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Old Dec 28, 2008, 12:30 PM   #1
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Hey guys,

I was shooting a white rose flower arrangement I have sitting next to my deak this morning. Experimenting. And noticed the inevitable blown highlights on portions of the white petals where the strong sun is hitting it. Is there nothing you can do while shooting to eliminate the blown highlights? Do you have to rely on PP? I tried closing the aperture by a stop or two. Didn't help much if at all. Or do I just have to wait till the sun isn't as intense?

I know the D700 has a "preserve highlights" feature. Does that work? Has any one tried it shooting a subject with a lot of white (e.g. flowers with white petals, woman in a white dress, a wedding...etc.)?

My flower arrangement is sitting close to a window. And I'm shooting with a D300.
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Old Dec 28, 2008, 12:48 PM   #2
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Adjusting the exposure down will certainly preserve the highlights - but it may be several stops down. And you'll likely find the dynamic range is simply too great to capture in a single shot. So, you can either use an HDR technique, reduce the amount of light hitting your subject or lower the exposure down and add flash.

Whether you lower the exposure by using the highlight priority feature or manually lowering the exposure is up to you. The feature isn't magic - it can only preserve highlights by adjusting the exposure.
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Old Dec 28, 2008, 2:18 PM   #3
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JohnG wrote:
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Adjusting the exposure down will certainly preserve the highlights - but it may be several stops down.* And you'll likely find the dynamic range is simply too great to capture in a single shot.* So, you can either use an HDR technique, reduce the amount of light hitting your subject or lower the exposure down and add flash.

Whether you lower the exposure by using the highlight priority feature or manually lowering the exposure is up to you.* The feature isn't magic - it can only preserve highlights by adjusting the exposure.
Hey JohnG,

As I pretty much thought. But stopping down the exposure won't be an option in this case. Left my SB800 in storage. And there was no way to control the intensity of the sunlight hitting the subject (where the subject was positioned in relation to the window). So I guess my only option would have been to take HDR photos. Though, I have yet to buy a copy of Photomatix http://www.hdrsoft.com/). Will do that eventually.

Though, I didn't consider the dynamic range of the scene would be too much. Interesting.

Would using some kind of filter help? A filter that would desaturate or reduce the intensity of the light? Hmmm...
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Old Dec 28, 2008, 2:51 PM   #4
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Filters will reduce the intensity of all the light in the scene, and the camera will simply increase the exposure to compensate. Unless, of course you are able to use a graduated ND filter, and the highlights you need to reduce are near an edge.

The only real way is to spot meter on, or near, the brightest part, and pull out shadow detail in PP. This isn't really that difficult, even without HDR software. PS Elements, for example, has a shadows/highlights menu which can do wonders.

Shooting in RAW in these situations is something I would also recommend, as there is usually more highlight detail available than is evident in a .jpeg. Takes a little bit more time, but can rescue some shots that would otherwise have to be trashed or relegated to the 'failures' file.

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Old Dec 28, 2008, 3:52 PM   #5
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VTphotog wrote:
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*Filters will reduce the intensity of all the light in the scene, and the camera will simply increase the exposure to compensate. Unless, of course you are able to use a graduated ND filter, and the highlights you need to reduce are near an edge.

*The only real way is to spot meter on, or near, the brightest part, and pull out shadow detail in PP. This isn't really that difficult, even without HDR software.* PS Elements, for example, has a shadows/highlights menu which can do wonders.

*Shooting in RAW in these situations is something I would also recommend, as there is usually more highlight detail available than is evident in a .jpeg.* Takes a little bit more time, but can rescue some shots that would otherwise have to be trashed or relegated to the 'failures' file.

brian
Hello Brian,

Thanks for your advice. And funny enough I was just experimenting with spot and center weighted metering. Definitely does help big time Found "center" works the best as it's "circle" is larger. Actually I could increase this circle. I have my "center" set to default size.

ND filters? Forgot about those. Would be worth looking into as well.

PP solution? Yes. Thought of that. Just wondered what could be done on-camera. I have iPhoto and Aperture 2.0 for photo editing.

Have a good day!
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Old Dec 29, 2008, 7:35 PM   #6
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Hello people,

Question. To recover blown highlights do you have to have shot the photo in RAW? And if shot in RAW can you totally recover the blown highlights? 100%? Or do you only better your chances greatly (vs. having shot it in JPG)?

I was playing around with Aperture 2.0. It will show you the blown highlights in red (default) and "blown" shadows (in blue). You would then move the slider for the highlights till the red disappeared. I did that yet that areas with blown highlights were usually still blown. No detail. Just a patch of white.

I know some of you only shoot in RAW. Perhaps I should start doing the same Especially in more challenging situations. I mean normally most of us do not shoot in the direction of the light when possible. Especially when the light sources is specular. Nor do we encourage our subject to be smack dab exactly where the rays of the sun is aimed. Or any light source. Since that would be where the light is strongest.


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Old Dec 29, 2008, 11:56 PM   #7
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Shooting in RAW gives you the ability to recover 1-2 stops of highlights over what you would see in a jpeg. Totally blown is totally blown. Some converters may give you a little more leeway than others, though.

When you have challenging lighting, and you recognize this, bracket your exposures to better the odds you will get at least one you can use. This also gives you the ability to use HDR software. Even if you don't have the software now, you can always go back at some later date. Some negative exposure compensation may also be a good idea. I have one or two lenses which tend to overexpose somewhat, and always use a negative EV with them.

I understand that some of the newer cameras have exposure modes which prevent blown highlights, or are supposed to. That seems a bit too easy, and takes away (at least for me) from the joy of getting it right myself.

brian
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Old Dec 30, 2008, 12:24 AM   #8
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VTphotog wrote:
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*Shooting in RAW gives you the ability to recover 1-2 stops of highlights over what you would see in a jpeg.* Totally blown is totally blown.* Some converters may give you a little more leeway than others, though.

*When you have challenging lighting, and you recognize this, bracket your exposures to better the odds you will get at least one you can use.* This also gives you the ability to use HDR software. Even if you don't have the software now, you can always go back at some later date.* Some negative exposure compensation may also be a good idea. I have one or two lenses which tend to overexpose somewhat, and always use a negative EV with them.*

*I understand that some of the newer cameras have exposure modes which prevent blown highlights, or are supposed to. That seems a bit too easy, and takes away (at least for me) from the joy of getting it right myself.

brian
Thanks Brian. Good advice about bracketing. And I did happen to read an article from Professional Photographer that compared two leading photo editing softwares. Lightroom vs. Aperture (which I have on my MBP). They had one "expert" per software trying their best to recover the highlights from the same image. Lightroom came out ahead. Here's the article...

http://www.ppmag.com/bonus/2007/06/r...-renderin.html

I think the D700 is supposed to be able to do this. How well I don't know. Though, I doubt it's totally fool proof. I'm guessing D700 users will still get blown highlights too. Just less often with this feature switched on. I think it just adjusts the exposure. Which is what we're supposed to do. If only I could borrow a D700 for the weekend.

It also has an "anti-vignetting" feature...heh...

And regarding HDR...will be getting a copy of Photomatix...eventually...not just to sidestep blown highlights. I like the "fine art style" photographs I've seen using HDR. Always wanted to try it for the fun.
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Old Dec 30, 2008, 7:44 AM   #9
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DarkDTSHD wrote:
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...I tried closing the aperture by a stop or two. Didn't help much if at all.
In what shooting mode?

If you're shooting in Aperture Priority Mode (versus manual exposure), closing down the aperture is not going to impact exposure (how bright the image is). That's because the camera is going to compensate by using a slower shutter speed if you use a smaller aperture opening (resulting in the same exposure) when shooting in Av mode.

If you want a darker exposure than the camera is metering in non-manual modes, use exposure compensation set to a -EV value.

In Av (aperture value, a.k.a., aperture priority) mode, the camera will use a faster shutter speed to give you a darker exposure if you use a -EV setting.

If you're shooting with manual exposure, either close down your aperture or use a faster shutter speed with the needle set to the left of center for a darker exposure than the camera is metering.

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...And funny enough I was just experimenting with spot and center weighted metering. Definitely does help big time Found "center" works the best as it's "circle" is larger. Actually I could increase this circle. I have my "center" set to default size.
That comment leads me to believe that you were not really adjusting your exposure when using the default metering (stopping down the aperture in non-manual modes will not impact your exposure, since the camera is going to compensate by using a different shutter speed).

But, metering on a brighter area would have caused the camera to use a darker exposure (hence, what you saw when you tried that approach).

I'd use a darker exposure first to see if the camera can handle the dynamic range of the scene (for example, use a -EV setting with Exposure Compensation in Av mode for a darker exposure than the camera is metering).


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Old Dec 30, 2008, 8:00 AM   #10
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P.S.

Another thing you may want to try is using a dark enough exposure so that you're not blowing any desired highlights (by either using spot or center weighted metering on a brighter area or using a -EV setting with Exposure Compensation)

Then, once you have your exposure set so that you're not blowing any desired highlights, experiment with Nikon's Active D-Lighting settings to try and brighten the darker areas of the scene as desired (keeping in mind that noise will be higher in any brightened areas of the image, since this feature is "pushing" the exposure in those areas).

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