Properly Exposing Sky

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by littlesandra, Aug 8, 2008.

  1. littlesandra

    littlesandra TPF Noob!

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    Lately, I've been having issues with having my subject whether it be man or object (like a building) and the sky both properly exposed.

    Either one is blown out or the other.

    Any insight on how to properly expose this other than bracketing and creating an HDR?

    like the building and sky in the background of this phot;
    [​IMG]
     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    A couple of options; you can use a circular polarizer to help darken the sky and increase the contrast which will give you a more even exposure. You could also use graduated neutral density filters which will give you the equivalent of a 1, 2 or whatever you select stop difference and give a more even exposure.

    You could also select the darker areas (or the lighter areas) and perform levels/curves adjustments to even out the exposure. Hope that helps.
     
  3. ksmattfish

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

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    Use a remote flash on your foreground subject.

    http://www.strobist.com

    Shoot raw and blend two versions of the raw file. One processed for the foreground, and one processed for the sky. It works wonderfully. Your photo is a good example of why I never liked split NDs, even when I shot film. I live in Kansas, renowned for flatness, and yet I rarely compose scenes that have a nice, level horizon right in the middle between dark ground and bright sky.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2008
  4. davebmck

    davebmck TPF Noob!

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    If you shoot in raw, you can set the exposure for the sky and then in Camera Raw you can use the fill light slider to bring up the darker areas. You can also dodge and burn in Photoshop. Also using a flash for fill light works good here, especially if you have a diffuser.
     
  5. pm63

    pm63 TPF Noob!

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    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). However, it wouldn't be suitable for a shot like the one you posted, it's more for landscape situations where you have a clear sky on top half, foreground on bottom.

    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've used it for my 2 most recent shots (see my flickr). 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. However, in your situation it might just be the ticket.

    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.
     
  6. D-50

    D-50 TPF Noob!

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    If you want to do post processing in photoshop this is simple jsut blend two to three shots each properly exposing a certain part of the photo together.
    However it sounds like you do not want to do that and would like to expose for everything in one shot. To do that expose for the brightest part of your image, in this case the sky. then use a fill flash to expose the darker part correctly. If you have an off camera flash this will work much better. For example position your flash off camera left and if you have another off camera right to kill the shadow the primary off camera flash is going to create.

    Without a flash you cannot properly expose an image like this with a darker forground and a bright background.
     

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