I recently bought Nikon D7200. A good camera. But I feel a great challenge while taking a photo of a model standing in the middle of the tunnel. The tunnel is short and outside the tunnel is a picturesque lush green landscape.

  • If I use in-built flash, it takes a picture of model but then washes out the tunnel's outside view with 'white'.
  • If I don't use the flash, the subject comes 'dark'

What aperture is needed if the model is say 10 ft from your camera and the tunnel end is say 200 meters? What shutter speed is required? I don't want bokeh effects.

  • Several possibilities here: 1. "Balanced Fill Flash" 2. "Flash Compensation". The objective is to match the flash exposure on the model to the ambient light, outside the tunnel. Jul 2 '16 at 20:39
  • Also explore "High Speed Sync". Jul 2 '16 at 20:46

Sounds like you want the outside of the tunnel to be properly exposed and not blown out. Meter for that and with your camera set to full manual mode use the settings suggested by the light meter. Take some test shots to fine tune the exposure.

You are limited with an on camera flash but try adjusting the power of the flash with the flash compensation function. Keeping your aperture and shutter speed set to what you came up with for the proper exposure for the outside and experiment with the flash compensation function, plus or minus, until you have a good balance of light on the model and the outside scene. You may need alternative lighting equipment.

Because of the distance between the model and the scene outside of the tunnel you will need a small aperture to achieve your depth of field criteria, and this may mean your on camera flash is not going to be powerful enough. Move the model, and start all over again. ( well not really, you still know the correct setting for the scene outside the tunnel if the light has not changed ) but the model may have more ambient light falling on her/him if they are closer to the end of the tunnel.

  • 4
    I would recommend avoiding phrases such as "you will need a small aperture" because it's ambiguous whether you mean "a narrow aperture" (e.g., f/16) or "a small F-number" (e.g., f/2). Jun 28 '16 at 12:48
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    @David Richerby. A small aperture is just that, an opening that is small. Narrow could be used in place of small. i Purposely used the term "you will need a small aperture" because i wanted to avoid using the sentence - You will need a large fstop. Does that mean a large number or a large size? (even more confusing in my opinion) I wanted to state that the aperture should be small because small apertures give greater depth of field. Yes i probably should have used an example of a small aperture like f11.
    – Alaska Man
    Jun 28 '16 at 16:24
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    It's totally clear to me because of the context, but that requires knowing the effect of small apertures already. Tricky.
    – Jasmine
    Jun 28 '16 at 16:27
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    @Alaskaman You're coming to it from the point of view of already knowing the answer. People who do not know the answer, do not necessarily know that you mean a small opening. They don't know that a small opening is required, and they don't know that you're using the word "aperture" to refer literally to the aperture, or figuratively to the f-number. Jun 28 '16 at 16:32
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    We typically avoid confusion about aperture with a clarifying parenthetical comment, like: ...you will need a small aperture (large f-number)...
    – Caleb
    Jun 28 '16 at 16:39

(Some people might hang me for this but) You could take two shots and photoshop/merge them together afterwards.

To do this you would have to take two shots from the exact same spot, maybe use a tripod.

Take the first shot with the right settings to get your desired exposure for the outisde bit of the tunnel.

For the second shot with the model use either the camera settings to get the right exposure or use flash.

Afterwards you can merge the two images in photoshop.

This way you can work around the problem.

  • 2
    Isn't this the basic idea behind HDR? Take a bunch of pictures at different exposures, then combine them in post so that every area of the photo is perfectly exposed.
    – Era
    Jun 28 '16 at 15:54
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    A lot of people do have an instinctive feeling that doing something like this in Photoshop is somehow "cheating", and may call for you to be hanged for that reason. For me, the problem with doing it in Photoshop is that it invariably takes much, much longer to edit two images together than it would have taken to just achieve the same effect in camera. This is particularly the case when you have a model, who is likely to move between shots (though this can be minimized by using burst mode and exposure bracketing on the camera to take the two shots within a fraction of a second of each other). Jun 28 '16 at 16:36
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    This is a fine technique, but because there are other ways (like using flash to balance the ambient light) you should avoid using language that implies this is the only way: You would have to take two shots... Instead, offer it as an option: One way to do this is to take two shots and combine them...
    – Caleb
    Jun 28 '16 at 16:42
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    There are also programs that can automate the merging process for you (and potentially produce a better result than you'd get with Photoshop, if you're not particularly experienced with it). One (free) example is hugin (which actually relies on a bundled command-line tool called enfuse to do the actual merging), but the general term to Google for is exposure fusion. Jun 28 '16 at 16:57
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    The camera would have the option to use auto-bracketing (I believe upto 5 shots) so you could take the shots in very short succession making movement less of an issue. I believe the camera also has built in HDR capability using a series of 2 shots.
    – gtwebb
    Jun 28 '16 at 16:59

Do you want the short answer or the long one? Some viable options or the best one?

The long one.

I am worried here. There are toooooo many basic points on the question. So I am preparing a check list of points you must further investigate. I will just write a basic tip on each point.

No bokeh: What aperture gives bokeh and which not? Do not use a wide aperture. Small apertures more range of objects in focus.

What aperture is needed if the model is say 10 ft from your camera and the tunnel end is say 200 meters?: Aperture has nothing to do with this... Or probably yes if you are refering to the exact same thing as No bokeh.

If I use in-built flash, it takes a picture of model but then washes out the tunnel's: The flash does not do that. What is doing that is a bad exposure.

What is happening? If you turn on the built in flash, it reduces automaticly the shutter speed to 1/200. Period. If the exterior needs a shutter speed of 1/1000, now will be overexposed. So you need to adjust your ISO and aperture.

Some viable options

The most viable options is to use multiple exposures, for a Hdr technique.

I am totally against using the built in flash... It basicly sucks. You could put a modifier in front of it... but it stills sucks.

The correct one

As you have not a cheap camera... spend some more on an external flash (or two) and a remote trigger.

Aditionally buy a tripod for each flash and a difuser like an umbrella or a softbox. You can use an asistant and a sheet of paper. But an external fhash is a must.

The long one

Yo need to study the Exposure triangle, and how to balance diferent iluminants.

  • Nice one. +1. I liked the correct one and the third part of this answer. Thanks!
    – Maulik V
    Jun 30 '16 at 7:08

If you don't want bokeh, the first step is to find the aperture your lens produces sharp results for the model and the landscape in the distance. Something between 8 and 11 might be OK.

Depending on the light situation inside the tunnel you probably won't need full power output of your flash or none at all. This is something that really depends on the situation so I can only make assumptions, but flash compensation and EV are your best tools at hand.

Here's what I'd do:

If I don't want the background to be blown out, I expose for it's highlights and accept that the model's details will be lost in the dark when reviewing the shots (flash or not). Shooting raw allows me to recover quite a lot of detail in darker areas, whereas blown out highlights are rarely recoverable.

I had really great results deliberately under-exposing the subject and then recovering shadows in RawTherapee, producing images with quite some dynamic range.

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    In A exposure mode most Nikon DSLRs assume you want to use "slow shutter sync" with a dark scene and a flash. The problem with using this automated approach for this specific situation is that the metering is almost certainly going to try and expose the walls of the tunnel, not the light at the end of it, correctly. In fact, it sounds like that was what may have happened with the first option in the question.
    – Michael C
    Jun 28 '16 at 16:59

The essence of your problem is the high differential in brightness between the subject and the background. And you are forcing yourself to use a tight aperture to get the depth of field you want. Using a higher focal length lens and backing farther away from the subject will help with depth of field, but I know of only three solutions to the light differential issue:

  • Make the subject brighter by adding more light
  • Wait for different light conditions, like clouds, different sun angle or moonlight to alleviate the issue for you
  • Reduce the differential by applying neutral density (ND) filters and extend the exposure time (this works because "brightness" is logarithmic and ND filters are linear in their effect)

Since this is a tunnel with (presumably) daylit background, ND filters are likely not going to be practical. It's very difficult for a person to stand still enough to leave the shutter open for more than about 1/20 seconds and still have a crisp photo. To reduce the differential enough to equalize daylit background and a dark tunnel, you might need 9 or more stops of filter and minutes or longer of exposure time.

If there is no good time of day when the sun shines into the tunnel, bring your own lighting. That's what the pros do. <opinion>Flash is fine when you care more about seeing what is happening than you care about making it look nice. If it has to look nice, flash sucks, you need bulbs.</opinion>


Check to see if your Nikon uses the same flash metering algorithm as Canon - when set tot aperture-priority but with the flash on, the camera will sett he aperture & shutter speed to correctly expose the background (the outside of the tunnel in your case, but it might get confused if too much of the dark tunnel fills the scene) and uses the flash to expose the subject.

Note that this can cause long exposure times if the background is dark, so a tripod can be required.

This is basically the answer that Alaska Man gave - set the exposure for the background and set the flash power for the model - you just might be able to get the camera to do it for you.


You could try positioning the model near to the entrance of the tunnel in the sunlight and then use a long lens to fore-shorten the tunnel so the far end looks large behind them.

Also, consider what other light sources do you have available. Car headlights?


If you have too wide a range of EVs, and if you didn't have a set of flashes, I suggest you:

  • Make an HDR at 7 fps (or more) by using a tripod with a constant aperture value by using the bracketing option.
    Then you will be able to remove ghosts by using "photomatix pro" or another software.
  • With a tripod also, take a separate picture of the model in the tunnel and another picture by using the same aperture of the outside, then you will be able to deal with the 2 pictures in PS CS6 or CC...
  • Buy or rent a really good flash set (as http://www.bron.ch/broncolor/) :)

There are many possibilities to deal with this issue. Without more details, I cannot suggest you anything else. Please tell us more about the EV range...

A good HDR picture means that you cannot see that the picture is is an HDR...
Have fun!

  • I'm guessing English is not your native language. What do you mean by "IV" range values? Do you mean EV (exposure value)? In which case the word "values" again is redundant.
    – Michael C
    Jun 28 '16 at 16:55
  • Correct. Sorry for my English.
    – tatactic
    Jun 29 '16 at 10:58

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