Need some help with exposure

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by soLoredd, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. soLoredd macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2007
    Location:
    California
    #1
    I have a question about exposing a shot when shooting into light. Here is an example:

    [​IMG]

    One thing for sure, I need to get into the habit of using the histogram. Would using exposure lock on the subject (Half Dome in this case) have helped? Or is the lighting in this particular case just not good? Fortunately, Yosemite is an hour and a half drive but I am practicing for trips to Europe where I do not want to come home with shots like this!

    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #2
    This is a difficult lighting situation. I'd probably spot-meter on Half-Dome, but then you're going to blow out the sky (you might want to underexpose a bit in that case so you can attempt to recover the highlights). If you're shooting from a tripod you could always try combining multiple shots taken at different exposures into an HDR image - but I personally think those end up looking obvious and unnatural.

    The traditional way to handle this would be to use a graduated neutral density filter. Positioning it correctly might be a challenge, though, given the "shape" of the sky in this particular photo.

    I got it! What you really need is a ginormous fill-flash. :D
     
  3. rouxeny macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2008
    #3
    Agreed, that's a tough lighting situation. Your choices are either a graduated ND filter or HDR. Obviously, some people don't really like the non-classical look of HDR, but I personally think a lot of the HDR work we see has been intentionally overdone to emphasize the "arty" look. I am starting to see HDR more and more in newsprint and magazines and for some reason it seems really popular in the real-estate world. Depending on how it's done, it can look pretty natural.

    You're lucky to live that close to Yosemite.

    I guess another option is to use layers in Photoshop to merge a correctly exposed sky with another shot that has correctly exposed mountains. I don't know how to do that and it seems like it'd be a pain, but it would probably be the most "natural."
     
  4. soLoredd thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 12, 2007
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    California
    #4
    Thanks for the replies thus far. I actually did do a 3 shot exposure bracket of -1, 0, +1 just for kicks. Here is a quick process through Photomatix.

    [​IMG]


    I'm not really versed on producing HDR images but it doesn't look terrible. Definitely better detail and overall appearance from the original photo I posted. I'll have to give a go with one of those filters, sounds like it does exactly what is needed. :)
     
  5. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #5
    I always think HDR looks terrible, and that example is no exception. Sorry.


    However, if I was in that situation, I'd probably do it anyway. It's your only option. Shoot in RAW, use spot meter on the trees or whatever, and dial exposure down -1 EV. That's what I'd do. You'd probably expose the trees enough so that you can brighten up those areas later without making it look weird. You may also save the sky from being completely blown out.
     
  6. soLoredd thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    I'm in the same boat, I'm not a fan of HDR. I will admit there is a place for it and some people do a great job utilizing it but it isn't for me. No need for apologizing :)

    I'm thinking to do as you said and exposing for the darker area of the scene and brightening up later. I did try to take the original, 0 exp photo and made some adjustments to it but it didn't look sharp and natural - there was too much compromising to get the dark area brighter. It might have been easier to make the sky darker.
     
  7. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #7
    Well actually, the sky is probably more difficult to make darker. There's just more dynamic range in darker areas than lighter, so there may be more information to "save". That's why I would use spot meter and expose so that what you're interested in is -1 EV. Perhaps I'd just spot meter and not adjust anything. It would depend on what I see in my LCD, and the histogram.


    And if you're using matrix metering, stop doing it for scenes like this. ;)
     
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #8
    I agree. Looks fake.

    But I don't think it looks fake because it is an HDR. HDRs look fake because they are done "hands off" by an automatic process. That is why HDR is so popular now: Because you can just let some point and click filter do all the thinking.

    What I'd do is find one of the exposures that has the shy "right" and another that has the foreground "right" and them go into Photoshop and make a mask by selecting the sky, clean it up some then use the mask to composit the two. That way every pixel in the image is "real".

    How to expose? If you intend to composite them in PS take two shots but if you want just one that is "right" you have to expose "as much as you can without blowing any highlights. Use the histogram. Landscapes will wait wail you look. If the horizon were a bit straighter you could use a graduated neutral density filters. These are dark on top and clear on the bottom and many of then are rectangular so you can adjust the higher o the line. they come is varies strengths and with a sharp or fuzzy line. uy a few if you are going to be shooting many landscapes

    But here is the real "pro" tip: Wait for the light to be "right". Just pass on the shot and do something else. Half Dome will be there next time. I think tha is aalways the best tip, just don't take the shoot if it's not good.

    Ansel Adams back when he did his work in Yosemeite lived in the Valley and knew how the weather worked and would wait days and weeks for a shot and then he's set up and wait for the clouds, sun and everything to be just right. Doing this times time.
     
  9. Doylem macrumors 68040

    Doylem

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    #9
    You beat me to it... :)

    I'm always amazed that people will spend hours in front of a computer, trying to 'repair' pix in Photoshop... but they're not patient enough to wait for the light to become 'interesting'...
     
  10. soLoredd thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 12, 2007
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    California
    #10
    Ok, I agree with the advice on waiting for the right moment. I am perfectly in tune with that and I do have the patience to wait.

    However, there are situations where you don't have all the time in the world. If I were to go to some place for a once in a lifetime trip, trying to save a photo from what you have is all you can do. I would rather not "sit in front of a computer and repair pictures" but if I took that one trip to that one place I probably would never go to again, I want to make sure I can get the best out of it.

    Or maybe I am being irrational and it is what it is :p
     

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