Question about the Sky

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by julie32, Aug 8, 2010.

  1. julie32

    julie32 TPF Noob!

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    Morning all:
    I haven't been on in two years and I've missed this forum, so I'm back in full force!
    I'm wondering if someone can please explain to me what I'm doing wrong to get a white sky in my photos when the sky was a gorgeous blue.

    I was shooting between AV mode and TV mode (for action with my 19 month old nephew), playing around with the flash (on/off). I shoot with a Canon 5D.
    Is it an ISO thing? A common novice thing? Any technical explanation will be so helpful.
    thank you,
    julie
     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    You are allowing the sky to be over-exposed. I shoot the Canon 5D myself. Its light metering system is color-blind, and it will tend to over-expose in many situations where there is darker water or ground filling a large part of the frame. One needs to make sure of the metering mode one has the camera in. Last month, I took the 5D on a fishing trip with me, and when one friend, a novice, handled the camera, the exposures he shot in automated modes were all over the place in the over-exposure direction. The 5D is an expert's camera, and demands very careful use of the light meter. On one scene one of my fishing partners shot, the 5D's metering system allowed the camera to go from f/6.3 at 1/1000 second at ISO 800 on a bright sunny July day on brilliant oceanic saltwater, down to f/6.3 at 1/160 second in Av mode...due to the stupid, color-blind light metering in the 5D, which ruined a beautiful action sequence that happened over about 5 minutes...a "smarter" metering system would not have botched that sequence...but it saw green seawater and thought the shutter speed needed to be dropped from 1/1000 second to 1/160 second DESPITE a blinding, sunglasses-on overall ambient lighting environment...
     
  3. julie32

    julie32 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the reply Derrel. I guess i'll keep practicing...
     
  4. clanthar

    clanthar TPF Noob!

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    Hi,

    Have to see the photo to be sure but it sounds like you attempted the impossible. The sky is a light source. When you're taking photos outside and the sky is in the scene then you're photographing both a light source and a reflective subject simultaneously. To get a good exposure (avoid overexposing the sky) you have to have reasonable balance in the lighting between the sky and the reflective subject. This is often not the case: for example in this photo.

    [​IMG]

    The sky is overexposed because the tonal range of the scene was too great. There were three options for this shot:

    1. Expose correctly for the shaded subject which must then force the highlight overexposure -- failure.
    2. Expose correctly for the highlights which must then force serious underexposure of the subject -- failure.
    3. Take a stab in the middle and both overexpose the highlights and underexpose the subject -- failure.

    The lighting condition is prohibitive. Impossible lighting is one of the most common reasons for bad photos. If the tonal range in critical sections of the photo exceeds our capture capacity then the capture will result in failure. This kind of prohibitive lighting is common.

    Take Care,
    Joe
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2010
  5. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Uh Joe,

    The Photo Forum - Photography Discussion Forum - FAQ
     
  6. clanthar

    clanthar TPF Noob!

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    Kmh -- thanks, I'm new at this -- fixed it.

    Joe
     
  7. julie32

    julie32 TPF Noob!

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    Joe, thank you for your help.
     
  8. vinski

    vinski TPF Noob!

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    A circular polarizer works well and a graduated ND filter can help when shooting darker landscape and bright sky...
     
  9. gsgary

    gsgary Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    An expert would have been using manual :lol: and it wouldn't have been a problem, i have never had trouble with the 5D metering
     
  10. julie32

    julie32 TPF Noob!

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    Can anyone offer me any concrete advice to try? Like on a sunny day at the beach, in AV mode try setting your ISO to..... your shutter speed to....... etc or is it more just trial and error?
    thanks for the help. I know you guys are experts out there so I truly appreciate the feedback. Not sure how to upload the actual photo here though...
    thank you.
     
  11. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Yes...but I had to leave the camera set up in Av mode so my fishing partners could run the camera and not futz things up...and neither of them are very handy with a camera...after shooting 5 days' worth of fishing shots, pretty much every sequence the two of them shot were horrible to so-so...

    It really shows why Canon is working on dveloping color-aware light metering for run-n-gun shooting...on ocean swells + wind chop in a 24 foot aluminum fishing boat, neither of them could really handle the 5D and 24-105-L quite well enough for my liking...automatic light metering was a problem, as was the centrally located AF system the 5D is saddled with...for a beginner, those two "features" meant that those two guys could not get the camera to deliver good results....it demands too much operator skill to use in pressure type situations.

    I stand by my assertion: the 5D is a camera for experts! And Gary, you fit into that category...it's not a camera for casual or run-n-gun uses or for users who are not intimately acquainted with how it works or what its limitations are...there are better choices for novice users like my fishin' buddies. I was just unaware of how many of the decisions I had been making,almost subconsciously, when running the 5D these past three years...it was an eye-opener...with my camera-novice fishing buddies running the camera, the results were very sketchy from the 5D...lots of OOF frames, bad exposures,etc.
     
  12. clanthar

    clanthar TPF Noob!

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    Hi Julie,

    Here's some basic points:

    1. On sunny days with a blue sky you need a subject lit by full sun. You'll get well exposed highlights, and good midtones and black shadows. Your camera is programmed to get this one right.

    http://photojoes.org/demo_1.jpg

    2. As the direction of the sun moves to the side and eventually to a backlight condition the tonal range of the scene increases and a good exposure becomes increasingly difficult. Your camera is not programmed for backlighting and will usually always fail. Many if not most backlit scenes are simply impossible unless you want a silhouette. This is tough because dramatic backlight is exciting and we often want that shot. Some cameras now have a backlight scene mode :lmao:

    http://photojoes.org/demo_2.jpg

    The photo of the boat is sidelit. Notice how the sky is a less intense blue than the church photo. The camera couldn't meter or capture this scene in any of it's programmed modes. I used the exposure compensation control to lower the exposure which kept the sky color -- the camera would have lost it. The rest of the scene was then underexposed and I had to jump Photoshop hoops to work it into this condition. As the lighting gets more difficult you have to work harder. The church photo is nearly straight out of the camera -- no hoop jumping.

    Backlight requires specific conditions and typically intervention with the camera's programming. There's no need to put the camera on manual however. The camera's exposure compensation control serves well. Here's a backlit shot:

    http://photojoes.org/demo_3.jpg

    The special condition here that made the backlight possible was snow and ice -- I still manually altered the exposure.

    Here's a backlit exposure that wasn't possible. There was no way to get a workable exposure of both the building and the sky:

    http://photojoes.org/demo_4.jpg

    ===============================================

    3. On overcast days the sky will 90% plus be a light source that's too bright and you'll get a white sky. Just don't do it. On overcast days keep the sky out of the shot.

    4. People outdoors: Put them in open shade or photograph them on overcast days (no sky in photo). Watch out for backlight in the background! When you see Pro photos of people taken in the sun (model on beach) there's an assistant just outside the frame holding either a strobe or a 6x4 foot piece of styrofoam. That supplemental fill is required. If it's coming from a flash 3 inches from the camera lens it'll look like bleep.

    So practically it's not so much what you have to do with the camera as it is seeing the lighting and knowing what will happen when you trip the shutter. There's no magic camera setting that would have made the photo of the building above work. Here's the basic camera tip. If you overexpose the highlights there's no fix so throw that one away. Therefore, get an exposure that holds the highlights and keeps as much content below the highlights as possible. You can use the camera histogram display to do that.

    See the light!

    Joe
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2010

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white sky and histogram and overexpose and stops