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Old Jun 12, 2007, 9:10 AM   #1
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Hi everyone - I have noticed a problem that I have not been able to come up with a good solution for. Whenever I shoot a tree with light colored flowers on it, such as a Cherry tree in bloom, the tree is sharp, but the flowers are not. I am assuming the white is to much contrast and they just blow out. I have tried different lenses and exposures and have not come up with a satistactory fix yet. Maybe HDR.

Anyway, here is an example below. Notice how the white Dogwood flowers are blurred out, but the shrub leaves and stemsare in sharp focus. I have seen this same problem in lots of other peoples photos also- Bruce



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Old Jun 12, 2007, 1:33 PM   #2
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hmm, shooting something like that isnt easy. You've got a lot of distracting elements, like the branches and leaves.

A smaller aperture might help.

But my advice would be to go in closer, and single a few of the flowers out, instead of trying to shoot the whole shrub.

Tom
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Old Jun 12, 2007, 11:20 PM   #3
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White flowers are very difficult. Getting closer and taking just a couple of flowers helps. The other thing I've done is to underexpose or use spot exposure and meter from the white flowers. That doesn't always work, but I've had better luck with it than without.
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Old Jun 13, 2007, 12:25 AM   #4
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Sunsets can be much the same whay requireing 3 basic different exposure during a single sunset and why P&S shooters are often disappointed in result....

There are periods you need to underexpose, some normal exposure is OK and then you often need to over expose towards the very end if there is dimming after cloud lighting/color end.

I would tend to agree that shot would likely look much better 1/2 to a stop underexposed.

And not knowing what you exposure setting were, AE is going to try and make things look, ,like normal day light by default. (Again why P&S ten to look poor in transitional lighting... unless they ofer EV comp and people even know its there of bother with it.)

This would seem to be a non bright sund shot.... but again at default IE is likely trying to expose for mid gray to make it seem so.
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Old Jun 13, 2007, 1:08 AM   #5
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I don't see anything technically challenging about that subject.

What lens and aperture are you using? That photo is sort of small to see the problem that clearly, but what I can make out reminds me of a typical problem with the Pentax 18-55 kit lens when its at max aperture and near the tele end.

Bart
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Old Jun 13, 2007, 9:24 AM   #6
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Here is a smaller crop from the center of the tree and I processed it in RAW with a little less exposure. I was using an M50 macro when I took this shot, but my M50-1.7 gives similar results. It seems like whenever I shoot a tree with light colored flowers on it, whether it is in the distance or near as this one was, the flowers are blurry.

You are right in that if I get in close and expose on just the white flower, it is sharp, but to do this from any distance, the leaves are way underexposed. I'm sure its a contrast issue and HDR is probably thebest way to solve it, although I haven't tried. I would think the flowers would be blurry there also, since at least one pic of the HDR would be overexposed. I just wondered if anyone has come up with a compromise. I did some playing with it thisSpring on a Cherry tree in bloom, but was not able to get good results then either. The latitude of digital does not seem to be as near as much as film, at least yet, but I may be wrong as I have not used film in a number of years- Bruce

PS - this was shot at F11



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Old Jun 13, 2007, 10:07 AM   #7
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Now that it's closer I can see the flowers are clipped, but I don't see anything I'd call a blur problem. Whatever it is, it's still near pixel sized.

Bart
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Old Jun 13, 2007, 10:45 AM   #8
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bper wrote:
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the white is to much contrast and they just blow out.
I've been having lots of the same trouble with flowers ever since I first went digital. The problem is limited dynamic range. The different in intensitybetween the brilliant white highlights and the darkest important shadowsis just too much for the CCD sensor. The highlight detailwon't be there unless the exposure is sufficiently small not to saturatehigh intensities to 255,255,255. Showing the subtlety of detail within the highlights demands low contrast at the high end of brightness. The first thing to do is try for more gentle lighting, using time of day, weather, etc.

As we can now preview or review images, throwing most of them away,getting the exposure right for the petals is best be done by trial & error.

However, the magic of rapid shooting of many frames means we can make sure at least some shots are correctly exposed for most bits of the image. The way to do this isby bracketing many nearly-identical shots, so that at least some of them are correctly exposed for each bit of the image. If you've got lots, you can choose the least bad ones, which may be masterpieces, you never know.

With exactly the same problem as you, I retreated to my last but one digicam which does 5-step bracketing with a wide range of possible exposure steps, inspected the results, and then went back to the newer models for the final shots. That said, I'm still not very happy with the results!

You could also consider using an image editor for (a) selection and adjustment of some bits of the image (down to individual petals), and/or...

(b) combining different exposures for different parts of the image. Obviously this would best be done on tripod-mounted shots, hoping the wind doesn't blow.

You could bracket not just different exposures, but different contrast settings, if you've got plenty of time. Remember not long ago this probably would have been tackled in the darkroom. Where the highlights were really important, as here, you would expose for them, and the negative's enormous & continuous dynamic range would accommodate shadow detail as well. Lots of dodging and burning would have been required to get it just right.

With slide film we'd have exposed for the highlights, and the big dynamic range on a projected image would often have given good results, but only whenprojected.

Good luck,

Alan T
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Old Jun 13, 2007, 12:06 PM   #9
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Hi Alan - Thanks foryour helpfulcomments. Glad to see someone else is fighting the same battle. I think you can read between the lines enough to find it's just to much dynamic range between the white flowers and dark leaves and twigs.

Probably a good way to approach it is to take a meter reading on just the whiteblossom and expose for that and then work with the dark areas in the software later. At least they won't be blown out and with raw, you do have some latitude to work with.

I think the crutch of the problem is we're always in to big a hurry to run up and take a spot reading of the blossoms and then move back and take the picture. Sometimes the offending tree is across a creek or not easy to get too. It's a lot easier to come up with excuses then to solve the problem. But like you say, that one great picture may be worth an hour of work figuring the bestpossible light and exposure- Bruce
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Old Jun 13, 2007, 12:25 PM   #10
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bper wrote:
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then work with the dark areas in the software later. At least they won't be blown out and with raw, you do have some latitude to work with.
The problem I've had is that exposed properly for the nearly white, the shadows are 'blown in' so much the overall picture is then 'too dark' for most people. And as we both know, it's difficult to imagine anything worse than foliage to try & twiddle delicately.

Foliage can have its uses however, as I discovered when twiddlingmother-in-law's beautiful portrait of her grandson, spoilt by her car alongside him. I was able hide it behind a wall (difficult) and tree (easy) cloned from the same image.

Alan T
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