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Old Jan 4, 2007, 12:48 PM   #1
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I recently just bought the Pentax K100D and before that I had the Pentax DS. It is a great camera but there are some stuff that I am still unsure about. I still consider myself new to photography but I've learned A LOT from the first time that I picked up a camera about 2 years ago. Everything that I learned about photography I learned by myself and I did not take any class on it. Since I learned it on my own there are some stuff that I don't understand and I need some tips. Tomorrow I will be leaving to Boston and I would like to take the best picture that I could.

Setting WB when taking pictures of a skyline view of the city.
Is it possible to manually set the WB on the camera for taking pictures of something that is a few miles away? In day time, I don't see a problem with this because the lighting if from the sun. But at night time, the lighting is very different and varies beacuse the light that I am under may(will be) different from what is across from the city. Also the light that is in the city will be a mixture of many different light so Auto or one of the preset WB might not work well. How can I fix this?

Countering strong shadows in outdoor afternoon sunlight.
Is there a way to counter strong shadows when taking pictures with the afternoon sun? I know I can use the "fill flash" if I am taking pictures of something/someone within reach of my flash, but what about something that is farther away? If I meter from the shaded area, the shaded area will be fine, but everything else outside the shade will be overexposed.



But if I meter from outside the shade, everything inside the shade will be underexposed?


Anyway to correctly expose this picture? What I am I doing wrong?


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Old Jan 4, 2007, 1:08 PM   #2
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Changing the white balance will change the camera's perception of the color of the light that is hitting the sensor. I'm not sure you want to do that with a night-time city scape. My approach would be to let the colors of the city lights be a part of the composition. I would probably achieve that by setting the white balance to the sunlight setting.

I'm not familiar with your particular model of camera, but most cameras don't have a real small sweet spot for the white balance; with most of the ones I am familiar with, you have to fill the frame with the white (or photo gray) object. So you may get some pretty funky results trying to get a manual white balance over an entire city scape.

As far as balancing the lighting within the high contrast photo you posted, there are only a few options. You have to either add light to the foreground with a bigger flash; or take two shots, one exposed for foreground and one for background, and then composite them with Photoshop Elements or another capable program; or wait for opposite lighting - go back in the morning if the shot you posted was taken in the afternoon, or vice versa. Those high contrast situations are something you have to be on the alert for. Experienced available-light photographers are always thinking about light's direction, intensity, and color.
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Old Jan 4, 2007, 1:45 PM   #3
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The answer to both problems is to shoot RAW.

Shoot the first shot RAW and you can adjust the white balance in the conversion. That is assuming the auto-WB on your camera is poor. I know with the Canon system, it does an very good job of auto WB outdoors. Indoors is a little trickier. But if you are overly concerned simply shoot raw.

Second problem - as docmoon suggested, you can take 2 shots and blend them. That's great as long as nothing in the frame will move. If anything (and think trees here) can move that approach is difficult. So, the answer is to shoot RAW - as long as you don't have more than a 4 stop dynamic range difference you can meter for the midtones and create 2 conversions - one for highlights and one for shadows from the same RAW image and blend those two shots. But, The picture you posted could probably be corrected in photoshop with just shot 2. Shadow recovery could bring out enough detail in this photo - I don't think it requires a blended exposure. But, again, when in doubt - shoot RAW and you can do the blending.
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Old Jan 4, 2007, 1:46 PM   #4
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And, of course - a nuetral density filter is the correct answer to the dynamic range problem. But I don't run into the issue enough to invest in ND filters so the blended exposure works in the instances I do run into it.
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Old Jan 4, 2007, 7:17 PM   #5
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Not at all sure how a nutral density filter would help unless it is graduated in a way that pretty much follows the shadow line.

I agree that shooting in RAW so you can "develope" two images - one for the shadows and one for the highlights. To some extent that can be done with a masked adjustment layer - the mask following the shadow line in a way no real graduated nutral density filter ever will. (A quick example below) That does increase the noise in the shadow area. That noise will be less starting with high resolution RAW.

A very good explaination can be found at http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/blended_exposures.shtml He does start with two exposures - which is better, but developing RAW for highlights and shadows gets part of the way there and you don't have to worry about people moving between exposures.
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Old Jan 5, 2007, 12:46 AM   #6
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I agree that your night lighting question is best handled with raw. You can apply whatever WB you want. There are some Photoshop plug-ins with WB controls that work very well for JPGs and you can do pretty well in Photoshop without the plug-ins. But it is a lot easier with raw.

Here are a couple of HDR tutorials from Luminous Landscape that are often linked: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/hdr.shtml and http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tu...blending.shtml

A graduated neutral density filter with a fairly sharp cutoff would have worked OK for the photo you posted because the shadow is pretty straight. But it is a nuisance to carry and select just the right one for a particular situation.

As a general rule for taking a single shot with a large dynamic range you should meter for the highlights. You can usually pull the shadows up to some degree but burned out highlights are just gone. It is often necessary to use noise reduction for parts you pull from deep shadows though. You get the most dynamic range with the lowest contrast settings if you don't use raw.

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Old Jan 5, 2007, 1:19 AM   #7
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Thanks for the tips everyone. Sorry I couldn't reply eailer because I was busy backing and getting ready for the big trip tomorrow.
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Old Jan 6, 2007, 7:52 AM   #8
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well call me old fashioned, but I used graduated neutral density filters along with several other filters back in my film days with great results. I still have and still use several of those same filter with my 20D with the same great results. I guess I am the type that likes to get the image as close to what I want in camera rather than at the computer. With the square type cokin ND filters they are very easy to rotate to follow the shadow or horizon line. I takes about a half a minute to put the filter on, and at times I have even just hand held the filter in front of my lens which takes even less time,compaired to the several minutes at the computer. But then again I already had the investment in the filters, so no new equipment for me to buy.

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