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How to handle outdoor light that blows highlights?

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Old 04-16-2008, 06:13 AM
SwampDonkey SwampDonkey is offline
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Re: How to handle outdoor light that blows highlig

I would avoid metering the windows and then lightening the crowd later. The main reason for this is one of noise. Digital cameras always contain much more noise in the shadows and it's for this reason that you often hear guidance to 'expose to the right', which would effectively over expose an image but you then darken it down in post processing. I've tried this recently with some sunrise shots and the difference in the quality of the shadow areas between a normally-exposed shot, and a shot that been over exposed by an amount and then had the exposure brought back down by the same amount in Lightroom, is considerable. Sure they look very similar from a first glance but a closer look reveals better details.

So for me, the alternatives are the already mentioned use of flash or ND grad filters or you could even consider bracketing shots and then adding the windows from the lower exposure shot to the windows of the shot exposed for the audience.

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Old 04-16-2008, 06:19 AM
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garibaldi garibaldi is offline
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Re: How to handle outdoor light that blows highlig

swampass is right, digital shadow noise sucks!
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Old 04-16-2008, 07:20 AM
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LQQKER LQQKER is offline
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Re: How to handle outdoor light that blows highlig

I would have simply shot several photographs quickly from the same position, probably at a higher iso than normal to help reduce any blur. Not to the point where you have high grain. Expose a couple for back lighting and a few for the crowd, keeping the camera to the near original position and zoom consistant (if hand held). Take it into photoshop, mask, cut, layer, opacity etc. and adjust the images together using various portions. I've done this before and the results were fine.
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Old 06-04-2008, 05:05 PM
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AFrazier AFrazier is offline
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Re: How to handle outdoor light that blows highlig

I actually had this same issue. You don't shoot people in sunlight ... of course. So my subjects were set in the shade. However, I wanted the building in the background behind the shrubs and trees to show.
So I metered the exposure for the sunlit building, noted the aperture and shutter speed, then focused on my subjects in the shade, reset the aperture and shutter speed for the longer exposure.
Then I shot the clean shot of the subjects, reset to the noted aperture and shutter speed for the sunlit building, and blended the two images together in Photoshop, fixed the hue in the shrubs, and added a little saturation. Both were properly exposed on half the picture. Two halves make a whole.

See the attached image for an example of the mentioned photograph.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg A_Frazier_Biltmore_3.jpg (98.4 KB, 37 views)

Last edited by AFrazier; 06-04-2008 at 05:25 PM. Reason: Added an example
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Old 06-19-2008, 01:28 PM
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willdoak willdoak is offline
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Re: How to handle outdoor light that blows highlig

Thanks for all the suggestions!
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Old 07-14-2008, 09:23 AM
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MrAlexajlex MrAlexajlex is offline
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Re: How to handle outdoor light that blows highlig

Inside a building like that it is tricky.

I'd say shoot a few frames and bracket them to create an HDR like composition.

If you shoot in RAW you have 1 stop either way so you can export 3 different frames (EV -1, 0, +1) and combine them for a final pick (granted a real HDR with 5-6 frames can get better results).

If I'm outside and have control of the subjects I always nearly use the sung to their backs as a kicker and light the subjects with the flash (meter for sky and play then underexpose -1EV). Don't be afraid of the sun (having them in the shade is nice but not always an option. Besides having them face the sun creates more problems than it solves (their squinting, they are getting sweaty, the sun is a huge softbox and it gets a bit hard to shape that light (if not impossible) when they are facing it).
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