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Old Nov 3, 2010, 11:52 PM   #1
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Default sky is to bright

hi i was trying to do a picture of a wooden fence line but the fence came out way to dark and the sky above it way to bright with no color or detail how can i get both to have good lighting and not be blown out
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Old Nov 4, 2010, 1:04 AM   #2
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Evening, I think that it would help if you posted the image (leaving the exif data intact), however several items comes to mind.

If you take an image and you get the results as you described, then you want to ask yourself, how did the camera (or me) meter the scene. Were you using a spot meter or averaging. Your camera may not give you an option, but here is a quick description just in case...
  • spot, usually the center of the image, and if it was on the poorly lit fence, then the well lit sky overwhelmed the image with brightness - however the fence should have not been that dark since it was the object the camera was taking light meter readings from.

  • Averaging - if the camera was averaging the scene across both the sky and fence, then the sky I would think be handled a bit better, however the fence would have been worse off.

So how can you tell what the camera was doing - its all recorded in the exif data. Download a free utility such as photome and it will display all the fields present and tell you what the camera thought was going on.

How could you have corrected some of this? Well to a degree you could have used a flash to fill in the fence. I have found this to be hit and miss.

You could also use a photo utility program to correct the image to an extent, thereby doing some post processing. You will be amazed with how some images comes out. You could down load Picassa from google (free) and it has an editing mode with a "iam feeling lucky button" - click that and it will adjust the exposure, lighting, color, etc of the image to what it thinks may be better. If you do not like it just hit the "undo" button.

Another approach is to use bracketing mode, where you automatically take 3, 5, 7 etc. images in a row. one normal and the rest both over exposed and underexposed by fixed amounts. Then you use and HDR software program to combine them all together. It uses the underexposed to tone down the overexposed sky (for example) and then uses the underexposed fence, and in combining them together, the sky is less bright and the fence is not as dark.

Last edited by interested_observer; Nov 4, 2010 at 1:13 AM.
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Old Nov 4, 2010, 7:49 AM   #3
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The traditional way to deal with this situation is to use a graduated neutral density (GND) filter. This is a filter that is dark on one half and clear on the other. You orient it such that the dark part is aligned with the sky and the clear part is aligned with the darker foreground. A good general choice is 0.6, which corresponds to two stops difference between the dark and clear regions. Most GNDs have a gradual transition from dark to light, which is what you would normally want. Some are a sharp transition, which is only useful if you have a clear horizon line across the entire photo, and even then these GNDs are harder to use than the gradual ones.

Alternatively, you can resort to high dynamic range (HDR) photography, in which you composite a series of photos taken at different exposures. Many cameras will take 3-5 photos with a defined increment in exposure as fast as the camera can take them. Personally, I find HDRs to look artificial and visually irritating in the vast majority of cases, but many folks are quite fond of them.


Last edited by tclune; Nov 4, 2010 at 10:55 AM.
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Old Nov 27, 2010, 5:20 PM   #4
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time of day is critical to getting the shots you want. pick a cloudy day with the sun behind you and it may be ok. i often go out before dawn to be in position to get the picture i want. or you could experiment with flash.
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Old Nov 27, 2010, 5:33 PM   #5
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im prob getting a sb600 here in a couple weeks so flash experimenting sounds good
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Old Nov 27, 2010, 5:39 PM   #6
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Agree - time of day and the nature of light on the subject/background are the basic issues.

As it is in pretty much all photos.
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