Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Exposing for the Forest

I don't know of any camera anywhere that can expose accurately when shooting in the forest.  Usually they come out overexposed and have horrible color - nothing at all like the way you saw it.  The good news is you can solve the problem in two easy steps.

Here's a picture (below) taken with the camera set to "AUTO" (you can click on any picture to view a larger version):

Compared to how it looked to my eye, it's overexposed and the colors are all wrong.   The good news is it can be fixed using only two camera adjustments:

1) Use the exposure compensation feature to underexpose by about -0.7 stops, resulting in the picture below:

Now it looks darker, like it looks in person.  Next, set the white balance to DAYLIGHT:
There!  That's how it looked to my eye.  The greens look greener.  (Actually, what happened is the camera added more yellow.)  

How to improve the shot?  Put a human subject next to the giant tree roots so you can see just how giant this fallen redwood is.  (See the top picture.)

Florida and Nova Scotia seminars are open for enrollment!


  1. Very nice!
    Nice to see the new blog-congratulations


  2. Alright, Gary!

    Good luck with the "new" blog. I'll be checking it out.


  3. Well THAT was Easy! Thanks for the tip. I frequently shoot at -0.7 or -0.3 but thanks for the daylight white balance suggestion. We are up in Oregon and camping in the forest so the timing is great! Can't wait for your Hong Kong photos.
    Bob Maher

  4. Great addition Gary. Hope you will keep posting tips every now and then.

    Have a productive trip to Hong kong

  5. Love the new format especially if we will be hearing from you more often. Keep us posted on your trip to HK I'm sure you'll have many wonderful photographic opportunities there.

  6. Congrats to the new blog and welcome to blogspot :)

  7. I like everything you do, so doing more of it has got to be good! Looking forward to your blog. Do you think the same tip is true in a tropical forest?

  8. Hi, YRG. Yes, the conditions are the same, so these techniques should work in a tropical forest as well. (Just watch out for humidity fogging your lens!! :-) )

  9. Just bought the SONY alpha35, that replaced may old Minolta dating back 10 years ago... I discovered the precious Friedman guide and casually find this page. I use to shoot in forests and always found it difficult to reproduce what I saw. I learnt oly wehit personal experience to start compensating but never thougth to adjust white balance. Well just went oout to try this and it works so fine! thanks!

  10. Gary, I just purchased your e-book for the a65 a week or two ago and found this tip in a timely manner. In the morning I am flying out to San Francisco and planning to be out hiking in the redwoods for the week. Thanks!!

  11. Hey Gary, I got your book for the Sony a77II, and love it! I also have an a99, but all I see at Amazon is your book for the a99II, and since they seem to be totally different beasts, I'm wondering if you have a book available for The version 1.



    1. Hi, Ed. Yes, I do!

  12. Hi Gary,
    I shoot with a77ii and in my case, shooting in forest in sunny autumn WB set to shade works best. I love your book about a77ii. I read it passionately. Cheers, Artur, Poland.


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