1. Welcome to NikonCafe.com—a friendly Nikon camera & photography discussion forum!

    If you are thinking of buying a camera or need help with your photos, you will find our forum members full of advice! Click here to join for free!

How to make a good camera (D300) take bad photos

Discussion in 'Nikon DX DSLR Forum' started by mikefitz6, Aug 31, 2008.

  1. I am trying to understand what I did to get this camera to take such poor photos.

    I normally try to shoot with the sun behind my back and can get OK photos.
    White uniforms on a sunny day are something I struggle with. Still, I think I got some detail on the skin without blowing out every part of the white uniform.


    Today I had a chance to shoot a soccer game just for fun. So I decided to experiment. I shot into a bright, 1:00 PM Colorado sun. I wanted to see if I could get face detail by shooting at +.3 to +.7 to compensate for the bright background. Sometimes you just can't get into an ideal position. I used a D300/300 f2.8 + 1.4TC or 300 f2.8 alone (VR off) on a monopod. ISO 320, f4, SS at 1/1250 or greater. CW metering. Actually, the same settings as the photo above except for the EV settings and ISO 200.

    What I got was 90% out of focus pictures and very noisy pictures.

    Here is an example - no changes except RAW to JPEG. I suspect this is an example of way to much bright background overwhelming the sensor.


    A quick attempt to save the shot. It did not work.


    100% crop - an awful lot of noise due to over PP I suspect and pushing the camera beyond its capabilities.


    Most (90% +) of the shots were very blurry. Even when the subject was closer and filled the viewfinder I had blurring. Focus was right on the CSU's players chest.


    OK, thinking this through, I figure there might be five reasons for this.

    1. I should have used the VR, even at SS 1/1250-1/3000 I still was shaking (wind, poor tecnique, whatever else I did wrong).

    2. I should have tried spot metering.

    3. I figure the background was so bright, I overwhelmed the sensor and it could not pick up enough contrast to focus.

    4. I am going beyond the DR of the camera.

    5. All of the above. I think this is the most likely with #3 accounting for most of the problems.

    Lesson #1 - don't shoot into a bright sun!

    Could anybody comment?

  2. MR.BIG


    Feb 24, 2008
    Hope that You don`t mind :wink: but I have similar problem ...

    Subjects were in the shade and the sky is ...... as you can see there is no sky :confused: 

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    I would love to read some tips from somobody .....

    Thank you
  3. Alias


    Aug 23, 2008
    Brighton UK
    the only way around this is to:

    1 - Shoot film as the latitude is greater and therefore it will retain detail in the highlights (the sky)

    2 - Bracket and blend for the sky and the subject

    3 - HDR

    4 - Expose for the sky and use fill in flash to light the subject.
  4. CP filter might help just a thought.
  5. lovemy8514

    lovemy8514 Guest

    The first image is excellent.

    I don't know of a camera out there that can stand taking a shot into full sun without either the subject being under-exposed or the sky being blown out.

    Position is everything when shooting in afternoon sun, which is the worst time to take shots. A day with bad weather is a good day for photography!

    Flash would help for closer shots.

    Position yourself so that the sun is somewhat behind you if possible, and use SPOT metering to get the exposure of the player correct. The sky and other bright areas of the image may be blown, but you'll get more shots with the subject properly exosed.
  6. mathjak107


    Mar 20, 2007
    funny how we all have the same issues, that horrible sky with nice exposure on our subjects.
  7. rampal


    May 4, 2008
    @Newbury, UK
    that's why I'm always carring an SB-800 with me... so I can highlight the shadows and have a decent exposure of the sky...

    A CP is also something worth to consider as well...

    I also consider that image 1 os very good.
  8. Commodorefirst

    Commodorefirst Admin/Moderator Administrator

    May 1, 2005
    sometimes you just have to let the sky blow, and not worry about it, it is all about the faces most of the time, in situations like this I like to spot meter on the face to get a setting and use as a reference.

    Also, were you in AF-S mode or AF-C, lock on short or normal vs off might have an effect too.

    focus in the second shot isn't bad, note the feet and grass are sharp at the right distance.

    ISO 320 on the D300 is sometimes worse than ISO 800 because of the noise reduction algorhythms in the processing, even with NR turned off.

    Some thoughts,

    but I do think there was enough contrast for AF

    If I had done center weighted or matrix without any considerations this photo would be trashed. Spot meter on the face:

    http://homepage.mac.com/wadedowdy/.Pictures/Misc. Images/06 Valley Flowers 49.JPG

  9. Toby D

    Toby D

    Mar 7, 2006
    Hand that camera to me, I can manage it badly any day. No effort at all.;{

    If you want some sky, just use a color point in NX and take some red out of the sky, Voila', blue skies.

    Sometimes an ND can help, but forces other compromises on you, like slower shutter speed or wider aperture.
  10. ANDS


    Aug 2, 2008
    Errr. . .that first shot is awesomesauce. Nelly Nitpickers might open up PS and verify that the left leg shorts are "blown", but if this is a shot for someone, guarantee they aren't going to even pay attention.
  11. Panopeeper

    Panopeeper Guest

    Only regarding the blown sky and white shirt:

    underexpose the shot with at least one stop. At ISO 200 the D300 is good enough to be adjusted (pushed) in raw conversion without causing noise even if there are darker parts of the image than here.

    If the sky is cloudy and that causes it blowing, use a magenta filter (blue sky is seldom the cause of blowing). The CC30M can increase the DR by about 1/2 stop.

    Unfortunately, B+W stopped manufacturing it, but Tiffan is making one acceptable in most situations.
  12. If you've read any of Thom Hogan's guide to the latest camera's Nikon has released,
    you will notice that he would usually stay away from Matrix Metering with a bright background as it will underexpose your subject.

    Your best bet if you haven't done so, is to pick up the D300 Guide
  13. Panopeeper

    Panopeeper Guest

    This is a question of fact, not of opinion, so I am speculating now but I don't think the shorts are really blown; I guess it's the creature of raw conversion.
  14. MurphyD


    Jan 17, 2007
    South Texas
    #1 has great color in the grass, shoes, ball, skin, hair. You can even see different colors in her face. Blush in her cheeks. Good separation of the subject from the bg in both focus and exposure.(about 1 stop) Focus is spot on with blur of her arm to accentuate motion. Man you have to really work to find something wrong with this. No one will care about the sky and/or notice the blown whites except those of us who continue to work at fixing a problem which has no solution anywhere but in post processing.

    I have decided that each of us will get one perfectly lit day per lifetime. This was not your day and you still made a really nice picture.

    Until my perfect day comes along, I have also decided that a small amount of flash and a small amount of underexposure in almost every outdoor picture helps. As will all the other suggestions made here.
    Your next trip out will be better
  15. Hi.

    I have suffered these light conditions, like here: Sun overhead and in front, shining onto a water surface ...

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    I have some ideas which helped me - maybe some of you may consider them as well:

    1. Change the position

    As already mentioned, the wrong position kills everything. On a lakeshore (like above), there is no chance. But whenever possible: get yourself in a better position.

    2. Manual control

    I don't use any metering or automatic in these light conditions. Instead, I measured something with an equivalent level and nail the settings manually. My experience is, the results are more consistent and better to pp afterwards.
    As long as the light is not changing (clouds are a problem !), this will work.

    Hope it helps some one ...


  16. MikeG76


    Jun 11, 2008
    Middletown, NY
    Would a few ND filters help at all in situations like this?
  17. Not really. The problem is due to high contrast and ND filters don't change that unless they are graduated (and those don't work in these types of situations).
  18. PatrickO


    Aug 5, 2007
    Leeds, UK
    Do exactly what you are doing, but stand up. That will change the background. You may want to reduce DOF at the same tie to blur the background.

    Whether in a stadium or open fields, I also pick out large flat areas of colour and then try to shoot the players when they pass in front of it. Or I shoot the players when they are close to me so any busy background is blurred.

    If you only want to improve a few shots, you could also shoot RAW and try to HDR this - shoot an average scene and then process one a stop brighter and one a stop darker. Merge and erase selectively.
  19. lovemy8514

    lovemy8514 Guest

    What I do in a situation with an extremely bright background is use spot metering. The subject will come out properly, the bright background will be blown.

    The dynamic range simply isn't there to capture a bright, sunlit background and a darker subject in front of it.

    Something must give, and that something should be the bright background!
  20. Thanks all for the replies. I have several things to try out! This is the perfect team to experiment on. I can't sell photos (NCAA property), and my son is still sidelined due to a stress fracture, so I get to try all sorts of angles and settings with no pressure to produce photos. When he starts playing again, then I have to quit experimenting.

    Thanks again!
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.