Since they were first invented, cameras have been unable to capture detail in objects when there are two or more of them with wildly different lighting. Unlike the human eye, a camera can't get the detail from both a brightly lit and dimly lit subject in the same frame. Rather than view this as a drawback, lets see it as something to have fun with that can add an awesome dimension to your creativity.

In the following pictures I wanted to shoot the sign and the cliff whilst incorporating a nice chunk of sky for contrast in the shot. However the side of the cliff was extremely dark and cast in shadow while the sky was very bright in the morning light.

You can see from the two pictures the results are quite different depending on whether I set the exposure for the dark cliff area or for the bright sky.

In Auto mode, when you focus lock your cam onto a subject (pressing the button halfway until it beeps), you are not only locking in the focus but you are also locking in the exposure values as well. The camera's electronics will decide which shutter speed and which aperture setting to use so that the detail in the picture is revealed. It does this by measuring the amount of light that enters the lens when you are pointing it at a subject.

In the first shot I focus locked on the darkened cliff face and then panned the camera around to frame up the shot (using the trusty rule of thirds) and in the resulting pic you can see what happened. The cam set the exposure values for the darkened cliff face and all the detail there is revealed, however the bright sky got totally bleached out and severely overexposed as a result. Not so good.

For shot two I simply focus locked on the bright sky and then framed up the exact same shot. You can see the great results and the picture is a far nicer shot for it.

TIP: Whenever I shoot outdoors I'm always stoked to see what the pro's call an active sky. This means clouds but not so many as to restrict the sunlight by any great amount. Blue skies with white cloud in them always add a great element to pictures.

If you have a choice of days to take your pictures then active skies are the el primo ones to use. Active skies + sunrise or sunset = brilliant shots no matter what you are shooting.

* Remember * ... Focus and Apeture Lock, Panning the Cam to frame up with the button still pressed halfway and Active Skies.

(C) All rights reserved.

Enjoy this article ? The site ? Would you buy me a beer for my efforts?