"Sky" photos

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by dumbstruckk, Aug 8, 2008.

  1. dumbstruckk

    dumbstruckk TPF Noob!

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    Hi. I just got my SLR the other day (yay! haha) but I have been interested in photography for quite a while now. I just want to ask, what is best if I want to shoot the sky? I have seen people who have shots where the clouds are so "defined" and stand out. If I try to take pictures of the clouds, they always come out blended and not nice =\ thanks!
     
  2. reg

    reg TPF Noob!

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    What do you mean "what is best if I want to shoot the sky"?
     
  3. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I see reg has had his daily visit from the Good Humour man! ;)

    I think what the OP is referring to are methods by which you can achieve a well exposed sky without blown highlights. Assuming that's the case, and further assuming it's not just a picture of the sky you want, but the sky and ground features, there are a couple of methods:

    1. Expose the image for the the highlights in the sky/clouds and process to regain the detail in the deep shadow. (Worst)

    2. Expose several images at varying shutter speeds in order to cover the dynamic range of the scene and produce images suitable for an HDR merge. (Better)

    3. Use graduated neutral density filters to effectively reduce the brightness of the sky compared to the ground (Best if you have an overcase sky, lots of cloud, or the sun isn't suitable for a circular polarizer)

    4. Use a circular polarizer to darken the blue of the sky and increase the contrast between it and the cloud (Best if you have a few puffy clouds in a blue sky, the sun is low in the sky, and well away from where you're shooting).

    Hope that's what you were looking for.
     
  4. reg

    reg TPF Noob!

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    I'm actually wondering!

    "What's best for x" is a fairly broad question, buddy. Best metering mode? Best shooting mode (P,S,A,M)? Best filter? Best composition? Best PP technique (because the clouds "stand out" vs. her "blended" ones, maybe sharpening)?

    See what I mean?
     
  5. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Well, based on this, I figured I'd take a guess at what he was asking...
     
  6. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    Use a polarizer. ;)

    Meter for the brightest part of the clouds. Great if you have a spot meter built in!

    Then maybe take an exposure bracket.

    Pretty much sure fire.

    Also to consider are ND filters!

    Here is an ND16 microscope filter on the end of my little A2:

    [​IMG]

    Both neutral density and polarizing filters are interesting to use on cloud shots.
     
  7. reg

    reg TPF Noob!

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    Always gotta have some sort of gibe, don't you?
     
  8. andrew99

    andrew99 TPF Noob!

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    Getting it right in camera is best, but you can do a lot in Photoshop/Gimp/Lightroom, etc. Increasing the contrast and playing with the curves command can make a dramatic improvement.
     
  9. ZachGibson

    ZachGibson TPF Noob!

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    Well firstly!

    Don't JUST take pictures of the sky, it's been done a million times, and every picture of clouds that I've seen have run together and none have had any real draw to them.

    Incorporate the sky into shots, use it as a backdrop for portraits, give landscapes that extra little point of interest by including a bright blue sky, get creative with it, just don't point straight up at it and hit the shutter.

    Also, you need to underexpose to really make the sky look good. Since it's so bright, in comparison to everything you've got on the ground, properly exposing subjects will blow the sky out, and properly exposing the sky will cause everything else in the shot to get dark and ultimately become a silhoutte.

    TiredIron's list of techniques should help, but off camera flashes help too. When you're using one, you can underexpose the entire scene, leaving only what the flashes are directed towards lit up, which will allow you to keep a bright subject and a nice dramatic sky at the same time.
     

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