Exposing when the subject is both dark and white?

kat.hayes

EOS T7i
Nov 25, 2014
76
0
When shooting with the subject being a fair skinned person and a dog with dark fur taking up most of the frame, how do you properly meter/expose the image?

What about when using a flash? what is the best approach to handling FEC when in either a low light or fill situation?

Is bracketing my only good option and use photoshop to merge the two exposed images?

Thanks.
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
Mar 25, 2011
15,530
756
Shoot to expose the bright areas correctly, in raw, they can be overexposed a little. Then adjust shadows and highlights / whites to bring tones into the range you like.

Stacking multiple images with different exposures in photoshop will give better results. The advantage of a higher DR sensor is that it allows you to boost the dark areas more without them showing excessive noise, but even with a high DR sensor, you need to do the adjustments.
 

AlanF

Canon 5DSR II
Aug 16, 2012
5,758
3,112
Mt Spokane Photography said:
Shoot to expose the bright areas correctly, in raw, they can be overexposed a little. Then adjust shadows and highlights / whites to bring tones into the range you like.

Stacking multiple images with different exposures in photoshop will give better results. The advantage of a higher DR sensor is that it allows you to boost the dark areas more without them showing excessive noise, but even with a high DR sensor, you need to do the adjustments.
+1
Also use iso 100 or 160 where DR is greatest for most Canon models.
 

Mikehit

EOS 5D MK IV
Jul 28, 2015
3,227
416
Blown highlights always lose data. Blown dark areas have the data there, but run into problems with noise. So as said above, push the exposure of the highlights as far as you dare and then recover dark areas in processing. Having said that you would be surprised how bright and reflective a glossy dog's coat can be on the highlights. I always allow small areas of blinkies when looking at the subject on the camera but if those are on critical areas of a face (forehead, nose) you need to be really careful.

You can help it by avoiding bright or direct light if possible - if you can, move into the shade but if it is a cloudy day you are in luck. A single scene of white to black is within the range of nearly all cameras and the problem comes when the fair skin also gets direct light creating reflections and a bit of 'glare'.

Flash may help with the shadows but the basic problem remains if you use flash to illuminate the whole of the scene.
 

old-pr-pix

EOS RP
Dec 26, 2011
392
45
This is where knowing your gear helps. Understand how far you can push exposure to the right without losing data. Situations like OP describes are where I miss the old Canon T-90. It had a meter mode that allowed you to take up to 9 spot readings. The camera displayed all the readings and calculated a running average. That way it was easy to see the DR of the subject and decide how to expose. I'm not aware of such an exposure mode in any other camera. Likely too few people used it. I guess the improvements in evaluative metering are supposed to handle all that for you; yet I find myself using EC much of the time.
 

LDS

EOR R
Sep 14, 2012
1,580
152
Mikehit said:
Having said that you would be surprised how bright and reflective a glossy dog's coat can be on the highlights.
You can use it at your own advantage. Some dark surfaces may have very little diffuse reflection (otherwise, they won't look dark), but may still have enough direct reflection which can be used to lower the DR of an image with proper lighting, and show enough detail in the dark areas.

old-pr-pix said:
Situations like OP describes are where I miss the old Canon T-90. It had a meter mode that allowed you to take up to 9 spot readings.
Don't the 1Dx and 7D II have something alike? For some reasons the still expensive 5D is deemed not worth of it.

Anyway in complex situations, if time and subject allow, I still prefer an external meter.
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
7,931
1,089
119
old-pr-pix said:
This is where knowing your gear helps. Understand how far you can push exposure to the right without losing data. Situations like OP describes are where I miss the old Canon T-90. It had a meter mode that allowed you to take up to 9 spot readings. The camera displayed all the readings and calculated a running average. That way it was easy to see the DR of the subject and decide how to expose. I'm not aware of such an exposure mode in any other camera. Likely too few people used it. I guess the improvements in evaluative metering are supposed to handle all that for you; yet I find myself using EC much of the time.
The 1 series still have that feature, and always have.
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
7,931
1,089
119
In answer to the OP. Manual mode. Use a grey card and get your exposure set then leave it at that, everything will be within exposure.

When using flash I do the same thing, set the camera in Manual and get my ambient exposure where I want it, then set the flash in Manual and get that exposure where I want it. Done.

Doing the the camera will not keep changing exposure as the dog/person relationship changes within the frame.

It should take no more than three exposures to get your ambient tiled in, then another two to get your flash exposure dialed in, set it and forget it.
 

YuengLinger

EOS 5D MK IV
Dec 20, 2012
2,602
699
Southeastern USA
Neil Van Niekerk is a very good photographer, and a great teacher.

This is one of the most helpful short tutorials I've ever read:

https://neilvn.com/tangents/using-the-histogram-to-determine-exposure/
 

Hector1970

EOS 6D MK II
Mar 22, 2012
1,094
272
Buy a Sony or Nikon (higher dynamic range :eek: )

Seriously blown highlights I hate most so I'd meter to ensure no blown highlight. On balance I'd take the hit on the darks. I'd make sure the human face is correct. A grey card can help.
 

Besisika

How can you stand out, if you do like evrybdy else
Mar 25, 2014
638
26
Montreal
To me, your question is too vague.
The answers depend on the lighting.
Generally speaking, using a flash is my first approach as it allows me to bring up the shadows, thus reducing the dynamic range needed to get the photo well exposed.

If your subject is moving then forget about bracketing. If you are in a running gun situation then forget about correct exposure. If the sun is in and out then forget about getting correct ambient exposure. No camera can get enough dynamic range at all times and too many variables may exist any time that it is difficult to come up with a unique all mighty solution.
Under these circumstances (if you don't want or can't use strobe), approach it like the majority of natural light senior portrait photographers out there and expose for the most important subject of your photo. If it is the dog then make sure you can have all of its detail in post, if it is the human then expose for him/her, if it is the clothing then that is your target.
Too much theories sometimes cloud your judgement. Focus on the subject of your photography and make sure you get that part right, if you can get the rest then congratulation.
A simple example is backlight when a bride and groom enters a church door at mid-day sun. The only solution that makes sense to me is to expose for the bride. The rest matters much less.
Back to FEC, I use TTL with strobe (AD600) a lot and my approach is not to get the correct exposure during the shot (you waste model's time with your technicality). I expose ambient light properly (depending on the mood of the final result) and use flash to bring up the shadows (reducing dynamic range) or to make my subject standing out. I fix the rest in post.
 

old-pr-pix

EOS RP
Dec 26, 2011
392
45
LDS said:
old-pr-pix said:
Situations like OP describes are where I miss the old Canon T-90. It had a meter mode that allowed you to take up to 9 spot readings.
Don't the 1Dx and 7D II have something alike? For some reasons the still expensive 5D is deemed not worth of it.
privatebydesign said:
The 1 series still have that feature, and always have.
Didn't realize that... have only shot w/borrowed 1Dx a few times and didn't learn all features... just way too heavy for me. AFAIK 7DII doesn't have such a feature does it - can't find it in the manual?
 

Zeidora

EOS 7D MK II
Feb 15, 2015
668
10
Besisika said:
To me, your question is too vague.
The answers depend on the lighting.
Generally speaking, using a flash is my first approach as it allows me to bring up the shadows, thus reducing the dynamic range needed to get the photo well exposed.

If your subject is moving then forget about bracketing. If you are in a running gun situation then forget about correct exposure. If the sun is in and out then forget about getting correct ambient exposure. No camera can get enough dynamic range at all times and too many variables may exist any time that it is difficult to come up with a unique all mighty solution.
Under these circumstances (if you don't want or can't use strobe), approach it like the majority of natural light senior portrait photographers out there and expose for the most important subject of your photo. If it is the dog then make sure you can have all of its detail in post, if it is the human then expose for him/her, if it is the clothing then that is your target.
Too much theories sometimes cloud your judgement. Focus on the subject of your photography and make sure you get that part right, if you can get the rest then congratulation.
A simple example is backlight when a bride and groom enters a church door at mid-day sun. The only solution that makes sense to me is to expose for the bride. The rest matters much less.
Back to FEC, I use TTL with strobe (AD600) a lot and my approach is not to get the correct exposure during the shot (you waste model's time with your technicality). I expose ambient light properly (depending on the mood of the final result) and use flash to bring up the shadows (reducing dynamic range) or to make my subject standing out. I fix the rest in post.
+1 This has much more to do with lighting than subject contrast. Fair skinned person is far away from glistening snow. Have a read through Hunter & Fuqua (Light: science and magic) on object and lighting contrast and how they interact.
 

AlanF

Canon 5DSR II
Aug 16, 2012
5,758
3,112
The best one-click fix in Photoshop is Shadows and Highlights - use it as recommend by Mt Spokane.
 

mb66energy

EOS 6D MK II
Dec 18, 2011
1,294
200
Germany
www.MichaelBockhorst.de
(1) Use the histogram of your camera to decide exposure with the lighting you want to use:
Make a slightly underexposed image where you have no blown highlights and check the right side of the histogram.
Increase the exposure to shift the histogram data to the right without blowing out highlights.
(2) If the dog is to dark / to noisy after lifting shadows:
Think about a lighting setup with a diffuse light source near the dog (receives lots of light) and place the person
to the opposite side - twice the distance means a quarter of light per area resulting in -2 EV difference.

That's just theory - happy experimenting!
 
P

Pookie

Guest
And this is why an incident meter is still used by the best photographers in the world to this very day. I love hearing about all these types of exposure issues from newbies. Why did my camera do this, why is this all dark or this is all blown out? Asked if they metered? Followed by meter?!?! yea, my camera is set to spot or evaluative or point... then looking incredulous as to why you would ever need a handheld meter in the modern age. A reflective meter can always lie or get confused... a incident never does and will save you tons of headaches.
 

mb66energy

EOS 6D MK II
Dec 18, 2011
1,294
200
Germany
www.MichaelBockhorst.de
Pookie said:
And this is why an incident meter is still used by the best photographers in the world to this very day. I love hearing about all these types of exposure issues from newbies. Why did my camera do this, why is this all dark or this is all blown out? Asked if they metered? Followed by meter?!?! yea, my camera is set to spot or evaluative or point... then looking incredulous as to why you would ever need a handheld meter in the modern age. A reflective meter can always lie or get confused... a incident never does and will save you tons of headaches.
Good hint - if an incident meter isn't available spot or selective metering on a gray card is another method to evaluate exposure in complicated cases - perhaps model and dog each hold one card in front of their faces to check lightning / exposure :) The gray card has to fill the sensitive area of the exposure meter geometry!
The gray card has to reflect 18% of incident light because that is assumed as standard motive by the built in camera light meter. Using a medium gray paper sheet might be sufficient - check if it has roughly 2.5 EV higher exposure than a white paper (85-90 % reflectivity). Maybe printing a gray card is possible until a gray card arrives from some supplier?!
Here a good explanatory text http://www.benjohnstonphotography.com/understand/greycard/greycard.html - this guy uses the same method without gray card: "used" asphalt / bitumen road surfaces!