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Background bright, front too dark

Lena E , Apr 21, 2011; 11:54 a.m.

How do i take photos that are brightly lit in the background (indoors)? ie. Window displays that have florescent lights behind the item displayed? Usually when i take such photos, the front of the subject is dark yet the background is very bright. What settings should my camera be set at?



Maury Cohen , Apr 21, 2011; 12:04 p.m.

If you get close enough so that the viewfinder is filled with your foreground subject, and lock your exposure there, this should give you better exposure for your subject. If your camera offers the option, you could also copmensate the exposure +2 or +3 to achieve a similar adjustment in overall exposure.

Ryan Larsen , Apr 21, 2011; 12:30 p.m.

When your dealing with the exposure of a photo meaning evaluate your photo whether the image is to dark or to bright. With most digital cameras there are automatic settings such as the compact sony cybershot DSC-TX10 compact DSLR it has an amazing Exmor R CMOS sensor that allows it to work perfectly with the type of lens, or the Canon Rebel EOS T2i mid level DSLR with the ISO shooting levels it allows you to shoot in a variety of different settings. Most DSLR cameras have some sort of setting or inner computer that allows for a variety of different shots it should tell you in your manual.
If it still does not work then most of the cameras have a sliding scale some where that contains a positive and negative number settings mainly starting at 0 now if you slide it up to positive it will make the photo brighter if you dial it down to the negative then the photo will be darker, I suggest that you mess around with it and find the settings that match your style and liking the best.

Jim Momary , Apr 21, 2011; 12:57 p.m.

If reflections off glass are not a concern, then add flash. Or, as suggested, add to the exposure. That will of course even further blow out the bright background.

Rick Sands , Apr 21, 2011; 01:18 p.m.

Depends a lot on what camera you have, and what it's capable of. If you have an advanced P&S or a DSLR, look up 'metering' in your manual and see if you have spot metering capability. If so, use that to meter from the subject (instead of the background, or an average of the 2) and try that. Other suggestions above are also valid.

Jay Poel , Apr 21, 2011; 01:52 p.m.

im's suggestion is the only one that will really work if you want both the foreground and background exposed properly - you need to add a flash.

Or you expose for the foreground and let the background blow out (turn completely white). You can do this by "spot metering" as Rick suggests or by adjusting your "exposure compensation". It would help to know what type of camera you are using.

Hmmmm ..... Ryan, the D3S and D3X are not even in your best pro camera section but the advanced consumer D7000 is? Really? Oh, and the D300S is considered a professional camera by most people.

Tim Lookingbill , Apr 21, 2011; 02:44 p.m.

If all you have is a pop up flash on your camera you can use a hand mirror with or with out a rather large white board like foam core to bounce the flash for more natural looking fill flash. You will have to adjust the power of the flash in your camera and do tests for distance from subject. See the demo below where I expose to retain the overcast outdoor scene as well as the backlit subject stepping back a bit and bouncing flash toward the ceiling. The exposure is the same for all three shots. The subject is about 4 feet away.

Another alternative is to get a dedicated flash that swivels in different directions.

All default ACR settings shooting Raw with camera's Auto White Balance.

JC Uknz , Apr 21, 2011; 06:25 p.m.

My solution to this problem would be in editing where having taken the shot to correctly expose for the bright areas* I then lift the darker areas with an adjustment layer. If I wanted to get more complicated I could take two photos, one exposed for the bright areas and a second for the darker areas, and then blend them in editing or other editing procedure depending on the arrangement of the subject matter.
As far as I am concerned the camera and editor are equally important tools towards the final result and knowledge and ability in editing affects how I go about taking photos when faced with situations beyond the ability of the camera to handle them. Some cameras have HDR modes which enables them to do in-camera what I and others do in editing,
Without HDR it is obvious that one should try for the best and correct exposure for the subject as suggested by previous writers, but failing that one should get a camera file which will enable you to work it up in editing. But you need more than the basic brightness/contrast tool found in simpler editing programmes.
*Known as 'exposing to the right', which refers to the histogram found in some cameras, where one arranges one's exposure so that required highlight detail is exposed correctly and not 'blown out', ie. white with no detail.

Jon Robert , Apr 22, 2011; 11:16 a.m.

Another topic to explore is ND filters. ND filters will reduce the brightness of the entire scene or a portion. This brings the brightness under control for a more manageable phototaking effort.

In addition you can use a cameras setting for night time portrait or what ever it is called. This will expose for the back ground and then deploy the flash. In this case a very fast exposure, where a dark back ground would have a longer exposure and then deploy the flash.

In addition you can use a rear curtain flash setting. Again causing an exposure independent of the added flash.

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