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Light balancing in nature photography.

Light balanced skunk cabbage in the snow.
Light balanced skunk cabbage in the snow.
Photo by Bill McCracken

Light balancing in nature photography.
This is the Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) that emerges in late February and early March. Some years there is snow on the ground and it makes a dramatic picture. In order to get the colors of the flower correct and have the snow appear white this image requires exposure balancing.
Choose the spot meter mode and measure the exposure for the flower. Meter the background and compare the two combinations. If the background exposure is plus two stops or more it will start to look white. The flower will lose its color if the background is correctly exposed at more than two stops difference with no additional fill. The ice will loose its delicate details around the flower as well.
With the DSLR in flash mode you can control the exposure and bring the two combinations together. Set up the ambient exposure for the flower. Set the flash so that it produces the correct exposure on the snow by adding the amount of stops difference.
Use a camera dedicated speed light and set it on TTL to do this automatically. Review the image histogram. If the image is still under exposed in the shadows adjust the flash exposure compensation for more output. The exposure is correct if the flower details are seen deep in the snow.
Compact cameras have flash control but it’s not possible to control both like the DSLR. Review the image in the histogram to bring up the mid tones and shadows. Additional color balancing may be required in levels to correct for atmospheric reflections.

http://dptnt.com/2010/01/balancing-flash-and-ambient-exposure/

http://books.google.com/books?id=wK4GMgoPaRwC&pg=PA124&lpg=PA124&dq=exposure+balancing&source=bl&ots=RKi4Buqel7&sig=tq47MZ0ikIK58FqjU8IUSQEBVog&hl=en&ei=XECVS8n8Nsvh8Qa72aCoBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAUQ6AEwADgK#v=onepage&q=exposure%20balancing&f=false
 

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