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Old May 20, 2009, 6:27 AM   #1
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Default What went wrong -soot and whitewash

Here are two frames of Low Force, Upper Teesdale, North Yorkshire, which epitomise my dynamic range/exposure problems on my recent holiday. It was an unfortunately dull spell in a sunny holiday. If the sun had shone the problem would have been worse.

Here are two frames, set by eye in the electronic viewfinder preview, to -2EV and -O.67EV, the first to show detail in the bright waterfalls, and the second to show detail in the rocks. I have several other pairs of images like this, from similar scenes on the same day.

What would have been my best way to expose this shot (other than going to HDR)? I now realise I should have taken an exposure in the middle as well, and hoped for the best...
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Last edited by Alan T; May 20, 2009 at 10:33 AM.
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Old May 20, 2009, 6:31 AM   #2
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...But as it was, this was the best I could do, by twiddling curves & brightness on the first, dark, 'expose for the highlights' shot, as in the days of colour slides. Once the highlights are blown, they're gone, unlike the dense subtleties we could extract from the highlights of negatives in the olden days.
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Last edited by Alan T; May 20, 2009 at 10:34 AM.
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Old May 20, 2009, 9:16 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan T View Post
...What would have been my best way to expose this shot (other than going to HDR)?...
The best approach, other than doing exposure blending using multiple shots, would be to shoot RAW, exposing for the shadows, and do the bulk of the adjustments in the RAW conversion. Depending on the RAW converter you use, you may be able to make some different adjustments in localized areas. Even a simple straight RAW conversion is much better than any in-camera JPEG. JPEGs can't reproduce the full dynamic range of modern sensors without producing a very flat, low contrast image unless careful manual curve adjustment is made, something that can't be done with the camera's internal RAW to JPEG conversion.

If you can't bring the highlights under control in a single RAW conversion but can retain the detail you would then do curves adjustments in an app like Photoshop where you can create Adjustment Layers with Layer Masks. This allows different curve adjustments in localized areas (e.g. just the water, ...).

Another approach is simple exposure blending from a single RAW image with two different RAW conversions, one for the shadows and basic image and the other highlight optimized. Stack the two as separate layers in a single image, highligh image on top, and use a Layer Mask to mask out the highlight layer everywhere except the water. Sometimes changing the transparency of the upper highlight layer to less than 100% aids in getting a realistic blend.
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Old May 23, 2009, 12:51 AM   #4
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I think if you shot one that was darker than the left shot you would have more detail in both the water and the sky. Then combined with the two you have there, you'd have a nice set of pics for Photomatix to make an HDR.
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Last edited by Bynx; May 23, 2009 at 1:18 AM.
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