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Basic Exposure Settings by Tiberius47 Basic Exposure Settings by Tiberius47
There are several rules for determining a rough guide to exposure settings in photography. The ones I know of are based on the Sunny 16 rule. Itís hard to give guidelines for exact settings, because the exposure settings you use depend on the exact lighting situation, and that can change on a second by second basis. However, these are some tips for general exposure settings. Donít take these as gospel, use them as a starting point only, because they donít take into account any specific lighting conditions that may be present when you take your photo.

Also, if you've read my overview on shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings ([link]), you'll know that you can change one setting and compensate by changing another setting. This applies to the general settings in here - the Sunny 16 rule says that an exposure of 1/100 of a second at f16 with ISO 100 film will give nice results, so we can increase the shutter speed by a stop to 1/250 of a second and compensate by opening the aperture to f11 to get the same exposure.

Sunny 16
In bright sun, set the aperture to f16, and set the shutter speed to the reciprocal of the filmís ISO rating. (Reciprocal means to put the number on the bottom in a fraction, with a 1 on the top. An example, 5 becomes 1/5.) So, if your film speed is ISO 100, your shutter speed becomes 1/100 of a second. If the film speed is ISO 200, your shutter speed is 1/250 (because thereís no exact match for 1/200 of a second, we go with the closest match).

Cloudy 5.6
This works the same way as the Sunny 16 rule, except that the aperture is set at f5.6 instead of f16. Once again, the shutter speed should be the reciprocal of the film speed. This also works for open shade, backlit portraits with fill flash or a reflector, indoors with indirect sunlight or stained glass windows from the inside.

Dinner for 2
Another variant on the Sunny 16 rule, but this time, with the aperture set to f2. This will give acceptable results for skylines ten minutes or so after sunset, neon signs or early morning/early evening on heavy overcast days.

Fireworks
For fireworks, try a film speed of ISO100, with a shutter speed of 8 seconds and an aperture of f8. Digital cameras are particularly good for this, because you can check your results as you take the photos and make any adjustments as needed. A tripod is essential for this type of photography, due to the very long exposure time. Also, fireworks photography is often actually several exposures that are combined together to give plenty of fireworks in the image while avoiding any light glare from a single long exposure. Use manual mode for this situation, or the camera may try to expose for a dark sky instead of fore the bright burst of the fireworks. Remember, the actual burst lasts only a second or two. If you use program, Aperture or Shutter modes on your camera, the burst will be over by the time the camera meters off it. Also, set the lens to manual focus mode and set it to focus on infinite, or youíll lose the shot as the camera tries to focus on the brief burst of the fireworks.

Lightning
This is similar to fireworks photography, but is a bit trickier, because you arenít just dealing with the light from the lightning bolt, but also from the cloud that is being lit by the lightning. Try a ten second exposure on ISO100 film with the aperture at f5.6. Be warned, however, that there is no guarantee when a flash will occur, so the best way to get a good shot is to take photo after photo after photo. To get the shot of lightning in my gallery (The Storm #2 [link] ) took me about half an hour and 50 shots. A tripod is essential due to the long exposure time, a remote release (either cable or infrared remote) makes it much easier, and also set the camera to manual mode and the lens to manual focus for the same reasons described in the section on fireworks. Again, check your photos and adjust your exposure as required.

Traffic Streaks
To get those cool photos of the long streaks of car lights on a busy road in the evening, try an exposure of 8 seconds at f11 for ISO 100 film. Again, a tripod is essential, although you donít need to use manual mode, because the traffic lasts longer than the fireworks or lightning. I recommend you use shutter priority to ensure you get the long exposure required. These settings will also work for floodlit buildings, Christmas lights and candlelit close ups, although you obviously won't get the streaks.

Silky Waterfalls
To give waterfalls a soft flowing-silk look to them, you need to use a longer exposure. Set the camera to shutter priority mode, with a value of about half a second or so and then let the camera figure out the aperture. Youíll need to use a tripod due to the long exposure time. If the lighting conditions are bright, the smallest aperture may not be enough to give a proper exposure, and you could end up with an overexposed photo. If this is the case, try setting the ISO rating to a lower setting or you can use a neutral density filter or a polarising filter.

Portraits
I canít give any exposure settings for portraits, because portraits can be taken under any lighting conditions. However, some general advice is to use Aperture priority mode and set the aperture quite wide, around f2 of f3. This will make sure the background is nicely out of focus. If you are using a compact camera that doesnít have aperture mode, set the camera to portrait mode and this will make the camera keep the aperture as wide as possible. Also, focus on the eyes, as that is the first thing that people look at. The rest of the photo can be slightly soft, but if the eyes are sharp, it wonít matter quite as much. But if the eyes are soft, then the photo will be noticeably blurry. Itís a good idea to use the sharpening tool in Photoshop to give a click or two on each eye. If the face is filling the frame, try to place the eyes about a third of the eye down to create a pleasing balance. And finally, two notes about using flash in portraiture. First, if the flash is the main source of light, donít use direct flash on the camera. Either bounce the flash off a wall or ceiling, or move the flash off the camera. Secondly, if you are taking portraits outdoors on a sunny day, use the flash. Itís counterintuitive to use flash when itís so bright, I know, but the harsh sunlight can create deep shadows, particularly if the person is wearing a hat. Using the flash can fill in the shadows, so focus on the eyes, expose for the sunlit parts of the personís face, and use the fill flash to bring detail back into the shadows.

Landscapes
In landscapes, depth of field is important, just as in portraiture, but for the opposite reason. In portraits, depth of field is used to ensure the background is out of focus to create a pleasing backdrop, but in landscapes, the depth of field needs to be as wide as possible to make sure that objects in the far distance (such as mountains) are just as clear as objects closer to the camera. Set your camera to Aperture priority, and use a narrow aperture, about f16 or f22. And use a tripod. Youíll never see a professional photographer take a landscape without a tripod. Sharpness is essential. A handy accessory is a graduated ND (Neutral density) filter. This is grey on the top, but fades down to clear at the bottom. Too often the sky is much brighter, so if you expose for the sky, the land will be under exposed, but exposing for the land gives you a pale, washed out sky. A graduated neutral density filter helps to fix the problem that is often faced when the sky and land are of different brightnesses.
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:iconshreya59:
shreya59 Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2012
Thanks so much for the information. .Been looking for simple explanation of basic setting for a long time now.. This really helps..
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
:)
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:iconfdy89:
fdy89 Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
thank you...
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:iconteradatum:
teradatum Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for taling the time to share your knowledge with us/me.
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:iconchikamegumi:
ChikaMegumi Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2011
Thank you again.
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:iconandreabax11:
andreabax11 Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011
do you know how to make a photography at night that looks like day?
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
Yeah. Put the camera on a tripod and use a long exposure. This works better in some situations than in others. For example, if you do it in a city, it won't work too well because you have lights that will blow out, and moving traffic will leave lots of light streaks.

But if it is a landscape out in the middle of nowhere, this technique will work much better. If there are clouds blowing across, then they might be streaky, and you'll be able to see stars in the blue sky, but in every other sense it will look like daytime. The colour of moonlight is exactly the same as that of sunlight, so you don't even need to worry about white balance.
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:iconowenb1981:
owenb1981 Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2010
hiya hope you might be able to help......i have a nikon d50 i have just set up a small area at hope to take portait i have tried many backgrounds and the big problem i keep getting is really bad shadows on the background when i put into photoshop all you see is a complete shadow of the object or the person and im not sure if its settings on camera or how my set up is........its becoming a prob now as i cant seem to find the answer to get rid of these shawdows hope you can help thanks.
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
There are a few ways around this. The first is to raise the flash so that the shadows fall lower than the subject. This can help to minimise them.

The second is to have a flash that lights the background alone. That way you can overexpose it a stop or so and it will go completely white (if it's a white or grey backdrop, of course).

The second is to move your subject and flash away from the background. This works because light falls off pretty rapidly with distance (if you double the distance between the light and whatever the light is hitting, you need four times as much light to make it look the same). Increasing the distance between the flash and the background means that by the time the light from the flash reaches the background, it is less intense, so the contrast between shadow and light will be lower.

probably the best solution would be to increase the distance, and adjust your exposure so that the background is under-exposed. Then you can add a background light to bring the background to the brightness that you want, and it should also remove any shadows.
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:iconmetalneko:
MetalNeko Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for this. I appreciate it.
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:iconstefmixo:
stefmixo Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2010  Professional Photographer
This is just SOOOO irrelevant, how can you tell things like this ? Sunny 16 ? If I want to shoot a portrait in the sun, I use max zoom, lowest F (5.6 for MY lens), 100 iso and 1/1200s for ex, because "I" want small DOF, or go the opposite way for bigger DOF for landscapes etc ... I took pics at F10 (or more) at night (with 30s exp) ... it all depends on what is your goal. These arbitrary rules just don't make ANY sense.
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
Perhaps you missed the second paragraph where I explain how you can adjust one setting and then adjust the second setting to compensate. What I explain here is how to get a particular exposure, not what settings you MUST use.

Your example of shooting portraits in bright sun says 1/1200 at f5.6 and 100 ISO. This lets in the same amoutn of light as the settings I suggest in this tutorial.

So how can you say it's irrelevant when you are using the same thing?
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:iconstefmixo:
stefmixo Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2010  Professional Photographer
All I say is : what's the point in saying "You must do THIS, but you can also do SMTH ELSE if you want" ... changing F changes the amount of DOF, changing ISO changes the amount of noise, changing speed changes the amount of blur (on moving objects), theres NO point in saying to someone "use THIS setting", it depends on what's the photog's goal.

My example settings(1/1200, 5.6...) might let AS MUCH light as yours, but the result will be totally different in terms of noise and blurry bgd. MY example was for MY idea of portraits, but will not do for landscapes. But again, if you want a secial effect, you can do a landscape with a blurred bgd ..."it depends on what's the photog's goal."
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
And if you bothered to read what I actually wrote, you'd have seen that the settings I suggest give you the overall exposure. Then you can open up your aperture by three stops and close your shuytter by three stops to adjust your depth of field while keeping that same exposure. What I have done here is provide some easy to remember starting points, that's all. I'm NOT saying that this is the only way to do it, neither am I saying that this is the best way to do it. I'm just saying, "This is a starting point that is easy to remember." I'm trying to make photography SIMPLE.

You just haven't read what I wrote. It's all there IN THE SECOND PARAGRAPH!
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:iconstefmixo:
stefmixo Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2010  Professional Photographer
Oh, ok then, this is how I understood it. I can speak (quite good) english, but I'm french, that's why I probably have missed something when I read it. :-)
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
No worries.
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:icontherealjynxed:
TheRealJynxed Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2010
Thanks for the tips :)
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:icongodingphotography:
godingphotography Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2009
So what graduated ND filter would you suggest to start out with? I don't do a lot of landscape photography, probably because of the contrasts and it sounds like this would be a tool worth having. I have been reading around and folks say not to get a screw on, but I'd have to learn about the other way of doing it if I was to use something else...which isn't a problem. Most say that getting a 2 stop soft is the best all around. What do you think?

Seems hard to find a graduated ND for a 58mm lens lol.

Been reading through your tutorials and they are so very helpful!
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
There are two kinds of ND grads - screw in filters and slide in filters.

Don't get the screw in type. With them you are stuck with the edge between the light and dark parts right across the middle. Vary rarely would you compose your photo to have the horizon right across the middle.

Much better is the slot in style of ND grad filter. This consists of an adapter ring that screws onto the front of your lens, then a holder that attaches to the ring. The filters themselves are simple sheeets of glass or resin that slide into the holder. The benefit of this type of ND grad filter is that you can raise and lower the grads so the transition can sit over the horizon wherever it is in the frame.

Another benefit of this style of filter is that you can actually stack the filters. When you buy it, it usually comes in a set, with a one stop, two stop and three stop filter. This lets you stack two filters (or three, but this increases the chance of vignetting) to get the right amount.

A third benefit is that once you buy the filter set, you can use it on any lens you own. The only extra thing you need to buy is the adapter ring for each lens. The holder and filters are deigned to work with the most common lens diameters.

Both Lee and Cokin filters have sets like this, and the set up is not too expensive.

To use the filters, put your camera in manual mode. Set the aperture to something around f8 (the exact setting doesn't really matter). Take a reading off the sky, and set the shutter speed to give what the camera thinks is a good exposure for the sky. You might end up with, say, 1/500 seconds at f8.

Then do the same thing for the ground. You might end up with 1/60 seconds at f8 for the ground.

That's a difference of 3 stops between the exposures (A stop is halving or doubling, so you halve the 1/500 once to get 1/250, then halve a second time to get 1/125, then halve a third time to get 1/60, making three halvings, or three stops).

So put in a two stop filter (the three stop filter will make the sky the same brightness as the ground, which can look kinda weird. Leaving the sky a little bit brighter than the ground often looks better, so I prefer to leave the sky a stop brighter). You can then rotate the holder and slide the filter to get the transition right over the horizon. Then it's just a matter of taking the photo. This is much easier with a tripod, because onceyou get the image composed, you can lock the tripod into place and concentrate on the filters.
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:icontime4raiding:
Time4Raiding Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I use a digital camera would i need to go out and buy a dslr, compact or slr camera to do all this
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
Any camera that gives you control over the aperture and shutter speed will let you use this. Have a look at your mode dial. If it has P, A, S and M (or P, Av, Tv and M), then you are set to go. :)
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:icontime4raiding:
Time4Raiding Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
thanks
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:iconongandy86:
ongandy86 Featured By Owner May 14, 2009
Thanks for the guide. You have enlightened me to the rules of photography.
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner May 14, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
Thanks, glad you found it useful.

Just remember that photography is an art, not a science. There are no rules, simply guidelines. Feel free to do what it takes to get the picture you want.
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:iconnoenaemae:
noenaemae Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2009
can this tutorial be used for SLR film cameras too? hey thanks for the effort, i been searching high and low in other sites for exactly this.
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
The settings described in this tutorial will work for a film camera. However, it will be a little trickier for two rwasons.

Firstly, you will be stuck at one ISO rating. The only way to change the ISO is to change film, which will mean wasting part of a roll.

Secondly, you won't be able to check your exposure as you go, which means that you could spend a few hours shooting only to find that the photos didn't come out.
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:icondazzle-me-jinx:
DaZzLe-Me-JiNx Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2009   Photographer
i have a canon eos 1000D but i don't know how to change the exposure..can you help me out?
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
First of all, set your camera to either Tv (shutter priority) or Av (aperture priority) modes.

Turn the main dial, the one located immediately behind the shutter button.

In Aperture priority, this will adjust the aperture of your lens. Lower numbers mean the aperture is wider, higher numbers mean the aperture is smaller.

In Shutter priority, turning this dial will change the shutter speed. They are displayed in fractions of a second, but without the 1. So 500 means 1/500th of a second.

In Manual Mode (M), you have to set both the aperture AND the shutter speed. Turning the dial by itself will adjust the shutter speed. To change the aperture, you'll need to press a button on the back. It's got a little AV written next to it.

In P mode, the camera will work out the shutter speed and aperture by itself, so you don't have much control over it (although turning the dial should give you different combinations of shutter speed and aperture that will all give you the same overall exposure). Shooting in Auto (the green rectangle) or any of the scene modes gives you no control at all.
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:icondazzle-me-jinx:
DaZzLe-Me-JiNx Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2009   Photographer
oh okay! thank you so much!
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
No worries!
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:icondave-chaulk:
dave-chaulk Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2009
A wonderful tutorial.
Long exposure is tricky with film, as you don't have preview, and can't make 1,000 tries before finding out if they worked.

[link]
:thumb114329170:
This is one of my few successful long exposures, done with cable release @ bulb.

[link]
:thumb110917994:
is a good example of the F/ landscape rule.
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
Yeah, with film, you need to take extensive notes and have a huge amount of experience. Digital is much easier.
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:icondave-chaulk:
dave-chaulk Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2009
Easier, but I love my film.
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
Yeah, film does have some special quality that is very hard to get with digital. But I think that the benefits of digital outweight the disadvantages.

Anyway, those are some good images you've got there.
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:icondave-chaulk:
dave-chaulk Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2009
I can see where your coming from with digital's benefits, the main one being the ability to take thousands of pictures without even slowing down.

Thanks :D
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
There's more to it than that, as you siad. One of the greatest benefits (other than the lack of continuing costs) is that you can check immediately to see if the exposure is correct using the histogram.
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:icondave-chaulk:
dave-chaulk Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2009
That's actually something I'm not a fan of, the search for "Perfection" amongst photographs.
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
There's nothing wrong with wanting the photo to be the best it can be. That's why we developed colour film.
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(1 Reply)
:iconmuchai00:
Muchai00 Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
This is incredibly helpful as I am touching on long exposures. Thanks!
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
Post some when you've got them! I'd love to see. :)

Glad this tutorial has helped you. :)
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:iconmuchai00:
Muchai00 Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
It really helped. I'm still playing around with some of the settings, but I've taken some new exposure photos.
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:icontoxicspirit:
toxicspirit Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2008
thanks for the very helpful tutorial
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:icontheologianofthegash:
TheologianoftheGash Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2007
You have been very helpful... and I thank you!!

Would you have any suggestions in lighting, such as a soft box, ect.. for a beginner photbug such as I... and of course, economical. I'm heading out to buy some items... What could you suggest, on a LOW budget, so I can set up a workshop in my room.

I'm going to buy a black curtain/tarp canvas for a background and some other color(s) for hanging behind the subject... I would like ideally to get one or two lights that I can softly light my subjects... 1-3 lights possibly, diffusers, ect.. Any recommendations from you I would greatly appreciate!!!!

(and just a note... I prefer to shoot in P mode... do you find this exceptable... for portrait shots, model shots, headshots... that type...) I seem to screw up when it comes to AV or TV...)

THANKS!!!!!!!!!
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2007  Hobbyist Photographer
I actually don't have much experience with multiple flash setups, so I'm afraid I can't help you too much in that aspect. In any case, there are lots of tutorials out there on making your own light tent, which give great results for using a single off camera flash.

As for shooting in P mode, well, the highest law of photography is "Make sure you get the shot", and if P mode lets you do that, then that's all fine.

However, learning how A and S modes (Av and Tv modes on some cameras) will give you much more flexibility. Have a read over my shutter speed, ISO and aperture tutorial here: [link] If you'd like, I'll write up a tutorial specifically on using P, A, S, and M modes.
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:icontheologianofthegash:
TheologianoftheGash Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2007
Thanks! Oh, but I wasn't talking about 'flash' lighting... just simple lighting... I guess flash lighting is best... but I'm just trying to find a simple light kit set up, two softboxes or umbrella stuff to set up so I can shoot portraits and my bathed in black look which I love here on DA sooo much. YOU are quite helpful....

Boy a tut would be GREAT!!!!!! I was going to find a dvd or something on the subject but I trust your instincts!!

I took a several shots with Av and Tv and the exposure (indoors, lone subject, daylight through windows) kept darkening, changing, blurring with every shot. The blur I'm sure was due to subject movement, but I was trying to capture moments and trying to avaiod that blur with Tv... UGH!! Help... I'm a royal pain... so sorry... I know I need to compensate with Tv then to apeture... I was wondering... Compose subject in P, note shutter speed, move then to TV and up it or lower it... to reduce blur if my subject is moving. I'm thinking I should probably just raise my ISO to 400 and find a fixed TV and Av... Man, I'm complicating this more than I should!! SORRY!!!!!!!!!!

Boy, if you had a video or something... I would PAY for your time dear professor!!
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2007  Hobbyist Photographer
lol, if you ever come over to Australia, let me know, we can meet up and spend the day taking photos.

As for lighting, you can get some great effects with desk lamps and so forth.

A few things to remember though:

Light has quality - whether it is hard or soft. Hard light is caused when the light source is small from the subject's point of view, be it a small flash unit or the sun millions of miles away. It creates hard shadows with crisp edges. Soft light is from sources that are large from the subject's point of view. Windows with indirect light are an example. This kind of light gives softer shadows without hard edges.

When lighting, keep in mind where the shadows fall, and feel free to bring in some extra light from a different angle to avoid shadows that drop out to black. Also make sure that you don't get any unattractive shadows across the face, such as the shadows that can highlight the bags under someone's eyes.

Anyway, the advantage with digital is that you can shoot as many test shots as you like and see them immediately and make as many adjustments as you like.

I'll start writing that tutorial.
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:icontheologianofthegash:
TheologianoftheGash Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2007
Thank u sooo much!! PS... I'm packing my bags... but can only stay a minute!
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:icontheologianofthegash:
TheologianoftheGash Featured By Owner May 22, 2007
You know... with the Power shot... it didn't come out too bad. But there was noise... so if I were to blow it up at 8x10, I'm sure it would show... It looks great on the pc, but as I magnified it, I could see the blackness had extensive noise... Shot at 1/100 ISO... low flash, to no flash compensation... So what did I do...? I went out a bought The Digital Rebel XTI! OH YEAH!! I had too...and awalys wanted too! (Anyone want to buy a powershot reaaal cheap!) I'm used to The Rebel from once before... but let's say once more, I am forced to use indoor lighting to do a headshot... lowlight ect, no special photography lighting. What would you recommend? I could use use flash compensation again... How can I avoid noise (if there will be any) using indoor lighting, low lighting, and pull off a good bathed in black shot!!

THANKS!!!
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:icontiberius47:
Tiberius47 Featured By Owner May 22, 2007  Hobbyist Photographer
First of all, noise in your image is governed by your ISO. The higher the ISO, the more noise there will be. However, dSLR cameras give much better results when it comes to noise. They can use high ISO values and still have relativiely low amounts of noise. This is because the size of their image sensors is larger than the sensors found in point and shoot cameras.

A little lesson on how digital cameras do ISO. When you raise the ISO value in a digital camera, the camera amplifies the signal coming from each pixel on the sensor. However, there are random fluctuations that cause the noise. They are always there, but they are generally pretty unnoticable. However, when the signals are amplified, these fluctuations are amplified as well, causing the noise to appear stronger and stronger the more the signals are amplified.

However, say you have an 8 megapixel sensor in a dSLR and an 8 megapixel sensor in a compact point and shoot. Even though the resolutions are the same, the sensor in the dSLR is physically larger. This means that each individual pixel on the sensor is larger. because of this, the dSLR sensor is less prone to the fluctuations that cause noise.

The end result of this is that a dSLR camera at a high ISO will display less noise than a compact point and shoot camera at the same ISO.

So to avoid noise, keep the ISO low. With the XTi, you can probably go up to ISO 400 and get acceptable results.

To get the black background, take your metering off the person, using partial metering (Look in your manual on how to set this). This will measure the brightness from just the very center of the picture. Once you've set this metering mode, aim the center of the viewfinder at the person's face and press the shutter button halfway down. This will lock the focus and exposure. Then, keep holding the shutter halfway down, and recompose the picture. When you are happy with the composition, press the shutter the rest of the way down to take the photo.

If you are using the flash, press the * button instead of pressing the shutter down halfway. This will make the flash fire so the camera can see how bright the flash will be and then meter off that. if you do this, you should get a nicely exposed subject (albeit with the flat direct flash lighting). If you do this in a darkened room and with a few meters of space behind you, this will ensure that the background comes out dark.
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:icontheologianofthegash:
TheologianoftheGash Featured By Owner May 23, 2007
Very cool! Thanks very much for your BIG help! i will experiment this weekend!
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Submitted on
April 6, 2007
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Camera Data

Make
Panasonic
Model
DMC-LZ1
Shutter Speed
10/600 second
Aperture
F/3.0
Focal Length
8 mm
ISO Speed
100
Date Taken
Apr 6, 2007, 10:40:45 PM
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