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Seeking sky advice

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Meadowfresh:
Hello all,

I would appreciate some advice on improving my photos please. I am not sure if it is due to the situation or my ability. But I keep getting washed/blown out skies. I took the following two pictures just before sunset, the sky was starting to fade away but it sill had some blue colour left in it. The first image was taken facing away from the setting sun. I took the second image as a test to see if there would be a difference.

Both photos were taken with a 40D with a 17-40mm F4

Settings:
Exposure    1.6
Aperture    f/20.0
Focal Length    17 mm

Apparently the metering mode was "Multi-segment". I took the photo in live view to minimise movement, could that be part of the issue?


http://flic.kr/p/dyVZN8

http://flic.kr/p/dyVZr8


Thank you very much in advance for any feedback/advice.

**EDIT**

The pictures didnt show up for some reason. Also on a side note when I have tried to use the built in attachment option the post will crash when trying to upload, anyone else had this issue?

emag:
I could not view your photos, but can offer a bit of advice.

f/20.0 - don't use it.  Small apertures begin to cause diffraction effects/loss of detail.  If you want the longer exposure times it provides try a(n) ND filter or doubled polarizers.

If you want the sky, you can underexpose.  Play around with your camera and take a series of exposures with varying degrees of underexposure.  F'rinstance, shoot aperture priority, set ISO to 100 or 200 and aperture to f/8 and use the 40D thumbwheel to shoot at faster shutter speeds.  Page 94 of your owner's manual discusses exposure bracketing also.

If you want both sky and people/subjects in the foreground to be properly exposed there are a few methods.  The manual discusses 'Night Portrait' mode on page 53.

You can blend a series of bracketed exposures in Lightroom or other software to handle the high dynamic range.

The 40D is a fine camera, mine has many miles on it, is modified for and relegated to astronomy and has had the shutter release (a known weak point for 40D) and USB board replaced.  Eventually the shutter will fail and I'll have that replaced also.

Jay Khaos:
Simply put, you can't correctly expose bright sky over a shaded river on one shot.  You might get close with a gradient ND filter.  I don't use one.. but the top is dark and fades down to clear to darken the sky and try to keep it from getting blown out.

Looks like youre in the market for an HDR tutorial.  Basically that involves merging two (or more) separate shots exposing different elements in the same scene.  So one with the sky exposed correctly where the river will be dark or solid black, and then one like you linked to with the river exposed correctly.

kyle77:
Anytime during daylight hours, even though our eyes "correct" for it, the sky will be much brighter than any subject not in direct sunlight, therefore they sky will be blown out when you expose for shadowed subjects.

Graduated neutral density filters will help if you have more of a definate dividing point of sky and land, but it probably wouldn't have been much help in those pictures.  As already mentioned, HDR would be be an option, and I have had good results shooting in raw and adjusting the shadows and highlights in Lightroom 4. 

Nice pics though, and good luck!

pdirestajr:
Google: "black card technique landscape photography"

http://www.flickr.com/groups/blackcard/

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