General discussion

Bad Lighting Conditions

Joe Randolph, I cannot remember if I sent this file before.
Nazi Nuremburg Olympic Stadium.

I hated to view this stadium two years ago while touring Germany and all that the stadium stood for. Across from the stadium were the former Nazi SS barracks.
Adolph Hitler used to stand at the podium and spread his doctrine.

A very gloomy, overcast day when I took this photo.
At the time, I thought my photo was going to be a disaster.
Thank God, with the help of Photoshop, the photo came out better than I expected.
My photo is not that good at all. Just as an example to show here.

Has anyone ever experienced a potential disaster while shooting in bad lighting conditions? I am sure most of us have.
How do you compensate for it with exposure settings?


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Bad Lighting

A good example of problem lighting.
Sometimes the lighting is such, that it is impossible to capture what your eye is seeing.

Even knowing it will probably turn out bad .. take the photo anyway.
Sometimes you are surprised by the results ... and sometimes not.

The sky was apparently very dark with very bright breaks in the clouds. That will confuse the exposure meter and usually result in a dark photo. Very much like a "back-lit" photo.

You did a good job with PhotoShop.
The building is the important part of the photo and you pulled it out of the darkness.

If you were faced with such lighting again, you might try using "spot" metering.
Most cameras default to Center Weighted Average Metering.
But many cameras will let you set the metering to "spot" metering.
Then the camera takes its exposure information from whatever is in the center of the scene (the building). That way, the camera would ignore the extremes of lighting in that troubling sky. The sky is what really caused the problem.
You would likely still need to use PhotoShop on the sky.

Good job on saving a photograph.
A lot of history with that building.


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Bad lighting

Encounter this quite a bit, cost me quite a bit to counter the problems:

When it is bright, I use the Sunny 16 rule, and if this is not enough, then I screw on my Singh Ray vari Duo neutral density filter (can get up to 8 stop reduction of light, plus a built-in polarizer to cut down reflections).

If there is too much contrast, the sky/background gets too bright and the foreground is too dark/in the shade, I use my Singh Ray graduated ND filter.

For Sunset shots with the bright sun at the horizon, I have the Singh Ray reverse ND filter.

For daytime with too much contrast/shadown on someone's face, I use my flash with hi-speed sync mode as fill flash (I have Canon flash, the hi-speed sync mode will avoid the camera defaulting to a slower shutter speed and blow out the bright background). Also have a set of reflectors (but often left them in the car or at home).

For night shots, I use the brightest lens I have with IS/tripod. For night or indoor portraits, I have multiple flashes and a set of studio strobes with a bunch of accessories (softbox, umbrellas, grids, etc).

I also have a Litepanel micro when I need continuous light indoor.

When scuba diving, I often use my Niterider lights that are almost as bright as the headlights. I broke my underwater strobes a while ago when the water was too choppy.

When all these fail or fall short, there is Photoshop. It can pull out details in the shadows pretty well especially if you shoot in RAW.

I haven't tried out HDR yet, but this can be quite useful in difficult lighting situations especially when there is a lot of contrast in different areas of the scene (can't be easily corrected by filters).

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Bad Lighting Conditions

I do not know that much about filters at all except A-1, A-2 ,B-1 and B-2.
That is about it for me and using a polarizer filter.

What the heck is your Singh Ray graduated ND filter all about?
What is the cost on that filter?

HDR: I am still configuring that also. That is difficult to master.
I guess shooting in RAW would be the best way to go with HDR.
(Jump shoots in RAW with processing HDR also.)

Hjfok, so where are your new photos to show? I always enjoy viewing them.
Can you send us some more underwater shots?
Have you ever met up with a Morey Eel? Not my cup of tea to do so at all. Yikes!!



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Correct light metering is the key

The problem, here, is that the dynamic range of light is more than what the camera is sometimes capable. There are a few assisted alternative:

1. Put on one or more Graduate Neutral Densitiy filters, to cut down the excess light of sky. GND also varies from -2 to -8 light loosing stop, choose well. Then, you can measure adjust aperture and shutter speed for correct light metering. If you put more than one filter that may result in the picture's rim. More precaution is upon the highlight.

2. Flashes and gels are also another alternative. I always use the 2nd or rear curtain shutter to brighten and fill in the darken background; in addition to that tripod is a must. Meanwhile, use the color flash gel to correct the camera's white balance. Or, you can even shift white balance, provided that you know what color the camera recorded different from your eyes' perception.

3. Always shoot in the manual mode, and spot metering, for more precision and control, in addition to RAW file recording. If it's possible, bracket shooting is also a must for photoshop reprocessing, and also give you some idea what the right light compensation may be.

4. Try the brighter lenses with small aperture value. The darkest lenses, I now use is around F2.8. Most F1.2 - F1.8 lenses are very helpful when shooting in the dark. Manually focusing will be the preferable choice. Carl Zeiss lenses are very good when shooting upon the dim light circumstance. Visit my website witnessing how helpful the bright lenses are.

That's all I can think of for now. Good luck, Kevin.

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Correct light metering is the key

Jump, thanks for your link to your website.
I do have a Nikon 50mm F1.2 lens.
I need more experience with filters and how to use them like you do.


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While I was at your multiply site
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Singh Ray is one of the several manufacturers for high quality filters. However it is the only manufacturer who makes a variable ND filter with 2.6 to 8 stop reduction of light. It is also the only manufacturer who makes a reverse graduated ND filter.

I use the vari Duo ND filter with a built-in polarizer mostly for the HD video (with my 5D Mark II), very harsh daylight and when I need to use a wider aperture or slower shutter speed in bright daylight. The variable ND filter function is excellent for HD video when there is change of lighting, I just adjust the ND filter intensity without adjusting ISO, aperture or shutter speed. The only other thing I need to change is the manual focus. It also allows me to shoot HD video in wider aperture for the bokeh effect in bright daylight, without using some crazy high shutter speed.

The vari ND filter can also be useful for HDR, since I can adjust many different stops by just turn the filter. I don't need to keep adjusting the exposure compensation or mess around with the bracketing. Just turn the filter dial and use my remote control to fire the shots.

The reverse graduated ND filter is darkest in the middle, specifically designed to take shots of Sunset in the horizon, where the middle part of the photo is the brightest. It helps to decrease contrast.

A normal graduated ND filter also helps to decrease contrast between the sky and the foreground.

The Singh Ray vari N Duo filter costs more than $400 each, the reverse graduated ND and graduated ND filters cost $120-$200 each.

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Singh Ray vari duo ND filter costs are out of sight!
$400 and over. Holly mackerel!

Nice informative post. Thanks,


P.S. Any new photos to share?

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Not much exciting photos

I had some photos from a recent Easter party in a local park. I used the Singh Ray vari-N-Duo filter so that I can use a wider aperture and fill flash on my son's photo (it was a very sunny day, taken around 1pm).

I also try out my new EF 100mm f/2.8L IS lens, but I shot these with only one hand. My other hand was holding my son's drink and I was running after him while taking snapshots on the fly. The hybrid stabilization works quite well, considering I am holding the camera with only one hand doing close up shots.

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Not much exciting photos

Jump, I liked the photos.

I also joined this Friday AM.
I have no idea what I am doing on multiply at all. The photographers there are great!
I must be out of my mind to join this group!! Maybe I can wow the members with my daylily photos.

Off subject: (I loved khunchild/Venice photos on
(sorry I do not have that link right now.)

How do you get these Actors in Venice to pose for your photographs?


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He was a very serious amtuer photographer

In fact, he brought along some assistants, a photograph processor, a lighting set-up men, and a local guide. That was what I heard from another friend who went there with him. Any way, I respect his efforts for shooting all those beautiful pictures. I really enjoyed them very much, too.

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You guys are expert with all these equipment.
I started taking courses With the New York Institute of Photography back in 1990.

Unfortunately for the past 10 years i had some health issues and had to put down my Minolta Maxxum 9xi usig slide film.

It was the fastest camera at that time.

I learn a simple trick though and was wondering if any of you have ever try it.

I use to carry a 4x6 neutral gray card bough at a photo shop and as the sun is past mid day = i would turn my back to the light or area i was going to photograph and take a center weighted, spot metering reading or make sure that i had all the sensors inside the metering rectangal pointing at the neutral gray card.

I was in this manner to a large degree reading the sun light that was falling on the area of interest.

Then bracket around those readings and use to get fantastic pictures.

The bracketing help in the event there were many large rocks or trees in the area.

If the sky was was part gray part blue = i would just spot meter the gray part and bracket around that too.

Taking a sunrise or sunset picture = i would just make sure that the entire sun was out of the frame moving my camera to the right or left depending on the area of the sky i felt was more neutral at the time.

That little neutral gray card came in handy for taking pictures of people facing direct sun as i would put the card next to them and meter around that and bracket.

Since unfortunately, i can't do photography work anymore, i was wondering if any of you have try it with your digital cameras and what result you got.

I still have my equipment, but can't find batteries for it anymore because they had a strange propriotory shape.
But it is a beauty to look at.
I don't think i can just sell it.


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Minolta SLR

Sorry to hear your health keeps you from the hobby you enjoyed.

If you got your hands on a Digital SLR you would be delighted.
It has brought new capabilities that you would enjoy.

You no longer have to think about the cost of film and developing.
It makes bracketing much less costly.
Although I see too many people who don't bracket when they should.

I am familiar with the neutral gray card but never used it.
I missed out on some shots because I didn't use it.
Maybe some people will dig out that gray card and give it a try, now that you brought it up.

I used to take slides with my SLR film camera (Canon AE1).
If you are able, you might think about getting a 35mm slide scanner and turning those slides into digital photos.

Then you can turn those digital photos into a slide show and burn them into a DVD.
Then you could make copies for your friends and relatives.

I did that with several thousand 35mm slides.
It took a lot of time but I got to enjoy all those photos again while doing it.

And thanks for the reminder about the gray card.


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Gray Card

My Kodak gray card is probably still sitting in one of the boxes in my storage room. It works for digital cameras just as it does for film cameras. I should but I don't really use it any more since digital camera has histogram and instant review. I do spot meter a lot. There are some newer versions like the Expodisc and some other white balance caps, cost a lot more than the good old gray card. Thanks for sharing.

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Some new photos
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Some new photos

nice touch of spring on Photobucket.


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your pictures obviously show how quick you get yourselves familiar to the new 100F2.8L IS. I love every picture. Post more. Feel free to visit my recent trip to Spain. Here's the link :

Sorry that I typed in Thai. Just enjoy the sceneries. Those places were in Bacelona, Madrid, Zaragoza, Toledo, Cordoba in Spain,and lastly Lisbon of Portugal

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Great photos

Love all your travel photos. Can't wait for my kids to grow up some more to travel. Very impressive wide angle and indoor low light shots. Thanks for sharing. I'm taking notes where to go in the future.

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Spot metering helps

I dislike tethering digital techniques to old film techniques when the film techniques aren't self-evident from how the new equipment works. Using something like the "sunny 16 rule" with those fixed settings for aperture and "film speed" will work in most cases, but don't make the best use of your digital equipment (and if you're still using film, try using "sunny f11" rather than f16 if you're shooting sports rather than landscapes; you need the speed more than the depth of field).

Your digital camera has all of the possible "film speeds" built in to its program, and a sophisticated light metering program to make it possible to just point and shoot, so your real problem is determining which subject must be in focus. As you've seen, as long as focus and depth of field are satisfactory, photoshop or Gimp can fix the contrast. If you want to control contrast in-camera, you can use your spot meter (if you have one) as follows: meter from a dark element in the picture if you want the darks to come out lighter; meter from a light element if you want to brights to tone down darker; meter from something reasonably medium (such as grass) if you're afraid high contrast will fool the camera.

Depth of field is a tricky issue, but your "landscape" preset on most cameras will take care of that for you. Focusing on the most distant object in the background will effectively also choose the correct aperture for clear focus near and far (but at the cost of slow shutter speed). Extreme low light conditions make using a tripod or monopod a consideration.

I was just watching my Ken Burns "Ansel Adams" dvd this week and thinking back on all the obsession and passion about using his "zone system" to get full-range prints in the era of film. Today's digital cameras provide the raw material for programs like Photoshop to accomplish all the "dodging" and "burning" easily and with precision, where the limitations on contrast come from lcd screens and not from printing paper...

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Spot metering helps

Welcome, and your comments. Excellent! Spot metering.

"Ansel Adams" and the obsession and passion about using his "zone system" was interesting to read from you. Please explain the zone system further for me.
I use Adobe Photoshop daily as a graphic artist and understand dodging and burning.

Joe Randolph is our Mod and suggested to me "Just set your digital camera on auto and start taking pictures." Joe is a PRO!!

You are suggesting "Just point and shoot." Same advice.

I guess I will and let my camera take over the guesswork for me.
I am an amateur photographer here on the Digital Camera Forum.
I have shown several photos on this forum. Nothing that National Geographic would ever pick up. As an example:
Here is my new Turkish girlfriend that I met high up in the mountains of Turkey.
She is from Capadoccia, Turkish mountains.

Isn?t this young female beautiful.
We French kiss each other and she never spits in my mouth.
Thank God and Allah both!

I love to read and view everything here. It is so cool to learn from others.

OK, Razzl, please show us some photos of yours. Do not be bashful here.
Looking forward to view your photos.



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Sunny 16 rule

I use this term because people know what it means. The Sunny 16 rule gives one some idea about settings based on incident lighting rather than the reflective reading from the TTL meter of the camera. The Sunny 16 rule is not one fixed setting. You modify it according to how much shadow detail you want to expose. If you need more shutter speed, then it also helps you to calculate the aperture needed. It won't be very useful if all you know is setting it at f/16 and use 1/ISO shutter speed as it gets defined in a textbook. For example, one tough metering situation is to use the camera meter to take a correctly exposed photo in sunny snowy day. If you want to get the right exposure of someone's face (which is usually in shade), then you may want to bump up 2 to 3 stops to get the right exposure of their face. So you may want to consider f/11 (or f/Cool with 1/50 at ISO 100. But if you are photographing someone skiing, then you need faster shutter speed and can consider f/8 with 1/400 to 1/500 at ISO 100. The advantage of digital camera is that you can review this quickly. If this rule does not work, then you can tweak the manual settings easily to fine tune it and use the histogram.
Don't get me wrong, I do a lot of spot metering too. Spot metering has its strength and weakness too. What works best depends on what you want to shoot. There is no one-for-all formula to get the right exposure. The camera is very good in most cases but some tough situation may still need to use our head to figure out the setting. We often are in a rush to snap the shot with little time to think, so thanks goodness the camera has a sophisticated system.

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Sunny 16

Here are some photos I took last week during the ski trip. I used the Sunny 16 rule instead of spot metering with the camera. The first snowman photo use the Sunny 16, to expose for the snowman in the sun. The second one stop down to f/11 to expose for the snowlady in the shade. My son's face is in the shade, so took the photo in f/8 and f/11. Part of him is in the shadow and part is in the sun, won't be easy/consitent to rely on the camera's metering. This is an easy and quick way to snap the shot quickly using the Sunny 16 rule.

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Some new photos

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