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This is where I always get in trouble

Hi Everyone 
This is a flash situation where I always get in trouble and was wondering the best way to handle it.
When I shooting an event in a dark room and its bright outside, what would be the best way to approach it.
Im using an Bounced on camera flash.
Because right know Ether I underexpose the subject (  un expectable )  or I blow out the back ground slightly more exceptable but not great .
Here is example  below ISO 3200 F3.2 at 1/100 Flash FEC +1.0 to expose for subject 

Thanks every one for there help. 


  • Based on what Neil has written, you either expose for ambient or you expose for subject.  You can't get both in one shot due to the extreme differences in brightness.

    1) Expose for ambient: Subject is underexposed requiring FEC compensation.  Some window detail is preserved.  (If it is really bright, you might still not get much detail.)
    2) Expose for subject: Windows are blown out.  Ask yourself if detail in the windows is truly important.  It looks like the person is more important here.

    Also, your photo seems to have a bluish cast.  You need some white balance adjustment post processing.
  • Hi Stephen 
    Im not really concerned about having details in window , my concern is the about of flare on subject , but I did a little research my self , I could have taken the SS to 1/200 -1/250 to get the ambient  down a bit  and used the flash on manual , since the roof was dark and they were back lite. Then Prey alot Ha Ha 

    Lou Recine 
  • TrevTrev Moderator

    You are using Nikon's, so immediately I would go to 1/250th, the ISO seems pretty high?

    1600 I would have chosen, then because you are shooting against backlight, the Flash in iTTL would have said, enough, no more light is needed.

    Now here is where you could have also helped that flash out further.

    Being Nikon, camera body in Manual, put on the Camera's Exposure Compensation to +3.0, then crank up the Flash Exposure Compensation also to +3.0, instead of just the +1.0 you used, (2 stops less you had to play with), thereby when adding the CEC (only in manual mode) + the FEC compensation, will give your flash more power to work with.

    100th on Shutter up to 250th, is just over 1 stop of ambient less coming in for background, therefore the flash compensation combined with the camera compensation will give you a much better working starting point.

    Then, if your subject is still under, swap out the Flash to manual mode, and crank it up, but when you are in that, the camera body's exposure compensation will have NO effect on flash power as that's in a set manual setting.

    Failing that, you need to maybe get a small portable external flash, something quick, even another Speedlight, on a small stand to help boost the flash needed, but I think you should have been able to get a much better result with the settings suggested above.

  • MatrixphotoMatrixphoto Member
    edited February 2018
    Hi Trev , Great to hear from you again , as usual thanks for the insight .But now it begs a question how many test shots do you do  , ( I know as many as needed  ) but if   Im  constantly testing I will miss a  lot of moments.  
    Is there a logical progression I should follow.  Do you test then shoot or adjust while you shoot , just curious .   

  • TrevTrev Moderator


    First, I set up the camera body in manual to how I want background more or less.

    Then I turn on Flash, test shoot it on anything before things get under way, and crank up the FEC, still no luck, I immediately crank up the Camera Body's Exposure Compensation to an automatic +3.0, as it's easier then to control what you want via the Flash's Exposure Compensation if too much.

    Remember, you need to change back to 0 on the body when finished shooting, otherwise you will be left wondering why your shots next time could be way over.

    Failing that, as I stated earlier, flash into manual mode.

    I will shoot and if over a bit, I don't care, in fact I want it like that since I control the exposure, especially the shadows during post.

    If your subject is dark, then you need to up the light power on the subject, recovering a 1-stop over-exposure is much healthier than recovering a 1-stop under-exposed subject.

    Lou, PM me mate, I would like that file you have above if you have it in RAW.


  • Lou -

    I think you can get both the background and the subject close to proper exposure in one shot. I run into this a lot at events. If the background is "pleasing" as Neil would say, I expose for the background, dial in either shutter of aperture to under-expose a bit, and then bounce flash for the subject. If you don't care about the background, then expose for the subject. If you are bouncing your flash, and the wall is close enough, I have found the flash does most of the work.

    And, don't for a second think I don't use the "highlight" slider in LR to bring the background in a bit if I screw up and over-expose it. Or the "shadow" slider for the subject if it is under-exposed. As I always say to myself, I want (wish!) to be a photographer, not a computer genius. But post processing certainly helps.

    The problem, as I run into many times, is when you try and do this at a fast-moving event and are trying to get good candid photos, it's difficult because it has to be quick. For candid photos, I scout around an event, and if I see/hear an interesting conversation or interaction, I will prep for getting the shot as I wait for the right moment/moments to pull the trigger.

    Hope that helps. With situations like this, I will freely admit it's easier said than done sometimes.

  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Same as Trev said. Your problem comes in that you allow too much (outside) ambient light in with your settings. Immediately go to max sync speed since doing so won't affect flash power, but you will drop the ambient by 1.3 stops. Then drop your ISO to 1600ISO .. that gets you another stop. And from there juggle the ISO & Aperture combination as you need. 
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited February 2018


    Received the Raw, edited version attached. (click image to view larger and clearer in browser)


  • TrevTrev Moderator


    I forgot to add what I did, since I was unable to get to computer for a few days due to bloody surgery on my foot.

    Anyhow, I dropped the exposure in raw by -1.54 stops, changed WB, took off all contrast/sharpening; did not use the Highlight Recovery, just exposure change.

    Then opened in PS, and ran my action to put contrast, sharpening back on.


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