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Seeking sky advice

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sdsr:
As others have explained, the phenomenon you're experiencing is unavoidable much of the time.  But if you don't already shoot RAW and use software to adjust your photos, you may be in for a pleasant surprise; in Lightroom 4 (I used to think DxO was best at this of the various products I've tried, but LR4 seems even better - which isn't to say there isn't software out there that's even better) you can reduce the exposure of the highlights without darkening the rest and, depending on the RAW file (I have no experience with your camera), may be able to restore much or even all of the missing color in the sky - and, in the process, you'll restore definition to the twigs, pine-needles etc. on the edges of the trees.  I'm often amazed by the details LR4 manages to conjure up.

Kernuak:
If you're really interested in landscape photography, then you need to invest in neutral density graduated filters. Yes you can use HDR, but I'm definitely not a fan, partly because the technique has been abused so much, but even when done well, it doesn't look natural to me. It is a particular problem with high contrast transition areas, particularly skies with large expanses of blue and with a silhouette. It's largely a matter of what look you want to achieve. If you want a more surreal look, use HDR, if you want a natural look, use grad filters.

This first shot was taken with 5-6 stops of graduation.


Watchet Summer Sunset by Kernuak (avalonlightphotoart.co.uk), on Flickr

I think this one was more like 3 stops.


Rainbow over the Pap by Kernuak (avalonlightphotoart.co.uk), on Flickr

I was thrown by the comment that the images didn't show, but grad filters, while possible with the first would be awkward, but would certainly be a possibility for the second. Another possibility is blending layers form shots with two (or more) different exposures. It's more natural looking than HDR, but is potentially more work.

Meadowfresh:
Thank you very much for the replies, much appreciated.

Currently I do shoot in Raw and make slight adjustments in LightRoom 3. I have some luck bring the blues back in for the skies in the past. But I like to try to avoid playing around with the images. As for the HDR suggestions I have tried a little of this with out any great results, I will have to do some research into it more for getting more natural looking shots.

I have been looking at ND filters recently but I have noticed how some are ND4, ND8 etc and others are ND400 etc. Is a ND400 the same as a ND4?

Also with a graduated filter do you put the darker half on the bottom or top in general?

Thank you.

Jesse:
No one ever notices diffraction.

Kernuak:

--- Quote from: Meadowfresh on December 06, 2012, 07:24:01 PM ---Thank you very much for the replies, much appreciated.

Currently I do shoot in Raw and make slight adjustments in LightRoom 3. I have some luck bring the blues back in for the skies in the past. But I like to try to avoid playing around with the images. As for the HDR suggestions I have tried a little of this with out any great results, I will have to do some research into it more for getting more natural looking shots.

I have been looking at ND filters recently but I have noticed how some are ND4, ND8 etc and others are ND400 etc. Is a ND400 the same as a ND4?

Also with a graduated filter do you put the darker half on the bottom or top in general?

Thank you.

--- End quote ---
Generally, you put the dark part on the top (often angled), but sometimes they can be useful for reflections too, where you'd have them the other way up or if the sky is only on one side (for example if only showing part of a building), then position it on that side.
This blog entry might help you with the various terms used.

http://avalonlightphotoart.wordpress.com/photographic-and-nature-articles/the-use-of-filters-in-photography/

ND400 is a 9 stop filter and not graduated.

http://www.amazon.com/Hoya-Neutral-Density-ND-400-Multi-Coated/dp/B00111UX40

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