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Old Jan 12, 2004, 12:31 PM   #1
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Default Problems with photos under sunlight...big ones.

Ok I have the Canon a70, and yesterday I was in a country house, outdoors, with very bright sunlight, so I said "hey let's use this good light to take pictures".

I put the camera in Auto mode and took some pictures, and the sun always seemed to overwhelm the picture, making it too bright.

I tried lowering the exposure for one picture, but the people came out darker, and the landscape in the back was very bright.

I really need some help like what Iso settings to use maybe? Or the correct exposure compensation, maybe it was my white balance? I dunno.

http://www.angelfire.com/al4/johnpanama/106_0690.JPG
http://www.angelfire.com/al4/johnpanama/107_0702.JPG
http://www.angelfire.com/al4/johnpanama/107_0708.JPG
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Old Jan 12, 2004, 1:30 PM   #2
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Back in the days of buying film, Kodak included a piece of paper that everyone threw away. On that piece of paper was some vital information and the key to your question. It's called the Sunny 16 rule. Basically, this rule says that for full sunlight, your exposure will be f/16 at the reciprocal of the ISO for a shutter speed (i.e. ISO = 100, shutter speed would be 1/100).

Exposure in automatic mode of a camera is a lot like gambling. You win some, you lose some.

Auto mode of the camera uses the algorythms put in by the camera maker to determine the best exposure it thinks you need. Unfortunately, that "best" exposure isn't always right. It is based on a neutral scene (neutral as defined by 18% gray tonality). If your scene is brighter or darker than neutral, the camera will attempt to make it neutral. Example, if you shoot a picture of a black cat against a black wall in auto, the camera will increase your exposure so that it is a gray cat against a gray wall. Conversely, if you shoot a snow scene, the camera will decrease your exposure to make the snow closer to neutral.

Scenes in nature aren't always neutral which is why the photographer needs to understand and evaluate the scene and make the correct compensations. There are many ways to do this, some easier than others.

One way is to meter off a neutral area and lock your exposure at that reading. Another would be to put your camera in manual and adjust your exposure up or down to accomodate for the scene based on the sunny f/16 rule and your perception of how far off the scene is from neutral.

One of the problems with camera meters is that they read reflected light and attempt to analyze that as 18% greytone. Depending on what type meter you have, you can be shooting with an overall averaging meter, a center weighted meter, a partial meter, or a spot meter. Knowing what your camera is trying to accomplish and how it is trying to accomplish that will help you immensely to get better photographs. If you rely totally on the camera to make all of your decisions, you get what you get and sometimes it's not what your eyes saw.
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Old Jan 12, 2004, 7:26 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ohenry
Back in the days of buying film...
buying what?
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Old Jan 12, 2004, 8:18 PM   #4
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Yes Brad...back in the days when you had to decide between VHS and Beta format, cassette or 8 track, manually change your TV channel to one of the 3 channels you received on your rabbit ears, and a McDonald's hamburger, medium coke and fries cost under a buck....in other words, before your time :lol:
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Old Jan 13, 2004, 1:17 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ohenry
Yes Brad...back in the days when you had to decide between VHS and Beta format, cassette or 8 track, manually change your TV channel to one of the 3 channels you received on your rabbit ears, and a McDonald's hamburger, medium coke and fries cost under a buck....in other words, before your time :lol:
When phones had rotary dials and wires, cars had carburetors, computers were in big rooms with glass walls, mothers drove station wagons, kids got spanked when they were bad, Russians were the enemy, men walked on the Moon, "made in Japan" was an insult, your Hi-Fi had a record player in it, and your TV picture was black and white.

-Steve
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Old Jan 13, 2004, 4:15 AM   #6
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nirvanajack... What you have been told is correct, auto exposure is done by a microchip without a brain and intelligence so sometimes it gets it wrong. Simply put, the system might determine that the largest and brightest part of your framed shot must be correctly exposed - so your sky and sun if you point the camera towards it (Never!!) will print right but everything else is dark.

The fundamental reason for this in digicams, and film to a lesser extent, is limited handling range of the camera for very bright and very dark parts, all at once in the same scene. Sometimes, you just have to accept that a less interesting part of a scene will be under or over exposed (dark or bright). For pictures of people on the beach on a bright day, the popular choice is often to over expose the sky background.

To learn about this, put your A70 into spot meter mode which I think it does, then point the little box in the viewfinder at light and dark parts and note the aperture and shutter speed variations. I'm afraid this is really basic photography stuff to read up on. The camera in auto mode will only choose one setting which is the compromise or AVERAGE it thinks is right for MOST parts of the scene.

If you're learning, then the way round this if you still need to shoot auto to get more experience, is to get close to subjects or use zoom and reduce the amount of bright sky background. Also explore the preset features of your camera like 'landscape' mode which may add exposure compensation, It's part of the learning excercise because the rules of photography haven't changed much -even with a microchip inside the camera. VOX
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Old Jan 13, 2004, 10:53 AM   #7
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thanks a lot guys! I'm really gonna try using the advice you gave me. There's still one thing I don't understand though:

Basically, this rule says that for full sunlight, your exposure will be f/16 at the reciprocal of the ISO for a shutter speed (i.e. ISO = 100, shutter speed would be 1/100).
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Old Jan 13, 2004, 2:27 PM   #8
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wow, sorry ohenry and steve for all tha pain and suffering you must have gone though, i can't imagin such a terrrible place in time
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Old Jan 13, 2004, 2:58 PM   #9
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This was a time when 8 track meant your were on edge of technology. Gas was also 22 cents a gallon and muscle cars were parked everywhere.
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Old Jan 13, 2004, 3:36 PM   #10
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Those were the days when the film came with instructions and a set of pretty pictures describing the weather conditions to help you set the f stop. Now with global warming, weather has changed a lot so who knows, a sunny day might have gone up a stop!

The point is, that such basic information still worked because film had a lot of LATITUDE for error, there was a lot of STRETCH in the chemical processing afterwards, and print sizes were pretty small to make film grain less obvious.

Whilst we all know that highlights can be blown out easy in digital, I've often taken a pic deliberately at high shutter to stop motion or in low light, knowing it would be under exposed, and been surprised how much STRETCH and noise tweaking you can do in post to bring a flat looking pic back to life.

So learning the 'digital darkroom' and its limits, is as important as driving the camera.

Nirvanajack.......Unfortunately I don't think they added the Histogram feature until the A80 (might be wrong?). If your camera has it, learn about it and use it. If it doesn't, download a copy of EXIFER to read your shot settings afterwards on each pic. and then look at the histogram in an editor - it's not perfect but gives a broad understanding of scene brightness and what the auto exposure might be doing. VOX
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