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09-09-2010, 08:32 AM   #1
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Need tips for taking portraits with camera facing the sun

Hi, I am going to take a few portraits this saturday at a nearby lake. We are going to go around sunset so the sun will be pretty low, however I would like to get some portraits with the water and the sun in the background. I was wondering if anybody had any tips on shooting in this situation? A friend of mine hates her bridal photos so wants me to try and see if i can get any better ones.

I wont have a chance to get out there ahead of time and i'm afraid either her face will be underexposed, or the water/dress will be overexposed. The ones she has now were taken in the middle of the day and the dress and water are completely blown out.

I have a k-x with the 18-55 and 55-300 kit lenses as well as the A50 1.7, no external flashes or anything like that.

09-09-2010, 08:59 AM   #2
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What look do you want? if you want a natural look then I think you'll have to pick up a external flash to balance the light, the Bower 926P is fully automatic or has variable power levels, full integration with metering, a pretty good guide number, a built-in diffuser and bounce card and tilt/swivel/zoom for $100

if you want to do some artistic stuff like blowing out the light behind her or taking pictures into the sun (ouch, but it's been done before with wonderful results) then you might be able to just work with the available light, but it'll be hard
09-09-2010, 09:21 AM   #3
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It will be hard because the sun is so incredibly. Much brighter than any person you are taking a picture of, and that much more so if the person has the sun behind them and is therefore in shadow (hence the suggestion for fill flash to help balance this a little). Without flash, you have three choices. One is a decently exposed sky, sun itself still completely blown out, and subject practically a silhouette. The other is to have the person well exposed but the sky very overexposed and lacking in the drama you expect of a sunset picture - and the sun even more completely blown out. The third choice is to actually try not to overexpose the sun - which will render everything else in the picture completely black.

If you take the first option - well exposed sky - you can either use flash to get the person well exposed also, or try to brighten them in PP.
09-09-2010, 10:18 AM   #4
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If you are relatively close to the subject then the pop-up flash will help a little bit but like others have said it is really hard to get someone properly exposed with a sunlit background.

So your best bet is to buy an external flash (the one Future Retro suggested is a good beginner one) or to stand relavitely close to the subject and use the pop-up flash. If you use the pop-up flash be sure to use the proper exposure for the background (the flash will take care of the subject).

09-09-2010, 11:00 AM   #5
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You might get away with a pop up if you can get your hands on a decent size reflector. Reflected light might give a softer result than a lot of flash...?
Just an idea.
09-09-2010, 06:53 PM   #6
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If you have no flash other than the builtin one, there's another possibility: reflectors.

If you have a couple of friends who could help, simply get a couple of white posterboard sheets, like kids use for school projects. Then have your assistants stand beside you, holding the posterboard so that some of the sunlight is reflected back into the subject's face. They should stand as close to the subject as they can, without getting into the picture.

Experiment with having one on either side, or both of them on one side, then the other. You can create some interesting shadows (nothing too severe) that will give her face a little texture. Fill flash can be rather flat, if the flash is on top of the camera.
09-10-2010, 01:37 AM   #7
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That, or shoot film!

Here is one pic I've scanned recently... I was blown away by how much DR there was in this pic... (I've made no particular attempt to PP this shot apart from basic levels, but I can see the potential in this pic)



Never could my Kx take such a scene without blowing the sky or blocking the shadows...

We just forgot how good was film at capturing light...
09-13-2010, 06:54 AM   #8
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Thanks for the tip everyone, turns out I didnt need to use them at all, it ended up being very cloudy. So now I have a new task, trying to make the pictures a little less dull! The bride turned out great but you can definitely tell that everything else just looks a little gloomy. I'm working on them in Lightroom so we'll see if I can liven them up a little. Any tips would be appreciated! Thanks.

09-13-2010, 11:01 AM   #9
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Crop out as much of the sky as you can
09-14-2010, 05:39 AM   #10
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How much better is K-7 or K-r on this aspect?
- Or is using the HDR with auto align the "work-around" for such applications
09-14-2010, 06:05 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by JoepLX3 Quote
How much better is K-7 or K-r on this aspect?
- Or is using the HDR with auto align the "work-around" for such applications
Well, I'm afraid the K7 will be inferior to the Kx, as it has more noise, and DR is based on the noise levels...
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