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shadows
Im a rank beginner with photography. Im using all "auto" settings on my nikon D80. Most of my shots are of my son's soccer games, outdoors, reasonably good lighting..

I took a group photo that has much larger shadows across the faces than I remembered there were on the actual subjects. Also, I took a recent photo of 3 people under an awning, and the faces were much darker, in the shadows, than I'd remembered..

Can someone point me to where I can research what Im doing wrong? Im about 1/3 of the way through the manual, but don't understand when to use the various settings, and not sure exactly what to do with "white balance"..

Thanks for your patience!(Throughout all, some of the photos are coming out OK)..

Comments (6)

The first issue you are facing - in terms of the shadows being "darker than you expected" is that your eye has a much greater capacity for dynamic range (the difference between the brightest and darkest parts of a scene) than your camera. So when you are looking at the scene your brain / eye quietly compensates to give you a pretty even view. Your camera, on the other hand, cannot give you as good a coverage. The result, depending on your exposure settings, will be either.

(a) perfect exposure of the shaded areas, with blown out highlights in the sky or other bright areas, or(b) the reverse - muddy shadows and reasonably exposed highlights(or something in between).

Now there's no simple answer to all of this, but the first thing is:.

Get yourself out of Auto mode and take more control. At a minimum, use centre weighted or even spot metering to make sure you are exposing for the faces and not the scene as a whole. Experiment a lot and you will learn to judge what mode is appropriate for what scene..

Using the right metering mode often won't fix the problem in every situation, sometimes you will also need to dial in exposure compensation or use Manual mode to deliberately over- or under-expose beyond what the camera wants to give you..

But take it step at a time - learn to use the Program exposure mode (and then move on to Shutter, Aperture and Manual modes) with the different metering modes. Then move on to exposure compensation and deliberate over-or under-exposure. Learn one thing at a time and it'll be easier to put them all together at the end. Try everything at once and you'll have a hard time keeping track of what is going on..

Take one of the scenes you're having trouble with, and shoot it in Program mode with the three metering modes (Matrix, Centre Weight, Spot). Compare the results. And so on..

Now, after all this, you will hopefully be able to achieve ideal or at least better exposure of the shadow areas. But you'll then probably have overexposed highlights. But, (a) you can't have your cake and eat it, too and (b) to start with, I'm sure you'll be happier with well exposed faces in shade..

White Balance? That's a whole different matter and it doesn't seem to be the main issue you are facing, from what you describe. Get the exposure right first, and that will follow. Auto White Balance will do a good enough job in most situations although admittedly when there's a big dynamic range such as you describe, it may not be perfect. But one thing at a time..

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window..

Comment #1

If the lighting is very contrasty, typical of a football scene at this type of year try a fill in flash. Will lighten up thos shadows a treat.Jules.

Mikelondon wrote:.

Im a rank beginner with photography. Im using all "auto" settings onmy nikon D80. Most of my shots are of my son's soccer games,outdoors, reasonably good lighting..

I took a group photo that has much larger shadows across the facesthan I remembered there were on the actual subjects. Also, I took arecent photo of 3 people under an awning, and the faces were muchdarker, in the shadows, than I'd remembered..

Can someone point me to where I can research what Im doing wrong? Imabout 1/3 of the way through the manual, but don't understand when touse the various settings, and not sure exactly what to do with "whitebalance"..

Thanks for your patience!(Throughout all, some of the photos are coming out OK).

Why do you never see birds crash?..

Comment #2

Mikelondon wrote:.

I took a group photo that has much larger shadows across the facesthan I remembered there were on the actual subjects. Also, I took arecent photo of 3 people under an awning, and the faces were muchdarker, in the shadows, than I'd remembered..

Yes. Our eyes can fool us because they are so good at accommodating wide contrast ranges... They scan the subject with multiple "takes", each automatically adjusted for local brightness... and all this without you really noticing it happening!! It is our brains that perform the task of adding the different views together into a composite.... which is the field of view as we REMEMBERED it....

[In fairness to the camera... it's "recollections" are the more accurate ones, in terms of real light levels!!].

Try "squinting" through half closed eyes as you view the scene. This reduces the ability to see into shadows and simulates the reduction in recorded brightness range typical of photography, (film and digital). By this simple means we can get a much better idea of how the camera will see the relative tones and contrasts..

It gets better.......

After practice you will start to spot the likely conditions for problems, and do it without having to do the squinting.Regards,Baz..

Comment #3

You got some good answers, but I'm not sure from your verbal descriptions if DR accounts for all of the problems you are having..

Can you post one of those pix?.

Charlie DavisNikon 5700 & Sony R1HomePage: http://www.1derful.infoBridge Blog: http://www.here-ugo.com/BridgeBlog/..

Comment #4

Use spot meter when shoting at high contrasty situations and make sure AF point is on most important spot (face). At this setting camera should meter from this point. True is other areas image could be badly overexposed..

If you subjects are close, use camera Flash to fill the shades..

Use RAW, raw converter willl help to bring detail out of shade during postprocessing. It's as easy as moving slider in the program..

Http://www.stan-pustylnik.smugmug.com..

Comment #5

Flip to the part of the manual that talks about exposure metering patterns..

"Matrix" will be one word, Spot metering may be another. You may see "Center-weighted.".

Pause.... I don't have a D80, but I got a D80 brochure on Friday and now I've found it..

Look on the top of your camera, just slighlty behind and to the right (as you point the camera toward the subject) FOR A LITTLE BUTTON with some segments printed on it..

This manages the metering pattern (matrix, etc.).

You can set your camera so that the meter reads the area under the awning, instead of the whole frame, and that will mean the people under the frame will be properly exposed..

You'll learn lots from this part of the manual, and then you should go do some experimenting..

BAK..

Comment #6

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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