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exposure
Hi all i've just progressed up to my first digi slr a canon 400d, and was seeking help on exposure settings, it's when you see photos with nice blue/white cloudy sky and perfectly exposed foreground I cant seem to grasp this it's either one or the other for me, i've tried meter readings for both and trying readings somewhere in between but still not good any help will be gratefully accepted ... thanks..

Comments (8)

You cannot expose for both the foreground and the sky. Normally the foreground is the most important area of the image and you expose for that and darken the sky, if necessary, in post processing..

However, you need to be careful that you don't "blow" the sky so that large areas are pure white with no detail. You can tell whether this has happened by looking at the histogram on the camera's LCD after you have taken the shot. If the histogram runs off the right edge you have blown highlights. If this occurs, try retaking the shot with a slightly lower exposure by adjusting EV. You will find out how much to adjust by trial and error..

If you have had to reduce the exposure because of blown highlights, you can re-adjust during post processing. This is easier to do if you shoot in RAW mode..

There are other techniques to handle scenes with a dynamic range that is larger than the camera can handle. One is to take several shots at different exposures and blend them together in post processing. This is normally referred to as HDR (High Dynamic Range) and there is software available to do it for you. If you shoot RAW you can sometimes get the same effect from a single RAW image processed once for shadows and once for highlights..

This is a very short explanation of a complex subject, so you might want to look for tutorials on the web or for a book.Chris R..

Comment #1

Chris R-UK wrote:.

You cannot expose for both the foreground and the sky. Normally theforeground is the most important area of the image and you expose forthat and darken the sky, if necessary, in post processing..

However, you need to be careful that you don't "blow" the sky so thatlarge areas are pure white with no detail. You can tell whether thishas happened by looking at the histogram on the camera's LCD afteryou have taken the shot. If the histogram runs off the right edgeyou have blown highlights. If this occurs, try retaking the shotwith a slightly lower exposure by adjusting EV. You will find outhow much to adjust by trial and error..

If you have had to reduce the exposure because of blown highlights,you can re-adjust during post processing. This is easier to do ifyou shoot in RAW mode..

There are other techniques to handle scenes with a dynamic range thatis larger than the camera can handle. One is to take several shotsat different exposures and blend them together in post processing.This is normally referred to as HDR (High Dynamic Range) and there issoftware available to do it for you. If you shoot RAW you cansometimes get the same effect from a single RAW image processed oncefor shadows and once for highlights..

This is a very short explanation of a complex subject, so you mightwant to look for tutorials on the web or for a book.Chris R.

There is another possibility. Shoot in light that doesn't exceed the dynamic range of the sensor. For instance shoot outdoors in the morning and evening with the sun over your shoulder. Granted, you can't always get your shot at those times. I think a beginner is well advised to learn what the possibilities of shooting in good, moderate dynamic range light can do for their photograph..

My main point is consider your lighting conditions and shoot in the best light possible...

Comment #2

A bright sky will be much brighter that a foreground subject (person, building, whatever). As you have seen, if you set the exposure correctly for the person's face, the sky behind will be over-exposed. if you meter off the sky, the person will appear almost as a silhouette with a very underexposed face..

You don't notice this normally because your eye adjusts all the time: if you look at the sky it 'stops down', and if you look at a shadowy area it opens up - effectively giving different parts of a scene different exposures so that they all look OK to you. A camera can't do that of course..

As another poster above suggested, you can alleviate this problem by not shooting your subjects against a background of bright sky whenever possible..

Best wishesMike..

Comment #3

Prostie wrote:.

Hi all i've just progressed up to my first digi slr a canon 400d,and was seeking help on exposure settings, it's when you see photoswith nice blue/white cloudy sky and perfectly exposed foreground icant seem to grasp this it's either one or the other for me, i'vetried meter readings for both and trying readings somewhere inbetween but still not good any help will be gratefully accepted ...thanks.

As described above, what you are running into is the limits of the dynamic range of the camera. Dynamic range is nothing more than the range between the two extremes of exposure, the light sky and the dark landscape. The range is pretty much limited to 8 stops in most digital cameras. Thus when the sky is exposed right the landscape isn't and visa versa..

The solution is to either bring one up to the other or the other down to the other..

You bring the landscape up by lighting it (generally not practical). Though fill flash for foreground objects is used all the time.You bring the sky down. To this end there are three methods..

1. A polarizer. This can reduce the brightness of the sky by anywhere from 1 to 2 stops and thus into the dynamic range of the camera. It only works in specific situations, mostly when the picture is taken in the morning or afternoon and at right angles to the sun..

2. A graduated neutral density filter. It's a filter that is darker at the top than the bottom. Thus darkening the sky while leaving the landscape alone..

3. Combining exposures. Usually from a tripod you take two photos, one where the sky is exposed correctly and one where the landscape is exposed correctly and then the two photos are combined..

A member of the rabble in good standing..

Comment #4

The bane of landscape photography is exactly that circumstance. HDR photography is the best but not the easiest way to handle such dynamic ranges..

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Comment #5

On sunny days, a polarizing filter usually will make the sky darker blue, and make the clouds stand out better, too..

If you have polarized sun glasses, take them out in the sun and hold them sideways, look through them, and rotate them..

See how the sky gets dfarker? Same thing with a camera and a polarizer..

A polarizer is built so that it rotates by twisting it with your fingers, so you can adjust theeffect, and use it for horizontal and vertical pictures..

BAK..

Comment #6

Hi thanks to you all for taking the time to respond and with your advice, have got a polariser and shall get grad filters so all it will be now is practice thanks again...

Comment #7

Keep in mind that a polarizer is only effective at certain angles to the sun. Pointed at the sun, or 180 degrees away from the sun, it has no effect on the sky. At 90 degrees from the sun it has maximum effect. You can get a better understanding from this photo - this was shot without a polarizer but you can see that the sky is darkest at that 90 degree point and fades out as you get farther away from that point..

Image control:Zoom outZoom 100%Zoom inExpand AllOpen in new window.

Some say polarizer skies are unnatural - in reality they are quite natural - polarizers don't alter sky color - they reveal it by eliminating interfering light. Think of a shiny car - reflecting the surrounding landscape - a polarizer will remove that reflection and reveal the true color of the car - same thing with the sky..

Prostie wrote:.

Hi thanks to you all for taking the time to respond and with youradvice, have got a polariser and shall get grad filters so all itwill be now is practice thanks again..

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Comment #8

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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