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As you can see from the photo, the sky looks washed out. If I had expose for the sky, the rest of the photo may have been overexpose. How would you have shot this to get a good exposure?
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I would have used a nd grad filter to even the exposure out and a polariser to reduce the glare in the reflection. Taking separate exposures for the foreground and sky then blending them in hdr software is another option.
As you are asking about a 'good exposure', I won't suggest the option of taking two exposures (one for the sky and one for the ground), and then merging in Photoshop)
Instead, I would use an ND grad filter to balance the exposure.
For this shot, you will need a grad with a 'soft' transition. Place the filter at an angle so that 'grad' part is over the sky. Unfortunately this will darken some of the cliff face as well, but with the soft grad, hopefully this will not look too obvious. It a case of making the best compromise.
Its difficult to say the strength of grad you will need for this shot without being there, but at first guess I would say a 0.6 ND (2 stop)
Tell me something, could I have expose for both the highlights and the shadows, then merge the two in Photoshop with a black & white gradient?
I do not own any ND grad filters, but I do have a polarizing filter. Maybe that's something I have to look into.
You could, but you may as well use 2 layers in PS, a mask, and paint the correctly exposed sky into the correctly exposed foreground? Will take some paying to get a balance that doesn't look artificial....
Talking about your example, it is in fact impossible to expose the entire photograph correctly in a single exposure even using a ND filter.
The ND filter will certainly help and will largely 'solve' the problem but because your 'bright' area is of an odd shape, an ND filter will inevitably affect some areas you do not wish to be affected and/or not affect areas you do. If you use a ND filter, you will need to cover the entire over-exposed area which will cause overlap on the hills and therefore you will then need to bring out detail in the shadow area of the hill in computer. This is likely to cause excessive noise in those areas which is not really desirable. You'll need to try it to see if you can get away with it.
The only 'precise' way of obtaining an end image where all the tones are in balance and where overall contrast and exposure is in balance, is to do what was suggested earlier and take two or more images and blend them together. I'd recommend three exposures, one for the highlights, one for mid-tomes and the third for the shadow areas.
There are many ways of doing the blending; you can use layers and layer masks or commonly these days, you use HDR software to handle it for you (HDR software can be used to make quite dramatic effects but is also useful to blend variations of the same image taken at different exposures but leaving the resulting image looking 'natural'). In most cases, the exposures will need to be taken on a tripod to ensure perfect alignment of the various images.
Just one more option...
Bring the exposure down a tad and shoot RAW. Then do some recovery of the "blown" highlights. If they are truly blown this may not help, but sometimes you can get a good amount back if exposure is close.
Other silly options...
- Use the ND grad slanted. It will cause some of the rocks, trees and mountain side to also become dark, but they may blend in well with the shadow over on the right.
My options in order,
1. Plan to Photoshop it and take sufficient photos to get the necessary range. (you know this will work)
2. ND - if you had one (at least you can try and see how it works on site).
3. Shoot RAW and hope for the best when you get back home. (you cannot view in camera if RAW highlight recovery will work, so you're SOL if you get home and find it didn't do the job)
Or the easy way, colour control point in capture nx2 on sky both the blue and clouds. Job done!
Thanks guys for all your comments. I think the best way is BarrieNeil's way with 3 exposures and then blend in Photomatix and create an HDR.
I tried doing another shot I took but this time creating an HDR with 3 exposures. Here's what it looked like at first.
Then, I brought out some detail in the shadow area and this is what it looks like now. (See below)
What do you think guys?
great shot almost looks natural, or it could just be my old screen anyway well done.
I was going to suggest from your original post, use hdr. If the DRange exceeds what the camera can handle, (histograms) then hdr all the way for me Your last posted images demonstates this wonderfully.
The 1st shot looks as if your shooting into the sun (shadow of mountain visible) which will increase shadows and hightlights - initially i'd try for another time of day. Then add the grads etc recommended above.
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