Exposing Clouds

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by HomeingPigeon, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. HomeingPigeon macrumors regular

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    Aug 1, 2007
    #1
    I was trying to take some landscapes today on the Olympic Peninsula and it was cloudy. When I would expose for the clouds everything else was really dark. But when I exposed for everything else the clouds were just flat and white. How do I split the difference? If it helps I can upload the pictures later.
     
  2. valdore macrumors 65816

    valdore

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  3. djbahdow01 macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    HDR is a good option, but if you aren't used to doing it it normally won't come out the way you want. Before HDR you would use a Graduated Neutral Density filter, a little bit more work as you would need multiple filters to work with.
     
  4. HomeingPigeon thread starter macrumors regular

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    #4
    Is there a free way to HDR a picture or do I have to pay for a program to do that? That seems like the easiest way right now.
     
  5. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #5
    If you have an editing program, edit in your own ND filter. ;) An ND filter is the best idea, really.
     
  6. cdcastillo macrumors 6502a

    cdcastillo

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    #6
    There is a free tool for personal use, just can't remember the name of it. Wait, I have it on the backup drive at home. Tomorrow I'll check and post it.
     
  7. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #7
    In most situations HDR is an overly complex solution, IMO, to a basic photographic pronblem. As others have said, the grey grad filter is the photographer's friend. Grey - not coloured - to bring out the colour already in the clouds, and grad to reduce the brightness of the sky.

    I love photographing clouds (not on their own, but as part of a composition), so I spend a lot of time looking at them. Dirty job... but someone's got to do it. ;)

    The clouds that 'look' best in photots tend to be this kind of cumulous cloud, with plenty of grey in them and a three-demensional look to them. They often don't need any filterintg at all.

    Here's a shot from yesterday...

    [​IMG]
     
  8. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #8
    HDR is overkill, it's easy to fix that in your image editing app of choice. HDR is total overkill.
     
  9. cdcastillo macrumors 6502a

    cdcastillo

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    #9
    Finally home...

    So here it is:

    FDR Tools, basic version (free).

    http://www.fdrtools.com/

    Hope you like it.
     
  10. pinktank macrumors 6502

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    Apr 5, 2005
    #10
    HDR, in the popular sense of the word, is definitely unneccessary, if you use photoshop or elements, or gimp for that matter, you can make an adjustment layer with a gradient mask that will darken the skies for you
     
  11. santa macrumors member

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    Sep 2, 2003
    #11
    gnd

    a graduated neutral density filter is useful here. as would be shooting raw and developing two different exposures and combining them. hdr is an option.
     
  12. bocomo macrumors 6502

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    #12


    i agree, this is your best bet. also try Shadow/Highlights adjustment in Photoshop or Elements. works like a charm if you don't have blown out highlights


    HDR likely wouldn't be a great solution as the rest of the scene (low dynamic range areas) will look strange and need fixing.
     
  13. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Redondo Beach, California
    #13
    How do to edit images now? Any image editor can make an HDR. HDR is not magic. It is just a simple mask and composite. Yes there are now totally automated HDR software, (hence the current flood of people doing HDR) But all you need to do is take two exposure and composite them together using something like Photoshop Elements, CS3 or Gimp. (Gimp is free)

    Put you may not need to do this. Most camera will have a blinking light or red on the LCD screen where the highlights are blown. Shoot a few test shots and use the greatest exposure you can that does not blow out highlights in clouds. If you lleave just a spec of blown highlights then you've "split the difference" as best as is possible for your camera and that scene.

    Thinking like a traditional black and white film photographer, what you are aiming to do is place the lighter parts of the clouds on the whitest shade that is not "paper white". With digital, because of it's very narrow dynamic range compared to film it you do this you will block out some shadow areas. You can either accept this or take another exposure and make a composite later using Photoshop.

    The other faster, simply option is to buy a neutral density gradient filter. The best ones are rectangular and you can move them up and down to place the line where needed. It is always best if you can get it right inside the camera. If you are lucky and the sun angle is right, then a polierizing filter can help. See if using one will darken the sky for you butit depends on the light angle, it will not work on sunsets.

    The other option is to buy a film body and use that for your landscape work. You can find good ones for about $100 now.
     
  14. iBallz macrumors 6502

    iBallz

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    So. Utah
    #14
    Here's my overkilled HDR of clouds. This pic is of nothing really, just liked the clouds that day.

    [​IMG]
     

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