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DPChallenge Forums >> General Discussion >> Landscapes and Over Exposed Skies
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10/27/2005 01:07:13 PM · #1
I see alot of beautiful photos with cloud details on this site, however whenever I try to shoot a landscape, I usually get a blownout sky.
Ans the only way i know to fix that is to shoot two pics, one underexposed by three stops and one metered for the sky and use PS to merge them both and get a superimposed image with details on the sky/clouds and landscape. My question is, is there any other way to do this straight from the camera?
Thanks in advance
10/27/2005 01:08:13 PM · #2
graduated density filter
10/27/2005 01:08:45 PM · #3
If the transition between light and dark is fairly level (straight line) then you could use graduated ND (Neutral Density) filters.
10/27/2005 01:12:49 PM · #4
If you shoot in RAW format, you can process the image twice. Adjust one to get the highlights, the other for the shadows, then merge the two as if they were the two images you described first.

You can also try and retain the highlights, and then use Curves through a graduated mask to bring out the shadows, in a rough simulation of the effect of a graduated ND filter.
10/27/2005 01:26:58 PM · #5
I keep seeing these recommendations to use a graduated neutral density filter, and in a sense it perplexes me. I've been shooting all my life, and have never used one. A lot of the time, when one IS used, it looks highly artificial. Plus it really only works well where the horizon is a straight line...

A better suggestion is to use a polarizing filter, which will often (but not always) solve the problem. You should definitely be shooting in RAW where you anticipate this being a problem,a nd you should definitely be bracketing exposures, especially if you don't/won't use RAW.

Additionally, if you use Photoshop CS2 the shadow/highlight adjustment feature works wonders. If you have an earlier version, the "cntrl-alt-tilde" contrast masking technique accomplishes about the same thing. It's a basic part of my workflow. If you need info on it let me know.

Robt.
10/27/2005 01:41:32 PM · #6
Thank you all for the comments and ideas, Bear-music does the type of polarizer matter (circular or linear)? I have a circular polarizer but only use it for reflective surfaces, i was not aware it would help in situations like this.
10/27/2005 01:47:41 PM · #7
Originally posted by ankit0621:

Thank you all for the comments and ideas, Bear-music does the type of polarizer matter (circular or linear)? I have a circular polarizer but only use it for reflective surfaces, i was not aware it would help in situations like this.


Linear poalrizers don't work well with autofocus systems. So circular is what you need. Your skies often go bright because water droplets in the atmosphere are reflecting and scattering light in all directions. The polarizer will eliminate some or all of the scattered light, most effectively when shooting at 90 degrees to the sun and least effectively when shooting into the sun.

R.

Message edited by author 2005-10-27 14:06:52.
10/27/2005 01:51:40 PM · #8
Originally posted by bear_music:


Linear poalrizers don't work with digital sensors, or work inconsistently. So circular is what you need. R.


Correct me if I'm wrong bear, but I thought linear polarizers don't work with autofocus sensors, not the digital CCD or CMOS sensor. In other words, if you don't mind manual focus you could use a linear polarizer on a digital camera. Am I wrong?
10/27/2005 02:01:30 PM · #9
Ankit,

The bigger question (than use of filters) might be the type of metering you're using to shoot the landscapes? Your 20D has at least 3 metering modes:

--Evaluative metering uses all 35 zones

--Center partial metering meters the section of the scene falling within the circle in the center of the viewfinder. This zone covers only 9.5% of viewfinder area so it's almost a spot meter.

--Center-weighted average value metering gives special emphasis to the center of the viewfinder

If you're using center or center weighted, it's possible you're metering on a darker foreground portion of your landscape, and thereby blowing out the brighter sky. Try using evaluative metering, or one of the center (spot metering) modes and do a half-shutter press to lock the metering, and then recompose and shoot. You ought to be able to capture deep blues in the sky, along with decent foreground element lighting with your camera:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19978/thumb/213478.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19978/thumb/213478.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19978/thumb/216480.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19978/thumb/216480.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19978/thumb/213476.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19978/thumb/213476.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
10/27/2005 02:05:10 PM · #10
Originally posted by DrAchoo:

Originally posted by bear_music:


Linear poalrizers don't work with digital sensors, or work inconsistently. So circular is what you need. R.


Correct me if I'm wrong bear, but I thought linear polarizers don't work with autofocus sensors, not the digital CCD or CMOS sensor. In other words, if you don't mind manual focus you could use a linear polarizer on a digital camera. Am I wrong?


You're correct. I didn't state it very well at all.

R.
10/27/2005 02:05:58 PM · #11
dupe

Message edited by author 2005-10-27 14:06:14.
10/27/2005 02:25:06 PM · #12
Get your exposure for the sky, then hold it and recompose your shot to include the landscape. It's more feasable to bump up the resulting darker landscape using shadows/highlights or levels than it is to retrieve anything in a blown out sky.
10/27/2005 11:16:08 PM · #13
Originally posted by strangeghost:

Ankit,

The bigger question (than use of filters) might be the type of metering you're using to shoot the landscapes? Your 20D has at least 3 metering modes:

--Evaluative metering uses all 35 zones

--Center partial metering meters the section of the scene falling within the circle in the center of the viewfinder. This zone covers only 9.5% of viewfinder area so it's almost a spot meter.

--Center-weighted average value metering gives special emphasis to the center of the viewfinder

If you're using center or center weighted, it's possible you're metering on a darker foreground portion of your landscape, and thereby blowing out the brighter sky. Try using evaluative metering, or one of the center (spot metering) modes and do a half-shutter press to lock the metering, and then recompose and shoot. You ought to be able to capture deep blues in the sky, along with decent foreground element lighting with your camera:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19978/thumb/213478.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19978/thumb/213478.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19978/thumb/216480.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19978/thumb/216480.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19978/thumb/213476.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/19978/thumb/213476.jpg', '/') + 1) . '


Question, how do you meter (press halfway) the sky but then "focus" on say a flower in the fore ground?
10/27/2005 11:49:14 PM · #14
Hrm,

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this shot was taken hand holding a gradient neutral density filter in front of my lens. The horizon is not level. There are softline and hardline filters so if you're using a softline filter then the horizon doesn't have to be flat. I somehow don't think I would have gotten the same exposure without using a gND filter to bring the dynamic range closer. I use them quite often and find them to be a useful tool in my camera bag. A polarizing filter in my opinion will give you some nice blue sky, but I haven't had as much success with it in bringing the dynamic range closer as I have with a gND filter. Your mileage may very.

I also believe that shooting in RAW and trying to process the file twice can produce extra noise in the underexposed areas when bringing them up to 'proper' exposure. It's always better to get it right in the camera, instead of trying to 'push' a file too far one way or another. I do agree that shoot RAW provides the greatest flexibility in post processing.

-danny

Originally posted by bear_music:

I keep seeing these recommendations to use a graduated neutral density filter, and in a sense it perplexes me. I've been shooting all my life, and have never used one. A lot of the time, when one IS used, it looks highly artificial. Plus it really only works well where the horizon is a straight line...

A better suggestion is to use a polarizing filter, which will often (but not always) solve the problem. You should definitely be shooting in RAW where you anticipate this being a problem,a nd you should definitely be bracketing exposures, especially if you don't/won't use RAW.

Additionally, if you use Photoshop CS2 the shadow/highlight adjustment feature works wonders. If you have an earlier version, the "cntrl-alt-tilde" contrast masking technique accomplishes about the same thing. It's a basic part of my workflow. If you need info on it let me know.

Robt.


Message edited by author 2005-10-27 23:50:54.
10/27/2005 11:56:38 PM · #15
Originally posted by GeneralE:

If you shoot in RAW format, you can process the image twice. Adjust one to get the highlights, the other for the shadows, then merge the two as if they were the two images you described first.

You can also try and retain the highlights, and then use Curves through a graduated mask to bring out the shadows, in a rough simulation of the effect of a graduated ND filter.


Just wondering is this legal for either of the rule sets, it's from one image but in a way your using two images?
10/27/2005 11:59:21 PM · #16
Originally posted by pekesty:

Originally posted by GeneralE:

If you shoot in RAW format, you can process the image twice. Adjust one to get the highlights, the other for the shadows, then merge the two as if they were the two images you described first.

You can also try and retain the highlights, and then use Curves through a graduated mask to bring out the shadows, in a rough simulation of the effect of a graduated ND filter.


Just wondering is this legal for either of the rule sets, it's from one image but in a way your using two images?


Possibly answered here in another thread today.
10/28/2005 01:48:25 AM · #17
Originally posted by pekesty:

Originally posted by GeneralE:

If you shoot in RAW format, you can process the image twice. Adjust one to get the highlights, the other for the shadows, then merge the two as if they were the two images you described first.

You can also try and retain the highlights, and then use Curves through a graduated mask to bring out the shadows, in a rough simulation of the effect of a graduated ND filter.


Just wondering is this legal for either of the rule sets, it's from one image but in a way your using two images?

I believe under the advanced editing rule set both methods are legal.

However, under the basic editing rule set the first is illegal for using more than one pixel layer and the second for making a selection (a mask is another way of selecting).

David
10/28/2005 02:06:56 AM · #18
I shot this using a 2 stop graduated ND filter (no hard line). I don't think I could have gotten the shot without it.' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/315/thumb/153469.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/315/thumb/153469.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

As it is I still had some of the clouds blow out.
10/28/2005 06:29:01 AM · #19
Originally posted by jbsmithana:

I shot this using a 2 stop graduated ND filter (no hard line). I don't think I could have gotten the shot without it.' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/315/thumb/153469.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/315/thumb/153469.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

As it is I still had some of the clouds blow out.


Actually, you DO have a horizontal horizon here, at the foot of the mountains. Good candidate for this filter. Where it's a problem is when the sky/foreground break is on a diagonal, as in the mountains for example. I'm not saying these don't ever work; that's silly, of course they do. But a lot of times you can definitely SEE they've been used and it can be very artificial. Used well they are exceptionally nice.

R.
10/28/2005 06:57:38 AM · #20
Here are two more examples. Both were taken in RAW and processed from there. For the first I used two ND grads to bring out the details in the clouds.
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For the second image, that did not do as well, I used the polarizing filter and got a comment that it needed a ND grad. I wish I had tried both. The Polarizing filter took out reflections on the water that would have been a problem and did darken the sky. A ND grad would have darkened the sky even more.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/392/thumb/246049.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/392/thumb/246049.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
10/28/2005 08:22:21 AM · #21
Originally posted by theSaj:

Question, how do you meter (press halfway) the sky but then "focus" on say a flower in the fore ground?

With AF you would have a problem with shots like that. I recommend MF if you're metering a sky behind a foreground object. Or bracket exposures (which is what I do more often now) using EV compensation.
10/28/2005 05:00:29 PM · #22
Originally posted by bear_music:

Originally posted by jbsmithana:

I shot this using a 2 stop graduated ND filter (no hard line). I don't think I could have gotten the shot without it.' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/315/thumb/153469.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/315/thumb/153469.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

As it is I still had some of the clouds blow out.


Actually, you DO have a horizontal horizon here, at the foot of the mountains. Good candidate for this filter. Where it's a problem is when the sky/foreground break is on a diagonal, as in the mountains for example. I'm not saying these don't ever work; that's silly, of course they do. But a lot of times you can definitely SEE they've been used and it can be very artificial. Used well they are exceptionally nice.

R.


I agree that they works best on these type shots. But there are ND's that do not have a hard line but instead have a very gradual tinting from top to bottom. They help eliviate the problem of a line showing. I went back and realize that I did turn this one upsdie down (it is a square Cokin) and created a definitive line at the horizon. My mistake. A combo of ND and polorizer might work well if you have enough light. In most situation the polorizer does the trick. So end of story is it all is good, experiment is the key.
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