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Blinking Highlights
A real beginner's question here, so apologies in advance. Still getting used to my D300 and DSLR photography in general and I note that when I review photo's on the lcd it indicates blinking highlights in some of my shots..

I'm assuming this means I have overexposed areas in the shot and that I should adjust the settings on the camera to a point where I do not get blinking highlights, is this a correct assumption?.

If so, can anyone offer advice on what areas I should be looking at to achieve this? Again, I assume using exposure compensation would be one method dialing it down suffient not to get the highlights, but then how does one ensure that the rest of the shot is not underexposed?.

Any help would be greatly appreciated..

Regards.

Alan Schenk..

Comments (17)

The histogram when reviewing should be your main check - to have the pixel graph distributed within the chart without piling up on the right (overexposure) but aiming to have more to the right of centre then to the left (more data in the right hand section than in the others put together as far as I know)..

Where the pixels reach on the left hand side will tell you whether there's a danger of underexposure..

Alex.

Http://alexandjustine.smugmug.com/..

Comment #1

Alex has some good advise about shooting "to the right" without overexposing. That'll give you the most data to work with in post processing..

Sometimes though, there's just too much of a difference between the brightest and darkest parts of a scene to be captured in a single exposure. So you either sacrifice highlights, shadows, or maybe a little of both. A popular trick these days is to make a several exposures of a scene to capture all highlight and shadow detail, then merge them all together to make one final image that shows detail from the darkest shadow to the brightest highlight. Search the term HDR photography to learn more about the technique..

'I reject your reality and substitute my own' -Adam Savagehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/mrnoronha/sets/..

Comment #2

Your assumptions are exactly correct: you are seeing the areas where there is no highlight detail that are bright white. If you look at the histogram you will see a 'wall' at the right hand end..

Often this indicates overexposure, in which case just dial in negative exposure compensation until the histogram looks OK (just touching the right and left hand extremes with no cutoff)..

However you may need to leave those areas overexposed if they are really very bright. Suppose you are taking a picture of someone wearing a white shirt in the sun. You expose for the face (correctly). the areas of the white shirt that catch the sun may well be 'blown', and if you reduce the exposure to get detail in the shirt, the face will be much too dark. What's more important? Get the face right.... and next time wait for a cloud, or ask the subject to wear a darker shirt.



Best wishesMike..

Comment #3

Most has already been said but note that the blinking highlights mean the area MAY have been overexposed. Not having a D300 I cannot help with how prone to hysteria those blinking highlights are!.

If you shoot RAW you have some chance of recovering blown highlights. Both the blinking highlights and the histogram are based on the jpeg built into the NEF..

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #4

Mike703 wrote:.

However you may need to leave those areas overexposed if they arereally very bright. Suppose you are taking a picture of someonewearing a white shirt in the sun. You expose for the face(correctly). the areas of the white shirt that catch the sun maywell be 'blown', and if you reduce the exposure to get detail in theshirt, the face will be much too dark. What's more important? Getthe face right.... and next time wait for a cloud, or ask the subjectto wear a darker shirt.



Thanks Mike for this. I note that most of my "blown" highlights were backlit indoor shots where I chose to use available light rather than a fill-flash, just looks more natural in my opinion (also could be my flash technique of course), the downside being a strong dynamic range that the sensors cannot handle. Obviously a good candidate for shooting RAW+JPEG and using PP when required...

Comment #5

Chris Elliott wrote:.

If you shoot RAW you have some chance of recovering blown highlights.Both the blinking highlights and the histogram are based on the jpegbuilt into the NEF..

Thanks Chris for the tip on shooting RAW. I'm only shooting in JPEG at the moment and as I prefer to use available light I'm either coming across blown highlights in backlit situations or a good deal of noise in low light situations. Both candidates for RAW and PP I suspect. I need to get to grips with Capture NX!..

Comment #6

USACanuck wrote:.

Sometimes though, there's just too much of a difference between thebrightest and darkest parts of a scene to be captured in a singleexposure. So you either sacrifice highlights, shadows, or maybe alittle of both. A popular trick these days is to make a severalexposures of a scene to capture all highlight and shadow detail, thenmerge them all together to make one final image that shows detailfrom the darkest shadow to the brightest highlight. Search the termHDR photography to learn more about the technique..

Thanks for this, I wasn't aware too much of actually what HDR was all about and obviously this is one way of overcoming the limitations presented by the sensor (maybe one day they will be sensitive enough to handle extreme dynamic ranges!)...

Comment #7

Alex Leach wrote:.

The histogram when reviewing should be your main check - to have thepixel graph distributed within the chart without piling up on theright (overexposure) but aiming to have more to the right of centrethen to the left (more data in the right hand section than in theothers put together as far as I know)..

Where the pixels reach on the left hand side will tell you whetherthere's a danger of underexposure..

Thanks Alex. The whole histogram things looks like a black art at the moment, but I've picked up a couple of good books today to help me through this to better understand how it works and what I should be looking for...

Comment #8

On the D200, while shooting RAW, you can blend two images in camera. Shoot one for the highlights and one for the shadows, and blend. Check your manual to see if Nikon have retained that functionality on the D300. It's not the best alternative, but bears looking into...

Comment #9

Alan Schenk wrote:.

Alex Leach wrote:.

The histogram when reviewing should be your main check - to have thepixel graph distributed within the chart without piling up on theright (overexposure) but aiming to have more to the right of centrethen to the left (more data in the right hand section than in theothers put together as far as I know)..

Where the pixels reach on the left hand side will tell you whetherthere's a danger of underexposure..

Thanks Alex. The whole histogram things looks like a black art at themoment, but I've picked up a couple of good books today to help methrough this to better understand how it works and what I should belooking for..

The basics from Thom Hogan's excellent Nikon site (worth reading):.

Http://www.bythom.com/histogram.htm.

Alex.

Http://alexandjustine.smugmug.com/..

Comment #10

Alan Schenk wrote:.

I'm assuming this means I have overexposed areas in the shot and thatI should adjust the settings on the camera to a point where I do notget blinking highlights, is this a correct assumption?.

Depends on what those highlights are. Light sources such as headlights, street lamps etc. usually get blown - and are supposed to. Specular highlights - small reflections on metal etc. - are similar. There is not much point in trying to prevent these types of highlight from blowing out, as this will usually result in an overall underexposed photo, without you gaining much actual detail, texture or tonality in the highlights..

However, if the blinking - blown - highlights indicate areas where you want some texture (eg white fabric) or tonality (eg white clouds), then yes, you will want to adjust the exposure until they stop blinking..

Then how does one ensure that the rest of the shot is notunderexposed?.

One way is to enable D-lighting on your D300. Active D-lighting before capture, or plain old D-lighting post capture. Or simply bring up the shadows in pp, using the Shadow slider in the Highlight/Shadow Photoshop dialog box...

Comment #11

Http://www.luminous-landscape.com/...ng-series/understanding-histograms.shtml.

Http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/histograms1.htm.

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #12

Alan Schenk wrote:.

(maybe one day they will be sensitive enough to handle extreme dynamicranges!)..

Yes, one day they will. And then everyone will be complaining that their images look too flat. .

'Here, look at the monkey. Look at the silly monkey!'.

Tom Younghttp://www.pbase.com/tyoung/..

Comment #13

I wasn't aware you could do that in camera with the D200 How is the blendng done?? I usually do that in photoshop but would like to ty it in camera,Buzz..

Comment #14

You can also do it with the D80 - P.114 in the D80 manual. You combine two RAW images with some ability to change the EV of each. They do not have to be identical shots to give HDR. The illustration in the manual shows filling the frame with two different firework displays..

Chris Elliott.

*Nikon* D Eighty + Fifty - Other equipment in Profile.

Http://PlacidoD.Zenfolio.com/..

Comment #15

It's called Image Overlay, and can be found on pages 84 & 85 of the D200 manual...

Comment #16

Don't know where my manual is guess I will have the downioad the ebook from nikon.ThanksBuzz..

Comment #17

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