing, I got one more blown out photo. Then I gave up and ran down the road to see if these folks wanted to give me their farm.

I could definitely use some advice. I ran into this problem again at a wedding Saturday night. There was a gorgeous sunset, but I couldn’t get a picture with a well lit subject AND the sunset in it. I tried doing aperture priority instead of manual to see if it’d help, but it didn’t. What do y’all do to make this work?



8 thoughts on “Photo Question”

  1. To be honest, I always take two or three exposures and blend it to have it look like I saw it. I don’t think I have ever managed to expose high contrast images for a single shot without losing detail in either my highlights or my shadows. I think the human eye still has the advantage when it comes to dynamic range.

  2. I completely agree with Sunira. I’ve never blended photos before, but that’s sounds like a really cool trick.

    So here’s the thing… You are trying to light 2 -different- subjects (sky & person), with only one exposure setting. Unfortunately, because our cameras are not like the human eye (like Sunira said), there’s no possible way to light both subjects *without* manipulation (when the sun isn’t lighting your subject). This could be done via photoshop (i.e. Sunira’s trick), OR … you have to add light.

    I know you don’t have an external flash, but did you know you could use your pop up flash for *filler* light? Think of it this way: When you’re in manual, your camera is asking you what light settings to use. Well, you either choose to expose to the sky OR you choose to expose to Tom — not both. BUT, if you can expose to the sky AND have some external light brighten Tom, you can manage to get both! So your subject is no longer in the shadows because you’re providing him/her with subject light. Granted, an external flash is best for these situations, but you can STILL use your pop-up flash! Just remember that it’s also limited by distance (meaning, the light can only bounce off so far from the camera to subject).

    Shooting with a pop-up flash INDOORS is not quite as attractive. So try it outdoors 🙂 Hope that helped!

    Check out this article:

  3. p.s.

    Sorry, this so long! The reason pop-up flashes indoors are not very attractive, is because you are photographing a person with a burst of light right in FRONT of their face. That’s crazy! Or their eyes look crazy from half-way shutting at the burst of light 🙂 Natural light comes from ABOVE not in front. That’s the difference with an external flash… you can angle the light to shoot from ABOVE your camera (or bounce it from a wall), instead of literally *shooting* the person with face-on light. That’s not natural. And clearly, the ghost-face person doesn’t look natural.

    Light splashed in front of someone’s face doesn’t look good… unless…

    The sky/sun is behind you and suddenly, your face is dark. NOW it would make sense for light to come in FRONT of a person’s face. Does that make sense?

    1. Hey girl! It’s okay to leave long comments! =) Yeah, I get why external vs. pop up flashes are different, but I tried the pop up for fill light at the wedding last weekend when taking Tom’s picture with the sunset behind him, and it just made him look shiny. Which makes sense since it was ridiculously hot, and we were all sweaty. Anyway, I might get a diffuser for it like Sunira suggested then try again.

  4. I know – you can practice for a LONG time taking LOTS of pictures of someone’s baby. How about mine??? Maybe on Saturday???

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