To Flash… or Not To Flash

IMG_8385 copy … that is the critical question. Fleeting moments, it’s an instant call. You get one try… pick. It doesn’t come very often you get to shoot one with and one without flash. It’s a choice. Here David sat long enough for me to get two shots. The Canon G11 white balances automatically. Great! But it’s still ambient light you deal with. So it’s not quite right. The natural lighting gives less detail in the eyes and no gleam or catch light for the eye. Flash is a little too bright and a bit too artificial for my taste. I would pick the natural light. I’m not a fan of obsessive manipulation in Photoshop, so this is what it is.IMG_8384 copy

 

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Hurricane

 

Technical: Nikon D90, 1.200 sec, f4, focal length 18

Well you can at least tell that this is a stormy day. The lighting belies the storm. I didn’t check but presume you used fill flash as usual. This helps the exposure. But it takes away the gloomy mood of an impending storm. It’s another decision you make as to whether to get a good exposure or to play to the mood of the day. With all those colorful clothes this would not have been a shot to convert to black and white.

Cacti

 

Technical: Canon DSLR

Jennifer went to the zoo and sent me some early edits of her trip. It was the San Diego zoo. I’m a sucker for deep blue sky. The cactus in the foreground is the main subject. The shadows are a problem. Once again the bright background sky is too much for the foreground shadows. It’s otherwise a nice graphical image. And yes, that bright blue sky….

Kidding

Technical: Nikon D800, 1/60 sec, f4, focal length 75mm

Stewart sent me this image today. He’s got a spiffy D800. The lighting is evenly done with the help of flash. That’s his daughter, her fiancé, and best friend (my daughter). All grown up and about to be married, we have known these kids for a very long time. Nice to see that their sense of humor hasn’t changed so much. It’s good to have a camera around for a spontaneous moment. This is pretty tight quarters with a lot os distracting background. Decisions need to made about cropping and whether to keep the hands in the frame or to focus in on the faces. I like Stewart’s shot.

 

HDR & Normal

David shot this with a tripod and presents two exposures of the scene. I guess there is more detail in the normal image. I suppose that is better. There is more mood in the HDR. It’s a matter of taste. Shooting RAW also gives you options. It’s a problem to shoot indoors and aim at the outdoors. The window light will overwhelm the interior lights. And then there is the issue of mixed color balance in daylight and incandescent. You could use fill flash indoors to balance the light also. It’s nice to have options. Too many choices and I just go ahead and shoot. You can peek (chimp) at the LCD and then adjust. And, don’t miss the fact that a tripod was used to get these image exposures and registration.

Matilda too

Technical: Canon G11, 1/1600 sec, f4, focal length 6.1

Susan is still concerned about the exposure. It’s about backlighting. Since it’s not about the expression or the eyes, this exposure is fine. It even sets up the mood. Remember that technical excellence should not trump artistic license. Go with you gut. You got a good shot. I like the clouds above pointing in toward Matilda.

Matilda

Technical: Canon G11, 1/1250, f4, focal length 6.1mm

Susan sent this and asked, “What can I do to make the shot brighter?” Not a whole lot… It’s a backlit shot on a bright sunny day. The extreme in contrast from shadow to bright is hard to compensate and balance. So you do what you have done so successfully with the Nikon. Use fill flash. It can be turned-on on the Canon G11. Otherwise, I have no problem with the exposure. You weren’t really shooting the face and eyes. The vertical crop is great and the rule of thirds is in order. This is a mood shot. And there is so much more about endless summer days and thoughts than it is about the actual subject. I like this as it is.

Bubbles II

Technical: Nikon D90 1/60 sec, f5.3, focal length 105

Same settings… So I just got done talking about the focus on the eyes. Here two of the bubbles in the foreground are in pretty good focus. I guess that’s why Susan was concerned in her last shot. With the eyes closed, the expression is the main interest. Then, you look at the bubbles, which happen to be in focus. That’s fine. The eyes are closed, which usually means the image is a ‘discard.’ But here it’s part of the expression and part of the image. Good shot. Note that the flash will ‘freeze’ the motion blur of the moving bubbles. So, in fact the bubbles are sharply in focus. It’s a cute shot. The foreground flash is more dominant here.

Bubbles

Technical: Nikon D90 1/60 sec, f5.3, focal length 105

Susan wrote: Is this shot blurred?

Any shot of people [or grandchildren] usually should be focused on the eyes. So if that’s the first thing to check, no, the eyes are in focus and there are sharp catch lights. The bubbles are not quite in focus. But they are not the main interest. The shutter speed is 1/60 at dusk. The flash overpowers the otherwise blue shadows. With the flash firing on automatic the exposure is mainly from flash at about 1/4000 sec. The 1/60 shutter brings in some of the background light so the porch and yard can be seen. Otherwise the flash alone would make the background go black. Therefore the fill flash is supplementary. There is another flash option. That is called rear curtain sync or ‘dragging the shutter.’ It’s there in the flash options on your camera. It will expose for the scene and at the last moment fire the flash. This is another way to bring more ambient light and try to make the picture more natural looking. I always forget to experiment with this option. But if you try it, this might be a good trick to remember sometime.

Sunset

Technical: No metadata

Maine, grandkids, sunset, and bubbles – what is there that one could possibly criticize? Susan asked whether there is anything that can be done about the lighting? Well, basically you have two light sources. Sunset red and flash blue light will definitely make a different colorcast in the foreground vs the background. It’s not objectionable. It’s not natural. But any other way to use natural light would make the grandkids too dark in the foreground. Personally I like this shot.