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Beach photoshoot

edited April 2015 Posted in » Nikon D5100 Forum
Hi Moose. A friend of mine has kindly nominated to help me with practicing taking family photos at a beach setting for her and her 10 year old son. I would love to hear some tips from you about settings for my Nikon D5100. I have the 55mm kit lens and also the 55-200mm Nikon lens to work with. Are there any filters you would recommend I use also? I plan to shoot in the afternoon around rock pools and on the beach with maybe some islands in the far distance. My friend had also mentioned wanting a picture with the sunset in the background, but I wasn't sure if this would even be possible because all the sunset pictures I take the foreground is dark. Any tips you have would be greatly appreciated, I have your cheat sheets which have really helped me produce better quality pictures. Thank you, Skye


  • edited April 2015
    Your main exposure problem at the beach will be the relative brightness of the background, which will trick the meter into making the subject too dark. If possible, experiment a little in advance, but for beach and snow shots in which the subject is not the beach or snow itself, your best bet is probably to overexpose by one to two stops over what the matrix meter recommends.

    If you're shooting a person or an animal in a bright overall environment another possible dodge is to switch metering modes. Center weighted averaging will bias your meter heavily toward about a 30 percent area in the middle of the frame. Spot metering will measure only a small area corresponding to your focus point, and ignore the rest.

    Be careful with people when the sun is high overhead, because the shadowing will tend to cause "raccoon eyes". Fill flash can help here if the subject is close enough.

    For sunsets without any extra filtering, you will generally have some issue with light and dark no matter what you do. You can expand dynamic range a little by making sure "active D-lighting" is on, or you can use the View NX2 program on Raw files to open up shadows some. Not all programs other than the Nikon ones read Active D lighting correctly, so if you are using Lightroom or others, experiment to see if it helps.

    You can buy a graduated ND filter which will darken the upper half of a picture, but with the kit lenses whose front element rotates, you can't use these easily, and only with manual focus, since even a slight AF adjustment will rotate the filter.

    Otherwise though, one solution to the problem is to try to figure out composition so that the silhouetted foreground and contrast make visual sense. Try to find ways in which the light and shadow themselves constitute the content of the picture.
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