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Old Oct 29, 2008, 3:21 PM   #1
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Hi, I'm new to photography. Having fun with my new Canon A20IS, but am having trouble getting good results when there is a bright sky, but the subject is darker...such as shooting in a slot canyon on a sunny day, but the light in the canyon is not so great...shot comes out completely dark for canyon area. Or similarly, a shot of people not in the direct sun, but on a sunny day...they come out as silhouettes. How do I set the camera to compensate? Thanks, Deborah
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Old Oct 29, 2008, 3:41 PM   #2
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The general answer for people photos is to use fill flash (turn the flash mode to always flash). The pro answer is to set up a reflector.

With a P&S camera there may be no way around the canyon problem except to recompose to either minimize the dark area or the bright area. The alternate to that solution is to take multiple photos with the identical framing but varying the exposure from one that encompasses the dark area to one the encompasses the light area and then combining the exposure through post processing methods such as HDR.

A. C.
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Old Oct 29, 2008, 6:02 PM   #3
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For HDR you need a tripod or at least a camera with a fast burst that will bracket for you. You probably want something more simple.

Almost all cameras can be set on spot metering. When you half-press the shutter it will hold that exposure so you can recompose the photo. Keep in mind that if you use spot metering to expose for the inside of the canyon the parts being hit by the sun will be burned out so they don't look very good. That is due to the limited dynamic range of the sensor.

Some non-DSLR cameras have a function you can set that simulates a mild application of Shadow/Highlight in Photoshop. It exposes the highlights properly and brings out the shadows a little. I have a Panasonic with that feature but it is very understated compared to other brands. Every brand has a different name for the feature, so you just have to go through your manual to see if you have the feature.

I almost always shoot people outdoors with fill flash if they are within range. It helps a lot with the problem you describe. Some cameras have a backlight adjustment, but the flash works a lot better if the person is within flash range.

For the canyon shot I would expose for the highlights and try to bring out the shadows in post processing. Once you burn out the highlights they are just gone, but you can usually bring out the shadows - albeit with some noise.

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