Problem with blown out skies

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Jon_Are, Oct 12, 2008.

  1. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are TPF Noob!

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    Went out shooting yesterday. Got some nice shots, but about half have all or part of the sky blown. I was primarily shooting in aperture priority, being mindful of depth of field.

    Questions:

    1. I wasn't careful about from which point within the frame I was metering; I'm guessing this is the problem. Should I have first metered for the sky, then re-framed the composition?

    2. If I do this, won't my subject possibly be out of focus?

    3. Is there anything at all I can do in pp to fix the sky, even a little?

    Thanks!

    Jon
     
  2. ANDS!

    ANDS! No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Is the sky the subject in your photographs? If not, and you can afford to do some cropping, don't worry about.

    And if you meter for the sky, your subject (potentially) wont be out of focus, it will be (potentially) underexposed because the camera thinks there is more light on your subject than their actually is.

    If it is absolutely crucial for you to maintain dynamic light range throughout the entire photograph, you could "bracket" your shoots to under and overexpose the photograph so that you get shots of the subject and the sky with proper exposure, and then layer them in photoshop - or take it to the next gimmicky step and produce an HDR photograph.

    Also Nuetral Density filters are (I guess) an option, but I don't use them so you might be better off doing a Google on them.

    So long story short, generally if you have a really bright day, it's one (the sky) or the other (not the sky) thats going to suffer exposure problems.
     
  3. pm63

    pm63 TPF Noob!

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    This is a copy of an earlier post of mine in another thread:

    It's about compressing the dynamic range of the scene into something your cameras sensor can handle. There are a number of options, each with their advantages and disadvantages:

    1. Use ND grad filters to slow down exposure for the sky, the favourite method for landscape photographers. You can use a square filter system such as the Cokin P series or the more professional (and therefore much more expensive) Lee filter system. These filters are dark on one half and clear on the other, and the graduation from one to the other can be either hard or soft (more gradual). You put the darker half over the sky because it's brighter and the lighter half on the foreground. You would usually have a few of these filters for different strengths, calculate the exposure difference between the sky and the foreground and use the appropriate strength to balance it out. This is a great approach because it gives a very clean look, unlike other methods (see point 2).

    2. Expose for the highlights (i.e. avoid blowing them out) and use Photoshop's Image > Adjustments > Shadow/Highlight tool - it can make even completely black-looking areas bright again. I would only really reccomend it when the difference between shadow and highlight areas it relatively small, not when the shadows are completely blacked out, or else the lightened up areas will be very noisy and grainy.

    3. HDR - You get lots of control but it gives a specific feel and effect which not everyone likes. Also not suitable for some types of shots (e.g. moving subjects).

    I personally like to use ND grads and fine-tune the balance in Photoshop. Hope that helps.
     
  4. rubbertree

    rubbertree TPF Noob!

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    metering for the sky does not mean you focus on the sky, it means you take the light reading off the sky. So meter on the sky, then compose the subject and focus.
    But yes, this can cause you to now have an underexpose the subject. You have to compromise sometimes.
     
  5. Applefanboy

    Applefanboy TPF Noob!

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    Why not expose to the sky, and light the subject with a diffused flash?
     
  6. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are TPF Noob!

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    I failed to mention that I did use an ND filter.

    This might be worth a try, especially on important shots.

    Sounds like a good way to go too.

    Yeah, this occurred to me about an hour after I posted. :blushing:

    Thanks for all the tips, everyone. Each time I get a little bit better, I realize how much better I need to get.

    Jon
     
  7. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Try a stronger ND.

    Not kidding, for some scenes it will help.
     
  8. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Can you post an example?

    Options might be...

    1. HDR image
    2. Polarizer
    3. Stronger ND as mentioned
    4. Meter for darker areas of the shot, meter for the sky, put the exposure somewhere in between. (this works pretty well, but you are definitely going to wind up with some black areas, FYI)
    5. Turn around and shoot in the opposite direction. :) If you can, keep your back to the sun (or at least have it behind you to the left or right)

    Also shooting raw gives you a bit of flexibility, btw.

    Watch yourself on that shadow/highlight tool. It makes for some unnaturaly looking images if you push it more than just a hair, and it also puts a lot of noise in the shot in a lot of cases.
     
  9. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are TPF Noob!

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    I'm at work now, but I will do so tonight or tomorrow.

    Jon
     
  10. Ptyler22

    Ptyler22 TPF Noob!

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    And you can also bring back the sky, in pp, to a certain extent. If you post an example I can try and see what I can do as far as bringing it back.
     
  11. GeneralBenson

    GeneralBenson TPF Noob!

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    It would err in favor of the sky. It's easier to pul information out of shadows than it is to pull it out of overblown highlights with no information to recover.
     
  12. manaheim

    manaheim Jedi Bunnywabbit Staff Member Supporting Member

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    You really can't though... It may look as though you can, but if the data isn't there, the data isn't there. As Ptyler said, you can always fake a sky. :lol: It's evil and it can look a bit off if you don't do it right, but he is right... I've done it a number of times. :lol:
     

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