So I'm shooting outside in the shade using the natural light, auto (without flash) setting. What I'm doing is taking pictures of clothing on a very dark table (for an ebay business). The darker clothes come out great, and the image quality is crisp and full of detail. The light clothes, for some reason, come out terribly on the dark table. The image quality is poor, the lighting is very, very dark, and the picture doesn't look very good at all. I try focusing initially on the dark table and then taking the picture of, say, a white shirt, and it lightens the picture up a bit, but for the most part it still looks very dark and poor. Any ideas, any help?
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It sounds like your camera is under exposing a little. If you can, shoot in "raw" mode, and adjust in the software the camera manufacturer provides. Other things you can do: adjust the white balance for the lighting, override the camera's exposure to get more light, use flash, etc.
Automatic settings are not useful in all conditions. The built in flash is not good over 20 ft. Under low light conditions, an external flash is better option, but it costs additional too. Remember that shooting under low light conditions is always a difficult task. By the way, I don't know about such common problem in Canon XTi
First, make sure you have the file size set to the highest size and highest quality. Small file size and low quality settings produce small files with pixelization.
Second, no camera performs as well in low light as it does in bright light. It sounds like you are new to photography, so you should start out by shooting in bright light - outdoors in the sun. Once you know how to take good photos in the sun, then you can try taking photos when it is overcast, or in bright shade (on a sunny day but outside of the direct sunlight). As you develop more experience in taking photos you can try more difficult lighting situations such as indoors.
Flash lighting is difficult because the light "falls off" quickly as the distance from the flash to the subject increases. The camera's flash tries to put out enough light to illuminate both the subject closest to the camera and to also try to light the background, but this is often impossible. So the subject is too bright, and the background remains dark. If your subject is further away, the lighting evens out some. If your subject is close to the background (e.g. standing in front of a light colored wall) the camera will get the flash exposure set to a better value and the photos will come out better.
It would also help to get a book on basic photography.
So, the problem doesn't seem to be the flash if the actual subject in
the foreground is exposed properly. My guess is that the background is
being lit by another light source. Typically, your camera uses a flash
for dark areas or what it gauges as a dark area. This doesn't adjust
the background for additional light sources. For example, if you're
standing outside and there's a tree covering someone that you're taking
a picture of your flash will adjust to "properly" light that
individual. However, because the flash was used for the main subject,
the background is actually now overexposed. The overexposed background
will show up as a brightly lit area because the camera had to adjust
for the foreground. This will actually reverse itself when it's dark
out - meaning if the background and foreground are dark, the flash will
expose the foreground, but the background will be black. Hopefully,
that helps you understand lighting and exposure. Now, to fix this
problem when shooting, you would need to consider several options - 1.
SLR camera with aperture and f-stop settings as well as compensation
controls. This will allow you to control every element of the exposure, but you still need to be aware of the lighting behind the "subject" to properly expose your shots. 2. backlighting compensation - common settings on both SLR and point and shoot cameras that makes auto lighting conversions for backlighting and other common lighting issues. Test whatever options are on your camera to see what works best for your specific problem. 3. Photoshop retouching - you may take one shot with your subject exposed properly and a second shot with the background then merge the images together. 4. using
a tripod to shoot without using the flash - this may give you the closest exposure to exactly what you see when looking at your subject.
learning to use light metering correctly can have its challenge. the manual will guide you on how to set up to read light from the subject. spot metering a dark area will cause general overexposure, or a washed out look. spot metering a bright area will cause a dark image. if you are on spot meter and shoot two people standing together against a bright lit background, your meter will see between them if they are centered, and read all that bright background, setting the camera to a less sensitive combination of aperture / shutter speed, resulting in a dark image. use field averaging meter setting and be sure you are metering the subject and not the background. try shooting a wall that is fairly clear of other colors and uniform it light hitting it, you should have a correctly exposed image. since it works in other modes (at least 1, anyway) then it is unlikely you have an exposure compensation issue. that is the only other non defect issue that would cause your problem. once you confirm that you have these settings correct and still get a dark image, its time to have it serviced. good luck mark
The Shooting modes are as follows:
Program Auto (Factory default setting)
Used for regular photography. The camera automatically makes the settings for natural color balance. Other functions, such as the flash mode and metering, can be adjusted manually.
Suitable for taking a portrait-style shot of a person. The camera automatically sets the optimal shooting conditions.
Suitable for taking photos of landscapes and other outdoor scenes. The camera automatically sets the optimal shooting conditions.
Suitable for shooting pictures in the evening or at night. The camera sets a slower shutter speed than is used in normal shooting. If you take a picture of a street at night in any other mode, the lack of brightness will result in a dark picture with only dots of light showing. In this mode, the true appearance of the street is captured. The camera automatically sets the optimal shooting conditions. If you use the flash, you can take pictures of both the subject and the background.
Enables you to take a picture of yourself while holding the camera. Point the lens towards yourself and the focus will be locked on you. The camera automatically sets the optimal shooting conditions. The zoom is fixed in the Wide position and cannot be changed.
The shooting modes are as follows:
PROGRAM (P)/AUTO Modes. Used for general photography. The camera automatically makes the settings for natural color balance. In PROGRAM AUTO (P) the brightness (exposure compensation) can be adjusted.
Portrait. Suitable for taking a portrait-style photo of a person. The camera automatically sets the optimal shooting settings to produce natural skin tones.
Landscape + Portrait. Suitable for taking photos of both your subject and the landscape. This setting allows both the foreground subject and background landscape to be in focus.
Landscape. Suitable for taking photos of landscapes and other outdoor scenes. The camera automatically sets the optimal shooting settings to produce vivid blues and greens.
Night and Portrait. Suitable for taking photos of your subject in the evening or at night. Since the shutter speed is slow, it is advised that you use a tripod to support the camera in this mode to help avoid blur from camera shake.
Night Scene. Suitable for shooting pictures in the evening or at night. The camera sets a slower shutter speed than is used in normal shooting. If you take a picture of a street at night in any other mode, the lack of brightness will result in a dark picture with only dots of light showing. In this mode, the true appearance of the street is captured. The camera automatically sets the optimal shooting settings. If you use the flash, you can take pictures of both foreground subjects and the background. It is advised that you use a tripod to support the camera in this mode to help avoid blur from camera shake.
Sports. Suitable for capturing fast moving action without blurring. Even a fast moving object will appear to be stationary.
Self Portrait. Enables you to take a picture of yourself while holding the camera. Point the lens toward yourself and the focus will be locked on you. The camera automatically sets the optimal shooting settings. The zoom is fixed in the wide position and cannot be changed.
Movie Mode. Enables you to take a QuickTime movie.