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Author Topic: Seeking sky advice  (Read 2730 times)

Meadowfresh

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Seeking sky advice
« on: December 06, 2012, 08:35:12 AM »
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?


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Seeking sky advice
« on: December 06, 2012, 08:35:12 AM »

emag

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Re: Seeking sky advice
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2012, 09:51:26 AM »
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

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Re: Seeking sky advice
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2012, 10:20:51 AM »
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.
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kyle77

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Re: Seeking sky advice
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2012, 10:57:25 AM »
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

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Re: Seeking sky advice
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2012, 11:23:32 AM »
Google: "black card technique landscape photography"

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

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Re: Seeking sky advice
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2012, 11:24:23 AM »
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

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Re: Seeking sky advice
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2012, 06:23:37 PM »
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.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 06:29:44 PM by Kernuak »
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Re: Seeking sky advice
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2012, 06:23:37 PM »

Meadowfresh

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Re: Seeking sky advice
« Reply #7 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.

Jesse

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Re: Seeking sky advice
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2012, 08:18:30 PM »
No one ever notices diffraction.
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Kernuak

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Re: Seeking sky advice
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2012, 04:53:15 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.

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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bjd

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Re: Seeking sky advice
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2012, 11:55:49 AM »
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.
Yep LR4 does pretty well in getting what is there out, but if there is no detail in the RAW then you are screwed.
I bracket if not certain, I did it to have the potential of doing HDR, but have given up on that now.
As soon as I can afford them I'll be getting some grad NDs.

Cheers Brian

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Re: Seeking sky advice
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2012, 11:55:49 AM »