Problem with exposure range

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by JeremyHopper, May 22, 2007.

  1. JeremyHopper

    JeremyHopper TPF Noob!

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    Hi, I've been doing digital photography for a few years now and have gotten around the basics and all without many problems. I've been completely satisfied with my work up until recently where I've been paying more attention to detail because I'm going to be doing some landscape photography, mainly autumn and winter oriented shots.

    I've noticed that when I take a picture with exposure metered to a foreground object, let's say a tree, the exposure is WAY off for brighter objects like the sky and such. When I take a picture metered for sky exposure then the foreground objects are really dark! I've read that this is dynamic range and that digital cameras have the lowest dynamic ranges of imaging equpiment, with the human eye having the most dynamic range. Does this mean I have to switch to film photography to get the shots I want? Here's some examples of what I mean:

    [​IMG]

    In this shot, the trees are fine, but the sky is washed out.

    [​IMG]

    In this shot, the sky looks great, but look how dark everything else is!

    [​IMG]

    I know for a fact that this picture was taken on film, and I know that my camera would not be able to take this picture. Number 1, either the sky would be washed out or the ground would be too dark, and Number 2, I wouldn't be able to get the right exposure. (see below)

    I've found that when I change a stop in exposure trying to get it right it's very drastic. It makes it impossible to get the correct exposure. I've also heard that changing a stop on a film camera is not as drastic. Do I need a better camera? Is my metering system out of whack? I'm using an Olympus E-500 with 8 MP. Could shooting in RAW format help in any way? Any help would be greatly appreciated. If you guys need any more information just ask. Thanks!
     
  2. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I don't know the specifics of your camera, but most of the DSLRs with an APS-C or larger sized sensor have a similar dynamic range as color negative film, at least when shooting raw. Even if people want to argue that neg film has a stop more dynamic range, that's not enough to solve your problem. Many film landscape shooters are using transparency films, most of which have even less dynamic range than neg film or DSLRs. You would have similar problems with film.

    Some solutions:

    Shoot near sunrise or sunset: the sky is darker then

    Neutral density filters: allow you to block some of the exposure of the sky

    Polarizing filter: will darken blue sky

    Post processing: adjustments such as the Shadow/Highlight filter in Adobe Photoshop

    Exposure blends and HDR: take multiple shots of the same subject exposing for different parts of the scene, and then combine them yourself or with software actions in post processing

    BW neg film probably has close to twice the dynamic range of most DSLRs, yet because of the ease of very precise, digital post processing tools I am often able to make final prints via Photoshop that have the appearance of more dynamic range than I am able to get out of my traditional BW darkroom.
     
  3. JeremyHopper

    JeremyHopper TPF Noob!

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    Interesting. I have found that around 4 or 5 in the afternoon the sky is better. I have tested out HDR photography and the results... well I'm working on that, right now it's less than spectacular. A graduated ND filter might be the answer for some of my shots, I have looked into that. I know I HAVE to get a polarizing filter. I've always wanted one. I will experiement shooting in RAW. I'll post if the results are any better. Thanks for your reply!
     
  4. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Another solution would be to use a flash to light the foreground.
     
  5. JeremyHopper

    JeremyHopper TPF Noob!

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    Well I finished testing out things with the RAW files with not much of a difference. Thanks for all your help!
     
  6. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    best times to shoot is in the hour after sunrise and in the hour before sunset.
     
  7. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    Learn how to post process. You may need to make more than one coversions of the RAW file and merge them using layer masks.

    Alternatively it will be better to take 2 or three shots of the scene (exposed for both sky, midground and foreground) then merge in photoshop.
     
  8. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    There are limits to the dynamic range a camera sensor can record. One way to deal with it is to use HDR (high dynamic range) post processing. This method takes a number of exposures something like the first two above and then combines the exposures into a single image. It requires a motionless subject and a tripod, but it is a way to record a subject with an extreme dynamic range in way that film could never do.

    Without such a technique you need to decide which result you want and expose for it, just like you did.

    The best time of day to shoot, by the way, depends on the subject and the desired result. Time of day isn't a solution to a high dynamic range problem.
     
  9. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    Sorry FMW - you are quite right :)
     
  10. JeremyHopper

    JeremyHopper TPF Noob!

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    I know, and don't think dynamic range was my problem. I've seen HDR pictures and the contrast is really low.
     
  11. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    That's what more post-production is for. You don't' just use an HDR images straight out of Photomatix or whatever other software you would be using. All my HDR's are high contrast, becuase I go through a step by step process for my HDR photographs.

    for something like this, HDR is the way to go.
     
  12. JeremyHopper

    JeremyHopper TPF Noob!

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    I have thought about that. I'm still looking into it though.
     

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