Short story: please go to this Picasa album, view the slide show with captions on, and come back here and tell me which exposures with Flash:off and which exposures with some value of Flash Exposure Compensation you liked. Refer to the number, e.g., "I330" at the beginning of each caption.
Y'day, a number of what would have been good photographs I blew because I didn't get the exposure right. The photographic situation is: person in the shadow, bright background. Hence this set of two series.
The constants are:
Canon 5D on tripod
24-105 mm f/4 lens at 105.0 mm
580 EX II flash.
All files are jpgs from the camera, dragged into the Picasa upload tool.
There were some light clouds, occasionally obscuring the sun. The series was taken between 12:10 and 12:30.
If you don't have flash handy, use spot or partial metering to get the face correctly exposed. You will likely sacrifice the background, but you don't have much choice.
Things greatly improve if you have a flash. Use evaluative metering, and (on the 5D) set exposure compensation to -1/3 to -1 - this will preserve highlights in the background. Set flash exposure compensation to -1 or more, otherwise you will overexpose the face.
Yes, I know post-camera RAW file processing opens a whole new large parameter space. But for the most part, I don't think I want to spend a lot of time in front of the computer, I want the exposure to require minimum to zero touch up.
Criticism, better technique, suggestions for another experiment with other settings, I'd really welcome.
Postscript: Remember, this is for unposed photographs of people who are not going to stay still. I don't think I'd have the time to meter on middle gray, exposure lock and then reframe and take the picture.
A Potentially Tragic Taper
56 minutes ago