Shine Head – The Problem Of Specular Highlights And Off Camera Flash

So, I’ve been pondering a particular problem recently – shinny heads.

A month or so ago I was a little stumped when trying to take a portrait of a woman and her child. Her makeup had left her quite shinny. The bony protuberances of her cheeks and forehead were totally blown. Dropping the exposure and doing other various things with local adjustments lessened the problem, but I couldn’t make it go away. More lights to balance her face better, better lighting positioning, more experience, etc. may well have solved the problem, but maybe not. She was really shinny.

So, I’ve been pondering this problem recently.

Today, while waiting for a tram, I saw this guy. What struck me, immediately, was that his bald pate was a mess of blown highlights, even to my compensating and forgiving human eye. Basically, a mirror of the sky. How, I wondered, would I light this guy for the unrelenting and unforgiving gaze of a digital sensor?

No idea.

Anyway, here he is. Because, of course, I took a photo.*

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* yes, I know the sky is blown out. That’s the point, so is his head

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