How to prevent blown-out Exposure @ beach

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by tdmac, Jun 3, 2010.

  1. tdmac macrumors 6502

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    #1
    So I was in Fla for memorial day. I had my 20D with a Canon 24-70mm. I was using it to take pics of the kids and family and the beach and in the ocean. These were all taken throught the day and the sun was nice and bright. I used the lens shroud but the pics were still all over exposed. Fixed many in Aperture the best I could but would like to know what I can do in the future to help. UV Filter? Other?
     
  2. ComputersaysNo macrumors 6502

    ComputersaysNo

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    #2
    Can you post an example? that would help a lot. With exif-info please :)
     
  3. tdmac thread starter macrumors 6502

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  4. jackerin macrumors 6502a

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  5. schataut macrumors member

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    #5
    One way you can get good results - meter background for proper exposure and use that setting in manual mode. Then use flash to light people properly. I use Nikon SB-800 and in manual mode it gives me distance information so I can choose my flash output accordingly.
     
  6. jampat macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    How bright was it? Check your shutter speed, if you were shooting wide open, you may have been at 1/8000 of a second and the camera couldn't expose less.

    As others have said, meter, check histogram, adjust and lock in manual.

    A UV filter won't help. If you need to slow down your shutter speeds, a CPOL or ND filter will help (with different effects, check the web for examples).
     
  7. gødspeed macrumors regular

    gødspeed

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    #7
    Beach photography is one of the best reasons to use a graduated neutral density filter.
     
  8. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #8
    Best answer here is really to just expose less. Many situations can "fool" the camera meter into giving an incorrect reading, in this case you can use the exposure compensation function of your camera to automatically reduce the exposure by some amount, so that you can get a proper exposure.

    Ruahrc
     
  9. HBOC macrumors 68020

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    #9
    Huh? that makes absolutely no sense. The camera meters for the brightest part of the composition. In affect, it will underexpose the rest of the scene, which in most cases, is the foreground.

    A split grad would help out quite a bit. The best way to avoid this is to not shoot in harsh lighting (mid day), and shoot with the sun (to your back).
    A polarizer may help a bit, but I haven't used a PL in years.
     
  10. tdmac thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    I am still working on posting some pics. Have to get the out of Aperture and resize. I do think I see the issue. I compared pics from Nov, when I was down there and last week. I was shooting RAW on AV both times but I see my ISO now was at 1600 and then it was 200.
     
  11. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #11
    Not necessarily. Especially when in the matrix metering mode, the camera might overexpose a sky in order to provide some detail in a dark but major central subject. Also, in spot or center weighted metering, the camera will expose for those areas and it won't matter much where or what the brightest part of the scene is.

    A split grad would only help if it's an unobstructed landscape photo with nothing blocking the horizon line. If you're taking a picture of a person standing on the beach, the split grad will underexpose the top half of their body and would be pretty much useless. I refer to the OP's comment about "taking pics of the kids and family"

    Ruahrc
     
  12. FrankieTDouglas macrumors 65816

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    #12
    Put your back to the sun when possible?

    and...

    Expose for the sky, shoot as low an ISO as possible, and then recover shadows in post.

    (or shoot film)
     
  13. ComputersaysNo macrumors 6502

    ComputersaysNo

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    #13
    If the iso was 1600 than there's a good chance that the camera was at it shortest shutterspeed and still that wasn't enough. Sounds plausible :)
     
  14. jackerin macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    I disagree. I'm only a beginner myself but I've found that when I have overexposure it is often solved by setting the camera to decrease the exposure. Of course there are situations like the one you decsribed, but the OP did not indicate how large, or which, part of the image was overexposed.

    Luckily with digital you can just change the parameters that affect the image, then check the LCD and see the effect immediately upon taking the next shot.
     
  15. carlgo macrumors 68000

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    #15
    There is the old adage: with digital, expose for the highlights. If the highlights are truly blown out, there is nothing you can do about it.

    Most cameras have the ability to take a spot meter reading on a chosen spot and hold that reading for the photo.

    Use RAW. It is better at recapturing highlights, but isn't able to make something out of nothing.

    When I have a few otherwise ok shots ruined by glaring beach sand, I went out and tried these techniques. They work and I now use them for everything.

    The graduated ND filter (lower half is filtered, top part isn't) is a good filter to have.

    Polarizing filters are my favorite and they really do well for taming those fluffy white clouds that get blown out like sand does.

    Nikons have a feature called D-lighting that supposedly works to preserve highlights. I haven't used that feature. I presume other makes may have the same sort of thing. It is certainly worth looking in to.

    Go down to the beach on a sunny day and take photos experimenting with all this and you will figure it out. Even so, digital is still limited highlight-wise and there will be situations that are very difficult to expose perfectly unless you shoot on slightly overcast days, early in the morning or late in the day.
     
  16. Edge100 macrumors 68000

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    #16
    A sunny day presents a big problem: huge dynamic range.

    Your eye can see detail in the clouds/sky AND in the shadows on people's faces, but your camera's sensor cannot.

    You've got two options to deal with this:

    1. Lower the brightness of the brightest parts of the image (i.e. the sky), OR
    2. Increase the brightness of the dimmest parts of the image (i.e. the people)

    There are a few ways to acheive this. First, you could, as suggested, try a graduated ND filter. This is a great way of lowering the brightness of the sky, such that the overall dynamic range now fits into a range the sensor can handle. Unfortunately, with moving subjects, you're going to constantly be adjusting the filter. For static subjects, a GND filter works well, though.

    You could exposure bracket (expose once for the sky and once for the people) and then combine the exposures in Photoshop. But again, this is difficult when you have movement in the image.

    By far the easiest solution, however, is one that no one seems to have mentioned: fill flash. Stick a speedlight on your camera's hotshoe, set it for maybe -1EV, expose for the background, and fire away. Since your shutter speed will be very high on a sunny day (even when stopped down to f/11 or f/16), you'll need to engage high-speed sync mode on your flash.

    This is the EXACT scenario that fill flash is appropriate for. Read more about flash photography here.
     

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