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How do i get detailed skies?
Hi all, Can someone help me to maintain detail in my skies please. If I shoot in raw and ensure via the histogram that there is no highlight clipping will I be able to bring detail out in pp. I'm a complete novice to pp, what do I do to darken the sky only. I dont really want to mess around with filters, I'm not looking for drama particularly, I just want the sky to look in my pictures the way they looked to my eyes. BTW, I have a nikon D50, I dont actually have any pp software I will probably get elements 6 when it becomes available for mac.thanksmarc..

Comments (15)

Gooner74 wrote:.

Hi all, Can someone help me to maintain detail in my skies please. IfI shoot in raw and ensure via the histogram that there is nohighlight clipping will I be able to bring detail out in pp. I'm acomplete novice to pp, what do I do to darken the sky only. I dontreally want to mess around with filters, I'm not looking for dramaparticularly, I just want the sky to look in my pictures the way theylooked to my eyes. BTW, I have a nikon D50, I dont actually have anypp software I will probably get elements 6 when it becomes availablefor mac.thanksmarc.

You are on the right lines. But if the sky is very bright and you are taking a photo of something in the shade - and expose correctly for the shade - there is nothing you can do; the sky will be completely blown. Conversely, if you expose the sky directly, (i.e. a very short exposure) you will lose all shadows which will be black. There is not a lot you can do about this if the dynamic range of the scene (difference in brightess between lightest and darkest parts) exceeds what your camera can record..

But assuming the problem isn't too bad, try and ensure that you don't 'blow' the sky by reducing the exposure to stop clipping it. (This may make shadows very underexposed). Then, in PS elements, you can simply use the 'darken highlights' slider which does what it says (there is also a 'lighten shadows' tool to selectively lighten the dark areas). Or you could select the sky (lassoo tool or magic wand tool), feather the edges of the selection to 'fade in' the transition, and reduce the brightness of the selected area..

You can download free trials of software form the adobe website. I wanted to have a look at PSE6 for Mac but as you say it isn't out yet. But you can download the full version of CS3 free for a 30 day trial, if you have a fast internet connection... it's big!.

Good luckMike..

Comment #1

Thanks Mike, much appreciated. I have been looking into photomatix, maybe creating 3 tiffs from 1 raw and then blend them, dont know how well this will work though. Or take 2 photos 1 exposed for the sky and one for the ground and use layers??? I saw a video of someone doing this, putting the light layer on top of the dark layer then kinda rubbing out the lighter sky so that the dark sky came through!!! Man this pp stuff is gonna be a heluva learning curve marc..

Comment #2

Mike703 wrote:.

You are on the right lines. But if the sky is very bright and youare taking a photo of something in the shade - and expose correctlyfor the shade - there is nothing you can do; the sky will becompletely blown. Conversely, if you expose the sky directly, (i.e.a very short exposure) you will lose all shadows which will be black.There is not a lot you can do about this if the dynamic range of thescene (difference in brightess between lightest and darkest parts)exceeds what your camera can record..

Mike.

In this case use a graduated filterhttp://www.great-landscape-photography.com/graduated-filters.htmlPaul.

Oops, sorry, didn't read the bit about not wanting to use filters..

Comment #3

Blended Exposures.

 Achieving an 8-10 Stop Dynamic Range .

"Most landscape photographers, myself included, use split neutral density filters to bring the dynamic range of a scene down to the range that film can handle. Occasionally I've found myself without a set of split NDs, faced with a challenging exposure. Below is one such example and the technique that I used to overcome it.".

Http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/blended_exposures.shtml.

Understanding Digital Blendinghttp://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/digital-blending.shtml.

Bill Jr'I kind of like the Earth, it's where I keep all my Stuff.'Website; http://www.pbase.com/wboth125 Lake Wylie, SC..

Comment #4

Gooner74 wrote:.

Or take 2 photos 1 exposed for the skyand one for the ground and use layers??? I saw a video of someonedoing this, putting the light layer on top of the dark layer thenkinda rubbing out the lighter sky so that the dark sky camethrough!!!.

IMO, that is the best way to do it. It think it looks the most natural and better simulates how our eyes will render the scene (the eyeball/brain has their own 'darken highlights' routine)..

Just make sure you don't have any hard edges where you erase (try using an eraser with the opacity set at 10%, 25% or 50%. Experiment around...

Comment #5

If you were willing to use filters, the classic ones to dramatize skies are polarizers for color and a red for black and white film. Or neutral density it the sky is too bright..

Nowadays, I usually do it in Photoshop CS3. The key to enhancing detail in skies is to darken the blue while keeping the clouds white. The most realistic way of doing this recognizes that of the three color channels in blue skies, red will be the darkest while blue will be nearly white..

The Photoshop CS3 workflow is this:- Layer -> Duplicate Layer...- Image -> Apply Image... (Channel: Red, Blending: Darken)- Go to the Layers palette and change Normal to Luminosity- Adjust Opacity to taste..

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

These are just the very basic steps! Other parts of the image could be affected, so you may want to do some sort of masking. Digital noise in the sky may also be a problem, but these steps ought to get you started...

Comment #6

You don't want to use a filter, but you'll spend an hour messing around with a computer?.

Anyway, the best way to get good skies on a sunny day is to use a polarizer..

It's like wearing polarized sun glasses; the sky gets darker and more blue, the clouds stand out, and all the other colors remain normal..

The filter consists of a moving ring/glass inside a stationary ring..

Put the polarizer on the lens, screw the whole thing in so it does not fall off, and then turn the inner part of the ring until the sky gets better..

BAK..

Comment #7

The only reason I dont wanna use filters, is because I mainly photograph during backpacking trips around various parts of the world (I head to western europe this summer on a interrailing trip ). I prefer to take as little stuff as possible and with the arrival of the DP1, if it's everything it's cracked up to be then it will be accompaying me this summer. Although I understand that it's important to get as much right as possible at point of capture, I don't mind spending an hour or so in front of a computer while my girlfriend watches bloody big brother .

Just one question about the blending technique, thanks for the tutorial by the way, do you absolutely need a tripod for this, the photos in the post didn't seem to match although the end product was fine. I believe you need a tripod for hdr which is why I mentioned pseudo-hdr from one raw instead.Anyhow thanks once again to everyone...much appreciated.marc..

Comment #8

On my nikon D50 should I set my camera for sRGB or Adobe RGB. My handbook says that the latter is better for pp work, would this help when working on my skies? Does it even matter if I only shoot raw?thanksmarc..

Comment #9

The colorspace only applies to JPEG files, although Nikon's RAW reader will honor the camera's setting. You can set the color space as you want in the RAW conversion software..

Which colorspace to use is a matter of some controversy, but if you will display images on the Web only, then use sRGB. If you will make prints, use AdobeRGB or an even wider colorspace so that the prints will have better color...

Comment #10

Skies come in beautiful if you click autolevels in Photoshop. That is the only thing that really does it. I guess you could play around with the levels function, but Autolevels really does it, and quickly.It's not what you spend, it's what you buy!..

Comment #11

Thanks Jim, sounds quick and easy. Just how Ilike it ..

Comment #12

Place the sun off of your shoulder(90 Degree angle).

Just try looking at teh sky, sun behind your back, sun front, sun off to one side, se how it looks to your own eyes..

Looks even better to a camera..

Bg thing is this, we can see 10 stops of light. Camera can see about 7 , effectively..

Some truly great photographers would wait until the range of viewable light got down to 5 stops before they would even take a landscape shot , that incuded the sky.Dave PattersonMidwestshutterbug.com'When the light and composition are strong, nobodynotices things like resolution or pincushion distortion'Gary Friedman..

Comment #13

Thanks Dave, I had heard about this, I think polarizers work better at an angle too??.

The only problem is when your backpacking you basically have to make do with what you get, coz I only spend 2 or 3 days max in one place. Although, what is the best time of day for landscapes, early morning, early evening? I guess if there was a particular shot I wanted I could make an effort to get up early.cheersmarc..

Comment #14

Thanks Jim, sounds quick and easy. Just how Ilike it .

It is... but sometimes (often) 'auto levels' does weird things to the colour as it tries to normalise those as well as shadow / highlight detail.Best wishesMike..

Comment #15

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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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