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Sky and subject mismatch

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by Phil66, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. Phil66

    Phil66 Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 27, 2011
    Hello every one,
    me again, here to be a pain in the proverbial with my constant how/why/what?:rolleyes: 

    OK, is there a way to take the shot below but get the sky on the first one and the church on the second one all in the same picture without PS? Don't study the composition too much, it was a cloudy sky exercise.

    I know netiher are exposed all that well but it is a balance I'm after. Please give advice.

    On this one, when I played it back on the camera, areas of the sky were flashing which I presume is showing blown highlights? I know the church could be more exposed but that would make the sky even worse :mad: 

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/phil66/7061760411/" title="P1010665 by PhilDY6, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "1024" height="684" alt="P1010665"></a>

    This is way too dark on the church but the sky is moody.
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/phil66/7061753491/" title="P1010664 by PhilDY6, on Flickr">
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
    "1024" height="684" alt="P1010664"></a>

    I have some RAW versions that I know I can doctor using the split raw technique but is that the only way?

    Thanks for your help

  2. Phil66

    Phil66 Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 27, 2011
    First one was f7.1, second f3.2, both 1/3200sec and iso 160.

    Both A mode and both cener weighted average metering.

  3. mzd

    mzd Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 30, 2010
    modern solution: HDR
    old school solution: graduated neutral density filter

    as far as i can tell, those are your only other options.
    many new cameras do HDR in-body (though I don't think any m43 bodies offer this - Sony NEX does) if you want to avoid computer time.
    though newer Panasonic bodies offer "intelligent D-Range" to help with this. i'm not sure if Olympus has an equivalent.
    • Like Like x 2
  4. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    +1 what mzd said
  5. zettapixel

    zettapixel Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 12, 2010
    You would have to use HDR here. If PS means Photoshop, there are plenty of other programs for HDR, including free ones like Picturenaut.

    Or you could try going around the church and shooting from the other side...
  6. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    In Aperture using the highlight slider in the Highlights and Shadows pane may well get you a fair part of the way from the clouds in the first picture to those in the second. Push it too far and things look very artificial but up to then you can get a fair bit of change in clouds.

    The big proviso is that for the highlights slider to work, there has to be detail in the highlights. If you've blown the sky highlights then you need to recover those highlights, or as much of them as you can, in the Exposure pane before using the highlights slider in the Highlights and Shadows pane.

    There's also a Shadows slider in the Highlights and Shadows pane which you can use for brightening up shadow areas and showing more detail there.

    LightRoom has similar adjustments but I don't use it so I can't tell you where to find them.

    Other photo processing software may also have similar processing options.

    There are also alternative approaches in Aperture, and I assume LightRoom, to achieving the same results. I suggested the Highlights and Shadows pane controls because they're the simplest and most direct way to do that sort of thing, though you may be able to get better results in another way if you know what you're doing. My skills aren't up to that sort of level.
  7. Kees

    Kees Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 30, 2011
    The Netherlands
    Kees Dignum
    Software like LightZone can do a decent job with the push of one button.
    (I can show you if you want).
  8. MexicoMik

    MexicoMik Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 19, 2012
    "OK, is there a way to take the shot below but get the sky on the first one and the church on the second one all in the same picture without PS? "

    A major issue with all photography for the past 150+ years! The answer is No. And digital is less capable in this area than print film.

    With shots with a wide dynamic range you have to decide which is the important part of the pics and expose for that. If you try a general compromise exposure, it will usually pretty much suck - being just a flat picture with blown highlights and too-bright shadows.

    You can boost the shadows (either in post or in camera depending on the camera) but if you do that more than just a touch, you will accomplish the same thing - a bland, flat, unsatisfying picture. In another post I mentioned that IMO slide film and digital respond the same way to a scene and, again IMO, you expose for the highlights in the frame and let the shadows fall wherever they fall. With print film it was the other way around - expose for the shadows - but print film has a much greater dynamic range than slide film or digital.

    So in your pic I would say that YOU need to pick what is most important for what you are trying to convey and expose for that. Is it the sky? Is it the church building in general? Is it the clock face on the steeple? Is it some other part of the scene?

    Print film would have probably done a fair job with the contrast in that scene but we are not here to consider going back to film.

    OTOH, There's nothing "wrong" with post processing (other than I don't like doing it). Ansel Adams spent many hours in the dark room on each of his images.. ;) 
  9. the.growler

    the.growler Mu-43 Regular

    If you are shooting RAW, you at least have blown highlight recovery tools at your disposal. In my limited experience, RAW editors do a much better job of highlight recovery than shadow recovery, thus the advice to "shoot to the right". Plus, you have more latitude with after-the-fact exposure compensation in RAW than JPEG.

    I haven't had any luck with splitting RAW files into different exposures and then recombining them via HDR into an image with any better dynamic range than the original capture - but then I'm no expert on HDR.

    If your camera has a faux-HDR effect, you can sometimes convert to a decent black and white image out of that - the faux-HDR seems to apply some localized contrast that helps smooth out the exposure extremes.
  10. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    I think the folks who are adept at post processing would create layers and edit the sky and church differently on separate layers, than recombine them so neither one is compromised.

    Can't say I've ever done that, but I do read posts where people say it is easy to do. :) 
    • Like Like x 1
  11. c5karl

    c5karl Mu-43 Regular

    May 31, 2011
    Fairfax, Va., USA
    I don't see this as a post-processing issue so much as a selecting your time of day/light issue.

    Hard to tell from these two examples, but it appears that the side of the church you're shooting is in shadow, or at the very least these photos were taken near midday.

    My guess is that if you return very early or very late in the day, when there's nice, warm, shadowless light available, and less difference in brightness between subject and sky, you'll come home with much better RAW materials, as it were, to work with. Or even nice out-of-the-camera JPEGs.

    When you compare this to other photos you like better, the most likely difference isn't the post-processing skills of the shooter, but the time of day and available lighting that the other shooter chose.
  12. kinlau

    kinlau Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 29, 2012
    Try crushing the blacks. Bring up the 'Levels' tool, and slide the black point to the right until you get the desired effect. The sky will get darker, but not near as much as the church.
  13. Phil66

    Phil66 Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 27, 2011
    I've jsut downloaded the trial of Lightzone but I can't see any images when I select a folder. It says that it has loaded images, and if I click into the area where they should be it does show that it is opening an image but I can't see what is there. I can see the image in a little square near the top left but that's about it.

    Any ideas?
  14. phl0wtography

    phl0wtography Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 15, 2011
    First picture looks fine to me as a start. The situation calls for applied "Zone System". Spot meter the subject you want to expose "right" (Zone 5), and work from there. Sky is about a Zone 7-8 and the church maybe a 4 (because your meter averaged the scene). So, you could push the exposure another stop in e.g. Lightroom and recover the highlights (not too much as it will grey out the sky) and then shift the blackpoint to the left.
    With LR4 and its superior .RW2 handling, you could open the shadows quite a bit to get more detail in the foreground and the church, while retaining the IMO fine sky (it is a backlit situation after all, no need to disguise that in post).
    Another thing to note is, that highlights are recovered quite a bit when printing.
    Also remember to always shoot RAW in such high contrast situations to get the most DR out of your camera.
    Third but not least, when ETTR keep in mind that your camera's histogram is based on the JPEG preview that has quite a bit less DR than raw, meaning you can well blow the highlights (maybe by +2/3 of a stop) and still end up with plenty of detail in the RAW file. So even if your preview's highlights flash like crazy doesn't mean they are blown in the RAW. It's a matter of experience with every digital camera.

    Oh, and what c5karl said about light! Don't rush shots, take your time, come back another hour, day, season. When the light is not right, it's just not right, and it shows in PP.
  15. Kees

    Kees Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 30, 2011
    The Netherlands
    Kees Dignum
    If you click on the [folders] tab on the left side of your window (the vertical tab) you can select the folder with your picture. It must be a JPG to show mind you.
    Select the right picture (the pic with the dark church).
    Click on [edit] in the top left hand corner (horizontal tab).
    Select in the toolbar on the left one of the HDR options (Dark Scene works pretty well in my opinion).

    Does this help?
  16. I tried the demo of LightZone years ago, and was impressed, but somehow thought it had disappeared. Is it still around?
  17. Phil66

    Phil66 Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 27, 2011
    The thing is I need to learn how to get the best in that particular time. As it happens, this was just a test shot that I saw as I was gatting into the car. I knew it would give problems that's the only reason I took it. Very often I don't get chance to go back to a scene later on as I don't really go out on pure photo shoots, I am usually visiting a town or stately home and have to take the pics there and then.

    Thanks for all of your help.

  18. Kees

    Kees Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 30, 2011
    The Netherlands
    Kees Dignum
    Yes. The company's name is Lightcrafts.
    I've been using it for over a year now. It's superior in correcting uneven lighting, dark shadows, harsh light etc. in your pictures. It has a very handy tool for selecting areas in your picture with similar light intensity, which I find very useful sometimes. It can do a lot more, but that is what I use most.
  19. addieleman

    addieleman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 5, 2010
    The Netherlands
    One of the things I have learned the hard way is that in photography you have to be dedicated to get the picture right. That means indeed being there when the light is right. I have tons of pictures that were taken in passing like you describe and only a very few of them are worth looking at; almost all of them are just plainly substandard. The pics with a white, almost featureless sky are the overwhelming majority in my collection of holiday snaps and that hardly ever works, although I must say LR4 does a remarkable job in making something out of them, sometimes.

    My best pictures come from dedicated photo trips when the light is interesting and you better have an idea where to go to when that happens. The way you describe it is the way to get frustrated about the results you get. These days I hardly take a camera with me when I go do something else, it just produces another bunch of mediocre pics.
    • Like Like x 1
  20. Just Jim

    Just Jim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 20, 2011
    I think you need to get an external spot sensor for what you are trying to do. This is a similiar situation you were in last thread. The quicker you can rely on your Manual setting over Av or Tv, the more control you'll have over your shots. Granted I know they can be a bit pricey for what they are, but I'd suggest a vintage analog soligor spot II, you can find working ones for $100-$150 which is a good price, get close to $200 I'd suggest a minolta or a pentax.

    Although, without one I would put your camera on spot metering, camera to full manual, meter around the scene for the elements you want and if you get a huge difference try to hone in on the range you want to catch. I like to err more on the underexsposure side because you just can't get that information back in pp, or just wait till the light changes and comes within an acceptable range for the scene you want. HDR is an option, however you'll have to invest in a tripod/monopod/software solution which can be more than the meter and can yield some seriously funky results that can be pretty bad, or pretty good...

    I'd seriouisly think about the sensor though, fantastic learning tool especially when difficult situations arise...
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