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Taking Photo's with a backlight.

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  • Taking Photo's with a backlight.

    Hello, I'm an amateur obviously, and I've been trying to take pictures of the sun setting and I'm trying to get color into the foreground, i.e. the grass and fence posts, etc....but I'm not having very good luck at finding the right settings. Could someone give me some advice on aperture and shutter speed, etc... they use to do a similar photo?

    Thank you in advance,


  • #2
    Re: Taking Photo's with a backlight.

    If your camera will allow it:

    Take a meter reading of the area you want detail in, set your camera on manual, dial in that reading, then recompose and shoot away.


    • #3
      Re: Taking Photo's with a backlight.

      or as I do, take 2-3 shots, some under exposed and some over exposed. Then blend them to make a shot that has a nice looking sky/sun and a clear foreground.

      Another way is to use a graduated filter to reduce the light from the sun, but keep the foreground bright


      • #4
        Re: Taking Photo's with a backlight.

        I have a digital rebel XT so I have a lot of options with my settings. I have no meter or anything like to take readings with, so I guess I just need to play more with the settings.


        • #5
          Re: Taking Photo's with a backlight.

          I have an older Rebel and it has a manual setting on it. Read the instruction manual that came with the camera, it should tell you how to do this. (the meter is built into the camera)


          • #6
            Re: Taking Photo's with a backlight.

            In some situations, particularly with people, you can use fill flash to properly light the foreground. Your manual will explain this. You obviously can't light the entire foreground but it does produce interesting and usuable pictures.


            • #7
              Re: Taking Photo's with a backlight.

              Originally posted by keroger2k View Post
              I have a digital rebel XT so I have a lot of options with my settings. I have no meter or anything like to take readings with, so I guess I just need to play more with the settings.
              You do have a meter - it's built in to the camera.

              When shooting landscape, you're going to want a smaller aperture (higher f-number) to get greater depth of field. The downside of this is that you will need a slower shutter speed so a tripod is a must and a remote release cable will be an advantage.

              So, assuming you're going to use f/16 you would set the camera on aperture priority mode (Av) and dial f/16 in. Zoom in to the foreground (no sky in the viewfinder), half press the shutter and take a note of the shutter speed the camera gives you. Now zoom into the sky area, half press the shutter and take a note of this second shutter speed.

              Compose your shot. Set your focus point as required and then switch off autofocus on the lens (as we're going to be taking two shots, we don't want to run the risk of the focus point changing).

              Set the camera to fully manual (M) mode, dial in f/16 and your first shutter speed. Take the shot. Dial in the second shutter speed. Take the shot.

              These two shots can then be blended in post-processing as described by chrishoggy above.

              If you really want to be anal, there's no reason for why you couldn't set the camera to bracket each of the shots. You'd end up with 6 shots (3 for the foreground and 3 for the sky - each typicially a stop different in exposure). You would then have a huge choice of shots to match up as you want them. If you've shot in RAW then you'll have even more control over the output.

              It sounds complicated, but it gets easier with practice as you become more familiar with the camera. Indeed this can be a great exercise to practice new things on the camera. Because the light will often be changing very quickly at this time of day there will be a need to get the readings done and then get the shots off as quickly as possible.

              Apologies for the long post, and if I've bored anyone. Still awake? Good



              • #8
                Re: Taking Photo's with a backlight.

                SwampDonkey is right - at least from the totally digital side. This is how I would go about creating this image, and what I would recommend. However, there is another way that some would argue is infinitely easier, and I mention it only because no one has yet offered the option - use a split neutral-density filter. This is a piece of glass that you mount to your lens and you line the transition of dark to clear up with the horizon. It allows you to set the camera to record the darker foreground without blowing out your sky by darkening your sky as well.

                I generally carry a few filters, but never one of these - there just gets to be a point where I say it's too much. You may be the sort of photographer who loves to carry gear, and this may not be an issue. For me, it's a back-end/front-end issue - where do I want to do my work. Carrying a filter is infinitely easier than merging several shots (although Photoshop's HDR makes this point questionable), yet for as often as I "need" a split ND filter, it makes little sense to have one when there is an alternative.

                Either way, good luck - just keep trying until you are satisfied with your results.


                • #9
                  Re: Taking Photo's with a backlight.

                  An ND Grad filter is ok, as long as the number of stops difference between the sky and the foreground matches the filter. Otherwise you need to carry multiple ND grads (I've got 1, 2 & 3 stop ND grads).

                  The other problem with using an ND grad is the need for the horizon to be pretty much a straight line otherwise parts of sky will be overexposed and/or parts of the foreground will be underexposed. For examples of what I mean take a look at Cokin's page here and look at the trees. The skies look great but the trees aren't looking so good.

                  ND grads obviously have a use, and non-digital users have little choice, but it certainly a case of picking the right time and the right shot to use them.



                  • #10
                    Re: Taking Photo's with a backlight.

                    Yet another options is to try to fix it in Photoshop. The Shadows and Highlights filter can give a good start, getting back details in the shadow areas.

                    This was shot right into the sun and then used S/H filter.
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