Correct exposure with bright skies

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Tim, Jun 28, 2007.

  1. Tim

    Tim Guest

    Hi
    Can anyone offer some basic advice or links about getting a decent exposure
    when the sky is overcast and glaring!

    I'm a noob pretty much so I tend to use too much guesswork!

    Here is a shot where the "interest" if I can be so bold has a lot to do with
    the sky so I tried not to burn it out too much, but the grass wasn't that
    dark, every time I try and lighten it up I start burning the sky out!
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/19643174@N00/631104443/

    Here the main subject is the planting so I let the sky blow out, is there a
    way round that at all? BTW it was a one off day trip so the going back when
    the light's better isn't really an option
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/19643174@N00/542799595/

    Am I kind of doing OK or am I making stoopid errors?

    Thanks for any tips

    Tim
    --
    http://www.timdenning.myby.co.uk/
    Tim, Jun 28, 2007
    #1
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  2. Tim wrote

    > Can anyone offer some basic advice or links about getting a decent
    > exposure when the sky is overcast and glaring!


    SLR ? Graduated Neutral Density filter

    P&S ? HDR composite

    Chris
    Chris Gilbert, Jun 28, 2007
    #2
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  3. On Jun 28, 8:01 am, "Tim" <no > wrote:
    > Hi
    > Can anyone offer some basic advice or links about getting a decent exposure
    > when the sky is overcast and glaring!
    >
    > I'm a noob pretty much so I tend to use too much guesswork!
    >
    > Here is a shot where the "interest" if I can be so bold has a lot to do with
    > the sky so I tried not to burn it out too much, but the grass wasn't that
    > dark, every time I try and lighten it up I start burning the sky out!http://www.flickr.com/photos/19643174@N00/631104443/
    >
    > Here the main subject is the planting so I let the sky blow out, is there a
    > way round that at all? BTW it was a one off day trip so the going back when
    > the light's better isn't really an optionhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/19643174@N00/542799595/
    >
    > Am I kind of doing OK or am I making stoopid errors?
    >
    > Thanks for any tips
    >
    > Tim
    > --http://www.timdenning.myby.co.uk/


    The problem is that the sky-even an overcast sky- is a source of
    light, while the grass and plantings are visible by reflected light.
    Because of limitations on dynamic range of print media, they cannot
    show this whole dynamic range. Thus, you must make the classic choice
    of the print photographer- let one end of the tonal range disappear,
    or reduce contrast (which can make the result look muddy).

    You can play with the exposure some, but never really solve the
    problem. Both film and digital cameras have far more dynamic range
    than prints. Projected images can help solve this dilemma, but of
    course not many of us want to lug a projector around everywhere we go.

    Another option is to have a lab print the file as a transparency, and
    display it with a light box, but that is expensive. Photographic
    transparencies have a lot more dynamic range than prints.

    There are, of course ways to capture high dynamic range images via
    photoshop and such, but this makes the printout/display problem even
    worse :-( We have to be resigned to the fact that print media only
    have about a 50:1 dynamic range. Even the deepest blacks, either
    photographic print or ink, have about a 2% reflectance.
    Don Stauffer in Minnesota, Jun 28, 2007
    #3
  4. Tim

    Marvin Guest

    Tim wrote:
    > Hi
    > Can anyone offer some basic advice or links about getting a decent exposure
    > when the sky is overcast and glaring!
    >
    > I'm a noob pretty much so I tend to use too much guesswork!
    >
    > Here is a shot where the "interest" if I can be so bold has a lot to do with
    > the sky so I tried not to burn it out too much, but the grass wasn't that
    > dark, every time I try and lighten it up I start burning the sky out!
    > http://www.flickr.com/photos/19643174@N00/631104443/
    >
    > Here the main subject is the planting so I let the sky blow out, is there a
    > way round that at all? BTW it was a one off day trip so the going back when
    > the light's better isn't really an option
    > http://www.flickr.com/photos/19643174@N00/542799595/
    >
    > Am I kind of doing OK or am I making stoopid errors?
    >
    > Thanks for any tips
    >
    > Tim

    Several image editors - including Paint shop Pro, the one I
    use - allow you to brighten the darker parts of a photo
    without washing out the brighter parts. The effect is
    similar to "dodging" in making prints from negatives, but a
    lot easier to do.
    Marvin, Jun 28, 2007
    #4
  5. Tim

    Steve B Guest

    "Marvin" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Tim wrote:
    >> Hi
    >> Can anyone offer some basic advice or links about getting a decent
    >> exposure when the sky is overcast and glaring!
    >>
    >> I'm a noob pretty much so I tend to use too much guesswork!
    >>
    >> Here is a shot where the "interest" if I can be so bold has a lot to do
    >> with the sky so I tried not to burn it out too much, but the grass wasn't
    >> that dark, every time I try and lighten it up I start burning the sky
    >> out!
    >> http://www.flickr.com/photos/19643174@N00/631104443/
    >>
    >> Here the main subject is the planting so I let the sky blow out, is there
    >> a way round that at all? BTW it was a one off day trip so the going back
    >> when the light's better isn't really an option
    >> http://www.flickr.com/photos/19643174@N00/542799595/
    >>
    >> Am I kind of doing OK or am I making stoopid errors?
    >>
    >> Thanks for any tips
    >>
    >> Tim

    > Several image editors - including Paint shop Pro, the one I use - allow
    > you to brighten the darker parts of a photo without washing out the
    > brighter parts. The effect is similar to "dodging" in making prints from
    > negatives, but a lot easier to do.


    That's quite a nice image, I think it's best to underexpose as you have done
    to retain the highlights, and if you want to brighten up the image nicely
    then something like the already mentioned Paint shop Pro's Fill Flash tool
    works wonders (I tried it) with one simple click.
    Steve B, Jun 28, 2007
    #5
  6. Tim

    Eric Miller Guest

    Tim wrote:
    > Hi
    > Can anyone offer some basic advice or links about getting a decent exposure
    > when the sky is overcast and glaring!
    >
    > I'm a noob pretty much so I tend to use too much guesswork!
    >
    > Here is a shot where the "interest" if I can be so bold has a lot to do with
    > the sky so I tried not to burn it out too much, but the grass wasn't that
    > dark, every time I try and lighten it up I start burning the sky out!
    > http://www.flickr.com/photos/19643174@N00/631104443/


    Just crop the bottom third and don't worry about the grass. This will
    get the horizon line out of the middle of the photo and lose some of the
    darker grass area anyway. Your exposure is fine. If you insist on not
    cropping, select a gradient create a new adjustment layer and lighten
    the grass until your heart is content.

    >
    > Here the main subject is the planting so I let the sky blow out, is there a
    > way round that at all? BTW it was a one off day trip so the going back when
    > the light's better isn't really an option
    > http://www.flickr.com/photos/19643174@N00/542799595/


    One of the ways of darkening the sky is to lighten the foreground. In
    this case, shooting with the sun to your back would have brightened the
    plants in relation to the sky, eliminated much of the glare on the
    plants and given you richer more saturated colors. Because the scene
    would have been more bright and the sky (the part away from the sun)
    more dark, some of your problem would have been alleviated. But, as you
    can't change position now, the shot shows that you did a good thing by
    showing as little of the blown out sky as possible. It's not a bad image
    as is.

    >
    > Am I kind of doing OK or am I making stoopid errors?
    >
    > Thanks for any tips
    >
    > Tim


    Gradient selections in Photoshop can assist in the lightening/darkening
    area.

    Here is an example using just an HDR method to darken the sky and
    lighten the foreground:

    http://www.photosig.com/go/photos/view?id=2009562

    Here is an example using gradient selections from the same multiple
    exposures:

    http://www.photosig.com/go/photos/view?id=2012900

    Eric Miller
    www.dyesscreek.com
    Eric Miller, Jun 28, 2007
    #6
  7. Tim wrote:
    > Hi
    > Can anyone offer some basic advice or links about getting a decent exposure
    > when the sky is overcast and glaring!
    >
    > I'm a noob pretty much so I tend to use too much guesswork!
    >
    > Here is a shot where the "interest" if I can be so bold has a lot to do with
    > the sky so I tried not to burn it out too much, but the grass wasn't that
    > dark, every time I try and lighten it up I start burning the sky out!
    > http://www.flickr.com/photos/19643174@N00/631104443/
    >
    > Here the main subject is the planting so I let the sky blow out, is there a
    > way round that at all? BTW it was a one off day trip so the going back when
    > the light's better isn't really an option
    > http://www.flickr.com/photos/19643174@N00/542799595/
    >
    > Am I kind of doing OK or am I making stoopid errors?
    >
    > Thanks for any tips
    >
    > Tim


    The latest versions of Photoshop have an automatic picture combiner. You
    shoot the same scene with, say, 3-5 exposures of different exposure
    value. You should change the shutter speed, not the aperture. Some
    cameras will do this automatically for you. All parts of the scene are
    properly exposed on at least one of the images, and Photoshop combines
    them to take advantage of this. I've seen some spectacular sunset
    pictures done this way, though there is somewhat of a artificial
    appearance to the final picture. The real world just doesn't look they
    was do.

    All this may be too much trouble, but you have some other, simpler ways
    of making a reasonable compromise in the other posts.

    Joe
    Joseph Miller, Jun 28, 2007
    #7
  8. Tim

    Garry Knight Guest

    Chris Gilbert wrote:

    > Tim wrote
    >
    >> Can anyone offer some basic advice or links about getting a decent
    >> exposure when the sky is overcast and glaring!

    >
    > SLR ? Graduated Neutral Density filter


    Tim: This will also work with some bridge cameras, such as the Canon S3is.
    And on sunny days, a polarizing filter will even out the sky light for a
    better balance as well as giving you richer colours, but at the expense of
    a couple of stops (don't worry if you don't know what this means, the
    camera usually takes care of it for you; time enough to learn later).

    --
    Garry Knight
    Garry Knight, Jun 28, 2007
    #8
  9. Tim

    Mike Russell Guest

    "Tim" <no > wrote in message
    news:JiOgi.13205$...
    > Hi
    > Can anyone offer some basic advice or links about getting a decent
    > exposure when the sky is overcast and glaring!
    >
    > I'm a noob pretty much so I tend to use too much guesswork!
    >
    > Here is a shot where the "interest" if I can be so bold has a lot to do
    > with the sky so I tried not to burn it out too much, but the grass wasn't
    > that dark, every time I try and lighten it up I start burning the sky out!
    > http://www.flickr.com/photos/19643174@N00/631104443/
    >
    > Here the main subject is the planting so I let the sky blow out, is there
    > a way round that at all? BTW it was a one off day trip so the going back
    > when the light's better isn't really an option
    > http://www.flickr.com/photos/19643174@N00/542799595/
    >
    > Am I kind of doing OK or am I making stoopid errors?


    Nothing stupid about it - it's one of the oldest puzzles in photography, and
    was thought to be unsolvable in the early days of blue sensitive emulsions.
    As time passed, with better black and white emulsions, various colored and
    graduated filters were used to selectively darken the sky. Now that we are
    using color, and digital to boot, the problem of blown out skies is back
    again in force. Skies are generally too bright, and this is one area where
    color correction after the fact can help enormously.

    Since no one has yet mentioned using curves, here's my take at the first of
    your two images, using curves and a bit of sharpening to bring out the grass
    without losing the action in the sky:
    http://mike.russell-home.net/tmp/bristol/

    Other techniques include using a mask to correct sky and foreground
    separately, or making multiple exposures, and combining them, using masks or
    HDR techniques.
    --
    Mike Russell - www.curvemeister.com
    Mike Russell, Jun 29, 2007
    #9
  10. Tim

    Tim Guest

    Thanks to everyone who took the time to look at the pictures and comment.
    It's nice to know that I'm not doing anything "wrong" particularly :)



    A grad filter might be a good start, I'll do some research thanks



    Also looks as though I'm going to have to get much better acquainted with PS
    etc! Understanding curves and masks is one thing, getting the damn
    information to stick in my head so it's second nature is another :-(



    Thanks again



    Tim

    --
    http://www.timdenning.myby.co.uk/
    Tim, Jun 29, 2007
    #10
  11. Tim

    Robert Coe Guest

    On Thu, 28 Jun 2007 13:01:29 GMT, "Tim" <no > wrote:
    : Hi
    : Can anyone offer some basic advice or links about getting a decent exposure
    : when the sky is overcast and glaring!
    :
    : I'm a noob pretty much so I tend to use too much guesswork!
    :
    : Here is a shot where the "interest" if I can be so bold has a lot to do with
    : the sky so I tried not to burn it out too much, but the grass wasn't that
    : dark, every time I try and lighten it up I start burning the sky out!
    : http://www.flickr.com/photos/19643174@N00/631104443/

    I don't know why you'd want to change that one. The almost monochromatic
    effect contributes to the picture. So what if the grass wasn't that dark? You
    need the dark grass to highlight the building.

    : Here the main subject is the planting so I let the sky blow out, is there a
    : way round that at all? BTW it was a one off day trip so the going back when
    : the light's better isn't really an option
    : http://www.flickr.com/photos/19643174@N00/542799595/

    Here the haze doesn't help the picture; maybe a UV or skylight filter would
    have cut it down. If the skylight filter warmed the image too much, you could
    correct the color temperature later. Or given the apparent position of the
    sun, maybe a polarizer would have helped.

    Bob
    Robert Coe, Jul 4, 2007
    #11
  12. Tim

    Tim Guest

    > On Thu, 28 Jun 2007 13:01:29 GMT, "Tim" <no > wrote:
    >> Hi
    >> Can anyone offer some basic advice or links about getting a decent
    >> exposure when the sky is overcast and glaring!
    >>
    >> I'm a noob pretty much so I tend to use too much guesswork!
    >>
    >> Here is a shot where the "interest" if I can be so bold has a lot to
    >> do with the sky so I tried not to burn it out too much, but the
    >> grass wasn't that dark, every time I try and lighten it up I start
    >> burning the sky out!
    >> http://www.flickr.com/photos/19643174@N00/631104443/

    >
    > I don't know why you'd want to change that one. The almost
    > monochromatic effect contributes to the picture. So what if the grass
    > wasn't that dark? You need the dark grass to highlight the building.
    >
    >> Here the main subject is the planting so I let the sky blow out, is
    >> there a way round that at all? BTW it was a one off day trip so the
    >> going back when the light's better isn't really an option
    >> http://www.flickr.com/photos/19643174@N00/542799595/

    >
    > Here the haze doesn't help the picture; maybe a UV or skylight filter
    > would have cut it down. If the skylight filter warmed the image too
    > much, you could correct the color temperature later. Or given the
    > apparent position of the sun, maybe a polarizer would have helped.
    >
    > Bob


    Thanks for the reply Bob




    The first shot was with a 10-20 zoom which I don't have any filters for at
    the moment, I've read about the issues with circular polarizers on wide
    angle lenses but I guess a UV one might be worth looking at.



    The second shot was taken with the 18-70 kit lens, I had a circular
    polarizer on the lens for a while but stopped using it when I started using
    the lens hood more, it's pretty fiddly trying to turn the filter when it's
    buried inside a hood. so I might give a UV filter a go on this one too,
    nothing to loose bar a few more pounds :)



    Cheers



    Tim


    --
    http://www.timdenning.myby.co.uk/
    Tim, Jul 7, 2007
    #12
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