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lomitamike Aug 20, 2006 10:15 PM

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Last weekend my wife and I went on a camping trip to the Sequoia National Forest. Of course I brought my camera to get some pictures.

This enviroment really shows the limits of a digital cameras ability to capture a wide dynamic range of light. It becomes very challenging to get a correctly exposed picture in the forest with all the shadows.

Is one metering mode better than another for these conditions?

Is it better to correctly expose the bright part of the picture and try work the dark areas afterward? What about filters?

Here is a example; First picture, subjects underexposed background good.

lomitamike Aug 20, 2006 10:17 PM

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This one girls good background blown out.

JimC Aug 20, 2006 10:46 PM

Fill Flash if you can get close enough. ;-)

Actually, the conditions there aren't too bad. Most of the shadow areas are still recoverable. Even using a basic tool like Picasa I was able to use the "fill light" feature and bring it up to where I could see the subjects OK without totally blowing the sky (although it was still brighter than it should be, it was still a light blue).

Using more sophisticated tools, selecting desired areas, you could do much better.

I generally expose for the highlights, unless I really don't care about them for what I'm shooting. Then, use the histogram to help out (it will show you shadow and highlight areas where you're losing detail so you can adjust exposure -- depending on what's more important to you).

Shooting in raw can also help out (you can usually get a couple of stops more out of raw using some of the better tools around).

Yes, using a filter is another option. A graduated neutral density filter is one way to go.

Another way is to blend more than one photo using software. Here is one article discussing technique:

lomitamike Aug 21, 2006 12:17 AM

Thanks Jim.

Fill flash,your right,I should have thought of that.

I really wanted to include the Giant Sequoia tree as a background. So I guess exposing on the highlights and working the shadows afterwords isthe best option.

Lesson! Use fill flash, and you have a better chance of recovering the shadows then blown highlights.

belgian pie Aug 21, 2006 9:49 PM

This just a quick edit butin photoshop you can actually make it into a pretty acceptable picture ... the rule is tho ... try to do it on exposure

lomitamike Aug 22, 2006 4:21 PM

Thanks belgian pie.

Correct exposure is what I always aim for but in landscape shots where the sky is in the background the extremelight (sky) to dark (shadows) range is just too great for the the camera to capture. There you have the flashing in the histrogram.

I don'tuse filters, so fill flash and post processing are my only alternitives for these conditions.

I have not done a comparison using different metering modes but I doubt that it could make much of a difference.

meanstreak Aug 22, 2006 10:42 PM

JimC wrote:

Another way is to blend more than one photo using software. Here is one article discussing technique:

Nice informative site. I think I may try some of those techniques.

belgian pie Aug 22, 2006 11:08 PM

When you post process then use RAW capture, it holds more information than JPEG and you can do pretty nice stuff post processing.

Aug 23, 2006 4:18 AM

As long as your in PShop, you could remove the pole & wires too.....just a thought.

tmoreau Aug 23, 2006 9:23 AM

The best (only) way around this is to compose a scene with lower contrast. Or lower the contrast yourself with flash (or graduated ND filters), but you'd only be able to light up the people not the background.

You could use any metering mode, keep the sky totally out of the frame, hold AEL button, then re-compose. This will give a good exposure of the dark half but will cause the sky to totally blow out.

Or going the other way, set your exposure so the sky (or tops of the trees) is 2 stops bright and let the bottom of the scene fall where it may, then pull it up in photoshop. There is always more shadow detail, highlights are lost foever. However, you lose a ton of data by doing that. HALF of your tonal range is in the brightest stop of the raw file, so if your brightest highligts are 1-stop down from overexposure your only using half of what your raw file is capable of. In other words, the best thing to do is expose it properly in camera.

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