Best way to deal with high contrast situation?

Okay, here is the scenario - I'm taking shots of a truck loading in an industrial area (yes, exciting I know!), so I have to make do with the situation regarding light..

Weather is generally dull here at the moment, but somedays there is strong sun and hence strong shadows across my subject. Generally the front is in shadow and the rear half of the trailer in full low sun. My P&S Fuji A202 has, I think, only auto settings and so ends up under-exposing the shadows to counter the bright areas..

I shou;d be getting a better bridge camera soon so I will have more control over exposure, so the questions are:.

Is there anything I can do now, and.

What is the best way of dealing withthis when I have full control? I expect to set the ASA and exposure for the dull areas and deal with the brightness as best I can.......

Hope this makes a change from YAWCSIB questions!.

Thanks in advance.


Comments (7)

If you get a DSLR you can control this through metering settings on the camera. it will not do away with the contrast differences but it will allow you to control what the camera uses to meter. you can also boost or decrease exposure, and/or combinations. Just using a DSLR will provide a large boost in detail and image quality over a P&S..

As to what you can do now. If you have photoshop you can play the shadows and highlights and see what happens. the question is do you have the detail in the image to begin with..

Good luckOlympus E-510 and a bunch of stuff to hang on it...

Comment #1

Even if your camera is very simple with only automatic settings, there might be a way to tell it to use the *center* of the view for exposure control (instead of some weighted average of the full scene), so that you can point the camera to the 'point of interest', lock the focus and exposure, and get the image, and the most important parts (i.e. shadows) correctly exposed...

Comment #2

With a DSLR you could use a polarising filter, which reduces the dynamic range (contrast, effectively) of a scene by suppressing specular reflections from the brightly-lit areas. So the part in direct sunshine would be reduced in brightness more than the shadow areas..

I don't know if you can use a polarising filer on a non-DSLR camera. The most important thing is - whenever possible - to try and avoid the situation where half of your subject is sunlit and half is in deep shadow, which is never going to be easy to photograph. Clouds are good!.

Best wishesMike..

Comment #3

The_Catman wrote:.

My P&S Fuji A202 has, I think, only auto settings and so ends upunder-exposing the shadows to counter the bright areas..

Your A202, as far as I know, has no way to lock the exposureexposure decisions are made automatically through a multi-segment metering scheme when the shutter button is pushed (no half-press lock option available). You do, however, have exposure compensation available in the menu ranging from -2.1 to +1.5 EV. If you want the shadow areas to be lighter, use some + exposure compensation (it's chosen in 1/3 EV steps, but you might start with +1 EV and vary it from there)..

You could also download Olympus Master 2 software free of charge. It has a handy editing tool called auto tone correction, "In contrast to the traditional tone curve correction tool, "auto tone correction" applies a different, self-generated tone curve to every pixel in the image. As a result, regions of the image which are too dark are brought into proper balance without loss of contrast in regions which are already well-balanced." It was first available in Olympus Studio 1.2, and I've used it with much satisfaction to open up shadow areas, especially when I've purposely underexposed images to prevent blowing out highlights...

Comment #4

I live in Mexico and we normally have sun. That means we also have shadows. The dynamic rangethe difference between the lightest and darkestwill easily exceed the capabilities of my camera..

If you blow the highlightsget pure whiteor your shadowsget blackthere isn't much you can do. If you use your histogram so you don't exceed either end of the spectrum, you can recover detail from either over-exposed or under-exposed areas with a good program for post processing..

Patrick T. KellyOaxaca, Mexico..

Comment #5

I have this issue with challenging Dynamic Range quite often and sometimes it is impossible to contend with in an adequate manner. With a compact camera you are really only left with the option of putting the camera on a tripod and (assuming the camera allows some manual control) bracketing the exposures with the intention of merging them later in Photoshop. If the camera allows enough control you can use HDR software..

With the DSLR and also the Fuji 9100, I have the options of taking that software approach or of using Cokin ND Grad filters. These attach in a holder screwed into the filter thread as the end of the lens, and one then positions the dark part of the filter over the over-bright area and the clear part over the area which you wish to photograph as it is..

In your situation it may not be possible to get decent looking shots in the loading bay on high contrast days. If that is the case then crop the image and expose for the most important part of the subject.

John.Please visit me at:

Comment #6

Thanks for all the replies, very helpful, all of them..

Especially grateful for this, jrt, as I didn't know I had some element of EV control but I do, so I can definitely do something to help straight away..

Jrtrent wrote:.

The_Catman wrote:.

My P&S Fuji A202 has, I think, only auto settings and so ends upunder-exposing the shadows to counter the bright areas..

Your A202, as far as I know, has no way to lock theexposureexposure decisions are made automatically through amulti-segment metering scheme when the shutter button is pushed (nohalf-press lock option available). You do, however, have exposurecompensation available in the menu ranging from -2.1 to +1.5 EV. Ifyou want the shadow areas to be lighter, use some + exposurecompensation (it's chosen in 1/3 EV steps, but you might start with+1 EV and vary it from there)..

Thanks againAlex..

Comment #7

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