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Shooting dark foreground with light background

Super Contributor

IMG_8282.JPGMy amateur status is showing. Here's a photo I took back in August. Did edit with PSE but can't get the background right; white stripes turn red. Can eliminate them by moving the "White" to the extreme left. This was under a shelter in daylight.. Flash?

Canon T7 1500D 1/200 f/8 36mm ISO 400 Shot at 5:56 PM

Recommendations are most welcome. Thanks.


EB, thanks for your example. 

" If you have a P mode snapshot let it be a P mode snapshot."


You do know what "P" stands for?  P is for "professional mode"!  Smiley Very Happy

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

Respected Contributor

Ernie did a very nice job in his post (#8) in this thread of editing the photo and I believe he has extracted about the best that can be done given what was captured.


If it was ONLY a light background and dark foreground, you can end up with a beautiful image but in most cases what happens is what you experienced with the light background being fairly  close and thus reflecting a lot of light to the back of your subjects creating loss of contrast. This is a case where some properly applied fill flash will work wonders.


And pay close attention to his advice on adjusting WB because it will save you a lot of time and trouble with problematic color shifts.  I shoot sports photos under some really lousy lighting conditions and using auto white balance with white priority applied does a very good job most of the time but I use the DPP "click white balance" option under white balance frequently.


Friday night I shot a football game in miserable rainy conditions at the worst illuminated field in the conference.  Lighting coverage is inadequate and a large percentage of the bulbs weren't working at all with reduced output from others.  Using f2.8 glass and 1/800 shutter speed resulted in ISO 16-20,000 at the best spots with most shots in the 25,600 to 32,000 range with 51,200 in the end zones.  Canon 1DX series cameras produce usable photos under these conditions but the combination of poor lighting along with color temperature ranging across a wide range due to aging bulbs requires more work in post than most fields. 


This was a fun shot from late in the fourth quarter with the starting QB wearing his still near pristine uniform while his line is coated in mud.  Colin ran out of bounds near me early in the fourth and told me on the way back in that he wanted a photo with his mud covered line after the game was over 🙂 They did a great job of protecting him during the game!


Shot with Canon 1DX Mark III with EF 400 f2.8 @ f2.8, 1/800, ISO 40,000 processed through DPP.







EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

"...he wanted a photo with his mud covered line after the game was over Smiley Happy They did a great job of protecting him during the game!"


Looks like they did a fine job. His uniform still looks clean!


You know whether teaching music or photography, the student or beginner frequently has trouble. Common. One main reason, that has varied causes to why is, they don't do what the instructor or teacher tells them. 


The photo shown as an example took perhaps three minutes to get to that point. A levels adjustment, a quick mask and another levels adjustment to that. WB adjustment done with these levels. If the sample was shot with Raw it would have a  much greater latitude to do these adjustments.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!