Digital Photography Quick Tips

Difficult subjects to photograph

Written by Gail Bjork

Learn how to adjust digital camera settings when photographing these difficult subjects.

In the spotlightCompact digital cameras do a good job at automatically exposing photos in light where the subject is evenly lit. However there are times when you must override the camera’s setting to get a decent exposure, particularly when photographing the subjects listed below.

Difficult subjects to photograph

  • Scenes with high contrast that contain both dark shadows or bright highlights.
  • Very bright scenes such as at the beach.
  • Snowscapes.
  • Very dark scenes such as a forest.
  • When a subject is in front of a dark background.
  • When a subject is in front of a light background.
  • When the main source of light comes from behind the subject.
  • “Spot lighted” subjects, where the main area is bright and most of the scene is dark (eg photographing the moon; actor on a stage). Use spot or center weighted metering.

To get the best photos in difficult lighting, take plenty of shots, bracket and/or use the appropriate metering mode such as spot metering. For backlit subjects that are close-up, use fill-in flash or reflector. Another effective method to use instead of bracketing is Exposure Compensation.

When it is difficult to focus, plan ahead and pre-focus by depressing the shutter-release button halfway then recompose. Use Manual Focus or Auto Focus/Auto Exposure Lock (AF/AF Lock) if your camera has either of these features.

Many digital cameras have intelligent auto and scene modes with pre-set factory optimized settings for various scenes.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.