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Subject: "Photographing people in the snow with fill-flash" Previous topic | Next topic
Kropotkin Registered since 02nd Dec 2012Fri 14-Dec-12 10:16 PM
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"Photographing people in the snow with fill-flash"


Bicester, GB
          

Hi

I have a gig coming up where I may have to photograph people standing next to an ice-rink. The ice-rink may have a covering of snow. In any event it will be pretty white.

So. I am expecting my subjects to be underexposed if the camera meters for the overall scene.

So; I am thinking of using fill-flash. I am wondering if TTL or TTL-BL would be best? I think TTL-BL as this is outside. Is this right? Does anyone have any tips/advice - things to watch out for for example?

Thanks

--Justin Wyllie

  

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Replies to this topic
Subject Author Message Date ID
Reply message RE: Photographing people in the snow with fill-flash
NenBikonian
15th Dec 2012
1
Reply message RE: Photographing people in the snow with fill-flash
Arkayem Moderator
15th Dec 2012
2
Reply message RE: Photographing people in the snow with fill-flash
Kropotkin
15th Dec 2012
3
     Reply message RE: Photographing people in the snow with fill-flash
Arkayem Moderator
15th Dec 2012
4
     Reply message RE: Photographing people in the snow with fill-flash
Kropotkin
15th Dec 2012
8
     Reply message RE: Photographing people in the snow with fill-flash
Chris Platt Silver Member
15th Dec 2012
5
          Reply message RE: Photographing people in the snow with fill-flash
Arkayem Moderator
15th Dec 2012
6
               Reply message RE: Photographing people in the snow with fill-flash
Chris Platt Silver Member
15th Dec 2012
7

NenBikonian Registered since 30th Sep 2011Sat 15-Dec-12 12:34 AM
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#1. "RE: Photographing people in the snow with fill-flash"
In response to Reply # 0


Roswell, US
          

Hi Justin,

I think I'd use manual exposure on the camera, find and set the proper exposure for the ice, then - using TTL mode - place the center of the frame on the person's face you are shooting and use FV Lock to set the proper flash exposure on their face. Then I'd reframe, focus and shoot.

Was that all just a bunch of greek to you or did you follow most of it?

Cheers,
Ben

Visit my Nikonians gallery.

  

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberSat 15-Dec-12 02:56 AM
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#2. "RE: Photographing people in the snow with fill-flash"
In response to Reply # 0


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>I have a gig coming up where I may have to photograph people
>standing next to an ice-rink. The ice-rink may have a covering
>of snow. In any event it will be pretty white.
>
>So. I am expecting my subjects to be underexposed if the
>camera meters for the overall scene.
>
>So; I am thinking of using fill-flash. I am wondering if TTL
>or TTL-BL would be best? I think TTL-BL as this is outside. Is
>this right? Does anyone have any tips/advice - things to watch
>out for for example?

If this is outdoors during daylight, TTL-BL works very well for adding fill as long as you put the camera in one of the Auto modes. I recommend P mode.

Then, both the flash and the camera will underexpose by several stops. So you have to compensate.

Use Camera EV to boost the exposure starting at about 2 stops. Increase or decrease to make the snow white.

Then, boost the Flash EC starting at about 2 stops. Increase or decrease to adjust the brightness of the subject's faces.

You may end up blowing out the snow, but that is only an indication that the scene is beyond the dynamic range of the camera and can't be helped. Blowing out snow often doesn't hurt the picture.

Russ
Retired Professional Photographer
Nikonian Moderator
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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Kropotkin Registered since 02nd Dec 2012Sat 15-Dec-12 10:02 AM
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#3. "RE: Photographing people in the snow with fill-flash"
In response to Reply # 2
Sat 15-Dec-12 10:20 AM by Kropotkin

Bicester, GB
          

Hi Russ

Thanks.

Could you explain a bit more? Why will the camera underexpose? Surely it will just expose for the overall scene and then add flash to brighten the subjects? ... I can just about understand that the overall scene will be underexposed as when I put the Flash on the camera exposure automatically drops by a stop or so but I can't see why the subjects would be underexposed.

Also, does TTL-BL not work in manual mode?

Thanks

--Justin

  

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberSat 15-Dec-12 01:51 PM
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#4. "RE: Photographing people in the snow with fill-flash"
In response to Reply # 3


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

>Could you explain a bit more? Why will the camera underexpose?
>Surely it will just expose for the overall scene and then add
>flash to brighten the subjects? ... I can just about
>understand that the overall scene will be underexposed as when
>I put the Flash on the camera exposure automatically drops by
>a stop or so but I can't see why the subjects would be
>underexposed.

This is a very complex issue.

The camera and flash are two separate metering systems. Both meter based on reflective principles, which means they try to expose for an overall color equivalent to 18% gray. This means that when you meter a scene that is very bright, like snow, the camera and flash will both think it is too bright, so they reduce it back to 18% gray. This will tend to turn the white snow to gray and the subjects will become very dark and the whole scene will be underexposed by a stop or two. Therefore you have to increase both the flash and the camera compensation to brighten the image to where the white objects (snow) is white again.

>Also, does TTL-BL not work in manual mode?

TTL-BL will work in any camera mode, but it assumes the camera meter is zeroed when it calculates the required flash power for fill. I recommend P mode, because it always zeros the meter instantly and prevents the overexposure problems of camera A mode due to the shutter speed restriction of flash sync speed.

Professional wedding photographers (the Nikon shooters) I worked with all used P mode whenever shooting fill flash. We joked that P mode must stand for Professional mode, since it seems that only professional photographers use it. P mode does exactly what TTL-BL needs.

Also, be careful not to use Auto ISO when shooting flash. It doesn't work well. Use fixed ISO 100 or 200 for outdoor fill flash.

Russ
Retired Professional Photographer
Nikonian Moderator
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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Kropotkin Registered since 02nd Dec 2012Sat 15-Dec-12 06:25 PM
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#8. "RE: Photographing people in the snow with fill-flash"
In response to Reply # 4


Bicester, GB
          

Hi Russ

OK. This is because the exposure system makes an assumption about 18% grey and nothing to do with TTL-BL specifically right? The snow is the problem. I think that is the main point for me.

However on the advanced problem... my understanding is something like this: the camera can measure the amount of light reflected from a scene. But it doesn't know anything about the surfaces doing the reflecting. So it has to make an assumption that all scenes are made up of 18% grey.

In the case of snow it gets a lot of light back but still makes the assumption that the scene is 18% grey. Therefore it thinks the scene is brighter than it is. (If 18% grey was reflecting that much light it would be really bright). So it underexposes.

The main thing then was that it is the snow that means I may have to add EV by one or two stops not something to do with TTL-BL.

I am interested in your comments about Program mode. I've never used it assuming it is for amateurs. Perhaps I should try.

Thanks

--Justin



  

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Chris Platt Silver Member Nikonian since 30th Sep 2012Sat 15-Dec-12 02:12 PM
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#5. "RE: Photographing people in the snow with fill-flash"
In response to Reply # 3
Sat 15-Dec-12 02:27 PM by Chris Platt

Newburg, US
          

All Russ said, however, I exercise caution in adding positive EV when photographing snow scenes with full matrix metering. I suspect that Nikon's scene recognition system is capable of recognizing a snow scene and attempts to compensate automatically. My experience has been that snow scenes are exposed pretty well without positive compensation when using matrix and that I usually only have to punch it up by about 1/3 EV in post to brighten it up. The matrix metering system tries to preserve highlight detail and not blow the scene out, which, I suspect, is why I still find I have to add about 1/3 EV.

Here is an example: white dog, white snow, so add some EV right? Not here. I added +1EV and it was the wrong answer: (apologies - no flash was used)



Ok, white dog, white snow, no positive EV added:



Lets punch it up with 1/3 EV in post: (note that I'm already loosing highlight detail in the snow)



If you don't add enough EV at capture, you can certainly add it in post. However, if you add too much EV at capture, you won't be able to recover blown highlights in post.

If you're shooting manual or using spot metering, by all means add some EV at capture.

The good news is if you use TTL BL the flash is going to deliver a pretty good answer to the foreground either way.

Just my opinion - I haven't done a controlled test yet. I'm waiting for a snow storm, but considering the weather in my region lately, I may be wading around it what used to be the Greenland ice cap before I see another decent snow storm.

I recommend experimenting with both approaches and seeing what works best for you.

Visit my gallery.

  

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Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter MemberSat 15-Dec-12 04:01 PM
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#6. "RE: Photographing people in the snow with fill-flash"
In response to Reply # 5


Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
          

Hi Chris,

I'll admit that +2 ev is probably too much to add. I went back and looked at old images I have taken, and it is more like +1 ev.

The Nikon matrix metering doesn't recognize snow. When the image is more or less uniform across the frame, it sets the exposure for 18% gray on average. This is about 1ev underexposed for snow.

Matrix recognizes when the top portion of an image is brighter than the bottom, which it interprets as sky over ground. Then, it increases the exposure to get the ground closer to correct while letting the sky blow out.

Your example images are slightly beyond the dynamic range of your camera.

In your last image, the dog looks good but the snow is still mostly gray.

There is no way in such a scene to expose both the dog and the snow correctly. In pp you can selectively boost the brightness of specific areas to make it look right. This is a form of HDR processing.

Russ
Retired Professional Photographer
Nikonian Moderator
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

  

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Chris Platt Silver Member Nikonian since 30th Sep 2012Sat 15-Dec-12 04:02 PM
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#7. "RE: Photographing people in the snow with fill-flash"
In response to Reply # 6


Newburg, US
          

Russ,

Thanks for that explanation. Makes sense.

Visit my gallery.

  

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