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Old Feb 3, 2010, 2:36 PM   #1
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Default Highlight Blowout need help

Hi all, I seem to run into this a lot, and don't know quite how to deal with it. I used the 77 segment metering for this, I know I should have probably used spot, but is there any other setting to help control this?
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 2:53 PM   #2
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You can darken the birds, but that blown out section on both of them is gone forever.
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 3:23 PM   #3
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What settings could I have used on my K7 to better control the blowout? I'm talking about the color settings.
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 3:36 PM   #4
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White balance makes no difference for exposure settings. While you can recover a fair amount of over-exposure with raw files, if something is truly blown out (like this), you still won't be able to recover it, even from a raw file. It's worse if the original is a jpg.

One thing you might try is using a minus Ev adjustment, expecially when shooting white birds. Try Ev -.7 and then change from there. Some birds (Egrets come to mind, as well as white pelicans) are very difficult for any camera to capture both detail in the birds and properly expose the background, and here your camera chose to expose for the background. I've had better success with center weighted instead of matrix and changing the Ev. And using spot metering is great for stationary subjects but not so great for anything that moves. Just as you are about to push the shutter the subject moves and instead of metering off the mid-tone wing, you meter off the dark background or the white breast. If you want to use spot metering to get the exposure numbers, use it to get a reading, then switch to manual and use whatever f stop/shutter speed combination the camera gave you (it does work, but is usually too much remembering for me to bother much with, unless I'm feeling too lazy to play/get frustrated with changing the Ev settings).

If you use spot, remember not to meter from the white - the camera tries to expose to grey so your picture will be very underexposed and the white parts will be dingy grey.
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 3:49 PM   #5
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Thanks for your input. I usually do use spot in just the way you mentioned. I'm actually refering to the custom finishing tones, where you find things like high low key, and contrast. Is there any settings in there that could help. Also what about the highlight in the d-range?
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Old Feb 4, 2010, 5:57 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony3dd View Post
...is there any other setting to help control this?
Whenever in doubt, bracket the exposures if possible, to produce several possibilities. Then (a) use the least badly exposed, or (b) use a photoeditor to cut and paste bits of image from one to the other, or (c) use clever HDR software or similar to combine desired tones from the various images.

I set my exposures (on a cheap Kodak superzoom) by eye, twiddling the EV up and down in the 'live view' electronic viewfinder, and observing the changing highlight & shadow tones. Nevertheless, I regularly see, both in the EVF before shooting and in the image after pushing the button, that there is often no 'right' answer in a single image, and one or other must be sacrificed. Quite a lot can be done in post-processing with dark bits, but blown highlights are by their nature painfully prominent, and best avoided.

The huge brightness range of the real world covers a vast dynamic range from white to black, inconveniently often including desirable detail in both highlights and shadows. Fortunately the human eye can cope pretty well, but unfortunately technology can't, yet.
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Old Feb 4, 2010, 3:16 PM   #7
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The option to use the extended dynamic range can help, and you have the choice of protecting the highlights or the shadows (you no longer have to do both). However, that will automatically push the camera to ISO 200 and higher (not a bad thing for shooting birds, per se), but it introduces extra noise. I probably didn't give it a fair shake with the K-7 - I only briefly tried it. I did use it for a while on the K20, but the extra noise bothered me more than I liked. I probably should try it again with the K-7, and make sure that I expose more to the right than I usually do, to see if that would deal with the extra noise. Give it a try and see what you think (and while I can remember how to turn it on with the K20, I can't off-hand remember about how to do it with the K-7 - best to look in the owners manual under extended dynamic range or something like that).

Custom finishing tones won't help as you really can't bring back what's already blown-out, whether in-camera or by software.
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Old Feb 4, 2010, 3:26 PM   #8
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I'm with Alan on this - when in doubt bracket. Also in situations like this I advise to shoot in RAW. That provides you a bit more flexibility to recover some blown out areas. If you're running into this a lot I also suggest looking at the histogram in the image playback - that should alert you when you've got blown highlights.
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Old Feb 7, 2010, 12:37 PM   #9
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A large part of this is in getting to know your camera and lens. There are some lenses which will consistently overexpose, and others which consistently underexpose, with a given camera. Your D-range settings can help protect highlights, and dialing in a bit less contrast will help with shadow detail. Sometimes, the result of trying to keep both shadows and highlights in control is a rather flat looking picture, though.

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