Capturing a subject with the sun in the background

edited March 2012 Posted in » Canon T2i Forum
I was talking with a fellow T2i owner over on my Facebook page and she was wondering which settings and/or lens would be best for shooting a subject with the sun in the background. I thought it would be beneficial to share our conversation with all of you...

Lindsay's Question: I just got my Canon T2i and I am workin on refining my photography skills before my husband and I hike in Nepal this summer! I think the most difficult photography challenge I will face is photographing something with the sun or sunset in the background. Can you give me some tips about settings and/or lenses that best would capture say, a mountain in front of a sunset or a yak standing in front of the sun?

Moose's Answer: For these types of shooting situations, I highly recommend capturing images using the HDR process. HDR will allow you to properly expose both the bright sky and your subject (mountain or yak). HDR (short for High Dynamic Range) is a process where you take 3 to 5 photos of the same scene at varying levels of exposure (from bright to dark). You then take these photos and merge them using HDR software like Photomatix. If you don't use the HDR process, there's really nothing you can do to properly expose the scene. Rather, you'll have to choose whether to properly expose your subject or the bright sky. If you choose to expose the subject, the sky will be blown out (super bright or white). If you choose to expose the sky, then your subjects will be blacked out (silhouetted).

In regards to setting up your T2i for HDR, mount your T2i to a tripod and get a composition that you're happy with. Enable Aperture priority mode (Av) and select an aperture appropriate for your subject or scene. To get everything in focus, use an aperture f-number of f/11. To isolate your subject against a blurry background, use the lowest available f-number (this will be determined by your lens). Then use the +/- exposure compensation button and take a shot at -2, -1, 0, +1 and +2. At this point you should have 5 shots of the same scene ranging from dark to bright. When you get back to your computer, just run those five images through a program like Photomatix using the default settings and you'll have yourself a eye-popping HDR shot. :)
Sign In or Register to comment.