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Dog in the park at sunset; how to use flash compensation

Fun practice session with my dog Sammy tonight at Lacey Park in San Marino. I got lucky: a very nice sunset popped while I was in the midst of trying to persuade Sammy to look at the camera.

The result is above.

I almost never use the flash on my Nikon D5100 (I don't even have an external flash unit). In this case, flash saved the day. With a bright sky behind Sammy, flash was the only way I would get enough light on the pooch. 

Without the flash, Sammy would have just been a dark blob. And recovering those highlights would have been very difficult without making the scene look very unnatural. In this case, I metered off the sky and dialed back the flash to -2.0 -- using just enough to get some light on Sammy while keeping the sky intact. (If you don't know how to use flash compensation on the 5100, click here).

There is one issue in the photo a sharp eye will catch. There is some chromatic aberration (colored outlines of objects) I was able to reduce but not completely eliminate. But it's manageable and non-photographer friends probably wouldn't notice. A stock photo site: yes, they would probably notice. But I'm not into stock photography (nor are they into me). 

Camera & Settings: Nikon D5100, Nikon DX 35mm 1.8 lens, 1/200th at f/6.3, ISO 200, flash -2.0, handheld camera. The photo was shot in RAW and processed in Lightroom 4 using some of the adjustment tools that come with VSCO presets although I didn't actually apply a film preset. 

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This photo is ©Steve Hymon and may not be used elsewhere without my advanced written permission. All rights reserved.

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