Why my photographs are not exposing correctly

Often when taking photographs where the background is very bright and the subject in the foreground is dark and underexposed, or for that matter the other way around, is an easy fix. Firstly, beware that you will need certain addition gear to compensate to ensure that the light is exposed evenly on both the foreground and the background. If you feel this is just no for you, and you are just getting frustrated with the outcome of your photographs, you need to choose a different environment where the surroundings are evenly lit such as golden hour, or a cloudy overcast day, where the lighting is balanced and neutral.

What gear I would need to ensure even compensation

If you are on a limited budget, or just shooting as a hobbyist, I would suggest that you research and acquire a decent speedlight as well as a transmitter, an umbrella, and a stand. Ensure that the speedlight is powerful and can generate a flash that is very bright. Make sure that you choose a white umbrella of the correct size diameter that will bounce and ensure you get the coverage that you require, and finally, ensure that your transmitter is readable to meet the requirements of the flash you use. Try avoid generics, as they often prove to disappoint and tend to be a waste of money. Hint… when shooting in windy surrounds, make sure you take a sandbag along to avoid the stand being blown over, as the wind can easily catch the umbrella and work like a sail.

How to set this all up in a few simple steps

Make sure your camera is set on manual and adjust the correct settings for the ISO, Shutter speed and aperture on the background which is brighter than the foreground, example the sunset. Set up your speedlight on the stand with the umbrella. Make sure the flash points towards the inside of the umbrella, so when triggered, the light will bounce off the umbrella onto the foreground subject, example, the person in the swimming costume.

Taking into account that the light meter is correctly set, take a shot as a test. The light from the flash bouncing off the umbrella should light up the subject, your next task is to adjust the power of the flash to ensure the compensation is correct and balanced. If you are lazy, or short on time and stressing, just move the speedlight and stand either closer or further back from the subject until the lighting and exposure is evenly compensated to your taste. The transmitter will allow you to control the light power on the flash from a distance ranging from 20 to 30 meters away, so you are able to compose and frame accordingly without running back and forth to the speedlight to adjust.

Yes, it is that simple. Always take the reading on your camera on the brightest area  such as the view from outside the window into the garden, and use the flash to light up the inside of the room.


Hope this has answered some of your questions, alternatively, attend a short outdoor workshop or a studio lighting workshop that is practical and hands on.