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Thread: Help with potential lighting issues?

  1. #1
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    Help with potential lighting issues?

    So, I'm having trouble with photography. When I take photos of my fiance etc it looks good, but when I'm out and about doing landscape shots it looks pretty bad. It's either got too much contrast, or too "dull" ie a blue sky turns white or whatnot. I've tried using a polarising filter and it doesn't improve the quality much.

    At first I was thinking it's my camera or my lens (the old "blame the tools" and all) however after looking at the photos of my fiance they're full of colour and vibrant etc so it makes me think I'm missing something.

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.n...20100384_n.jpg

    That's a photo of my fiance (she's darkened it a bit while in jpg format). Now, this wasn't a "professional" shoot by any means, it was just me grabbing a quick snap, however the colour there impresses me compared to my landscape work. It's mainly the sky which looks dull. Mind you, when I shoot there's usually not much cloud in the sky, and I've been told polarisers are best used with a lot of cloud etc. But what could turn a blue sky white-ish? Potential camera setting? Too much light?

    I tried taking a 30 second exposure with a ND filter and the cloud looked absolutely amazing, and there was a bit of orange shining through the clouds via the sun, however the blue of the sky had all but gone. I've tried editing the blue in Lightroom and while it does do something it tends to bring out the blue everywhere else also.

    I'll get a picture of the sky etc that I'm taking about when I get home but does anyone know what the problem could be or have they experienced anything like this before?

    FYI I've tried auto ISO, 100, 200 etc, differenmt white balances, also tried different shutter speeds from 1/40 to 1/500. I've tried my 18-55, 55-250 and also my macro 60mm. The macro 60mm seems to have much better image quality (however the colour is similar).

    I've since been told that capturing a sky is "difficult", is this true?

  2. #2
    Senior Member neuroanatomist's Avatar
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    Cue D800 discussion/arguments/flames/trolls. Oh, wait, this isn't CR.

    The issue actually is related to DR - the shot of your fiancé is pretty low DR, whereas a landscape scene often has a very high scene DR. If you expose to capture the details on the ground, the sky is 'blown out', and if you expose to preserve the highlights in the sky, the ground is too dark.

    You might consider trying exposure blending (an HDR-like approach, often lumped together because the same software usually does both). Basically, you're taking multiple exposures, and the software blends them so you see detail in the shadows and in the highlights.

    The hardware option is a graduated neutral density filter, which is dark on top and clear on the bottom, so a single exposure effectively captures shadow and highlights, by selectively darkening the highlights. Have a read in this thread: http://community.the-digital-picture...ead.php?t=6725

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    Senior Member Dave Throgmartin's Avatar
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    The Hitechs just came in today... of course, given daylight savings time it gets dark by 4:30

    The Hitech + Cokin P holder appears quite promising. I probably won't have a chance to really evaluate before Friday though!

    Dave

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    Thanks for the response. By DR I'm guessing you mean dynamic range? (Please correct me if I'm wrong, still new to a lot of terms). The photos Jayson posted are the kind of effect I'd like to achieve and I notice he said he's using grad filters, but I can't help but feel he also has much better gear than I hahaha. Is getting that kind of shot possible on a 650D or would an upgrade be needed etc?

    I was tempted to try HDR but not sure where to start. I was told my camera had the HDR option built in, however I can only find nighttime HDR. I've recently (a few months ago anyhow) bought Lightroom, is that good for HDR stuff or would you recommend other software?

    Would a variable ND filter help, or would it need to be a grad filter?

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    Don't think a variable will get the results you're looking for because it darkens everything. A gradient (goes from dark to clear) would be better.
    Words get in the way of what I meant to say.

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    Senior Member nvitalephotography's Avatar
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    The other question is what time of day are you going and taking landscape shots? You should be thinking sunrise and sunset (or within several hours of either) for landscapes. Closer to the middle of the day makes light look a lot worse and often doesn't help with the dynamic range issue if you have strong shadows in the frame.

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    To answer the lost question... A 650D is more than capable. Without a filter even, if you use AEB (Automatic Exposure Bracketing), then use DPP's HDR feature (or any other software with an HDR feature).

    Assuming it's the same controls as the T1i, on the Quick Control screen, click Set on the -2..1..0..1..2+ scale.
    You'll see it says +/ is the arrow buttons. This is exposure compensation. Not what we're after.
    Under that it says AEB and shows the wheel. This is what we want.
    Scroll the wheel, and you'll notice bars extending away from your 0 (or whatever your exposure compensation is set to).
    Set it to -2/+2.
    Take 3 shots, and the camera will adjust the exposure automatically. I think there is a way to have it automatically do 3 shots, but I don't recall how (maybe in timer modes it does it)

    On my T1i it changed the speed from 200, to 800, to 3200. This should adequately expose dark and bright areas. Run HDR software on the 3 images and you should get details in the dark shadows and the bright sky, and everything in between.

    Remember to turn AEB off immediately, so you don't forget about it.

  8. #8
    Senior Member conropl's Avatar
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    I am not sure which vintage of the 18-55 you are using, but those are the two lenses that I started out with. My own observations were similar to yours... landscapes that were focused at a distance or infinity tended to be very yellow or warm, and the sky's blues took a particularly hard hit. Colors and detail when zooming in tight were not too bad (at least I could fix it with white balance adjustments). So taking pictures of flowers or frogs did not look to bad, but getting a nice sunset always came out dark and the colors were off. Three things have helped me:

    1. A polarizer helps somewhat... especially when shooting 90 degrees from the sun. The polarizer helps bring out the blues and can provide more contrast in the clouds. It is not something you want to use all the time, but I find I use it more times than not when shooting landscapes.
    2. As everyone has already said, DR is a real issue, and a graduated ND filter helps a lot. Even with cheap filters, this was probably the single biggest thing that helped me tame the DR issues of sunsets/sunrises. If you are tired of silhouettes and would like to be able to see the foreground, then this will help a lot. HDR is helpful, but it I think it works even better (and easier) if you use the Grad ND as well (i.e., if you keep the DR to a minimum with filters, you can reduce the number of shots needed and the noise is reduced in the final image). And I am not suggesting cheap filters... the better you get the better the results.
    3. Glass does matter. The biggest impact of upgrading my lenes was the contrast and color rendition that I got. In particular, I was getting better blues and everything was not sowing up so warm (yellow and orange). You can shoot RAW and adjust for some of this by adjusting the White Balance on post processing, but that will only get you so far. I do not have the best glass, and I look forward to getting better lenses in the future; but I do like the change I have seen with the upgrades so far.


    Just my 2 cents, and it is probably worth what you paid for it.
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    Senior Member bob williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squidy View Post
    Thanks for the response. By DR I'm guessing you mean dynamic range? (Please correct me if I'm wrong, still new to a lot of terms). The photos Jayson posted are the kind of effect I'd like to achieve and I notice he said he's using grad filters, but I can't help but feel he also has much better gear than I hahaha. Is getting that kind of shot possible on a 650D or would an upgrade be needed etc?

    I was tempted to try HDR but not sure where to start. I was told my camera had the HDR option built in, however I can only find nighttime HDR. I've recently (a few months ago anyhow) bought Lightroom, is that good for HDR stuff or would you recommend other software?

    Would a variable ND filter help, or would it need to be a grad filter?
    Squidy, "DR" Does mean Dynamic Range. Graduated filters are very beneficial when you need to reduce the exposure on the sky while maintaining adequate exposre on the landscape and are probably more beneficial than a variable ND in this case. The variable ND simply gives you the option of adjusting the amount of light entering the lens by the adjusted amount---The variable NDs are also very expensive. Yes they are good for many things including reducing exposure enough to allow blurring of waterfalls, waves etc, but you can also achieve the same effect from a regular ND if you purchase the correct one for the job at far less cost.

    Lightroom does not provide you any options or adjustments for HDR unless you have a plug-in for it such as HDR EFX pro (which I highly recommend) or you can go with standalone software such as Photomatix, which is also very good industry standard software. True HDR is accomplsihed through multiple exposures, at different exposures, of the same scene; then combined with software and adjusted to taste. Most HDR software also has options for "pseudo-hdr" effects from a single image.

    Since you already have Lightroom, I recommend you download a 30 day trial version of HDR EFX PRO. Be sure to read the tutorials and watch a couple of thier videos.----HDR is Fun.

    Good luck and Have fun

    Bob
    Bob

  10. #10
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    You guys are all a bunch of legends, thanks heaps for your help so far. It's why I keep coming back

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