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Century lakes

By Wireworkzzz  
I am having major problems with sky and water. If I take exposure down a few stops it doesn't have any effect on the sky or the water and only makes the foreground too dark. Taken at 6pm and sunset is at 6-20pm so I should be getting some nice light. I,m having the same trouble in daylight. I try shifting positions but I get the same thing happening. I tried a lot of different shutter speeds as well. I have a UV filter. I have done no editing at all to this photo.

Tags: Lakes Dusk Landscape and travel Foot Bridges

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Tish1 Plus
8 32 5 United Kingdom
22 Nov 2016 7:55AM
This can be a difficult issue and one most of us have faced.

In this image it appears that you have exposed for the land and as such the sky has lost all detail; had you exposed for the sky, as you mentioned, the land appears too dark.

One possible solution is a filter, a graduated nuetral density filter

Another solution is to use a technique called 'bracketing'; some cameras have a bracketing function and some cameras do not, if your camera does not have a bracketing function it is possible to bracket manually. it is best to use a tripod when bracketing and the basic principle is to take three images one slightly under exposed, one perfectly exposed and one slightly over exposed and then blend the images that give you the best result for each section of the image.

I hope this helps

paulbroad 13 131 1290 United Kingdom
22 Nov 2016 8:05AM
Tish has good advice above. You are trying to get the camera to do what it cannot on it's own. The same applied to film. The tonal range is too great for the sensor to handle. Filters or combining exposures in software, or even the technique known as HDR - Google it- will solve the problem but all require planning and extra work.

The only way in camera is to expose for the highlights. The sky, the water. This gets detail in them with very dark shadows. You then use software to lighten the shadows by masking or try the dodge tool. The problem you have is nothing new and goes back to the beginning of photography.

By the way, you must straighten the horizon in such images. Again, easy in software, but best done when shooting.

mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.5k 2343 United Kingdom
22 Nov 2016 8:55AM
First, with reference to getting the image level - remember that a reflection always drops straight down from its subject, whatever angle it is viewed from. (Although short focal length will generally cause some distortion of verticals towards the sides of the frame.)

The only advice that I would add to Tish and Paul's is to also consider shooting Raw files, if you do not already do so.

Camera Raw (it's a word not an acronym) really does what it says on the can; it records all the raw data available to the camera, 100%, without editing. With JPEGs, the camera's 'brain' automatically selects the data that it thinks is important, a relatively small proportion of the total, it edits for you. You have no way of getting at the rest of the data, it hasn't been recorded.

In nice, balanced, gentle light this can be fine. But as soon as you hit harsh light, or strong contrasts of light and dark as here, JPEGs lose out massively.

Working on a Raw file gives a lot of options that aren't available for a JPEG – you can vary white balance as though the camera had been pre-set, similarly sharpness; you can vary exposure. You can retrieve data from overexposed and underexposed areas. That's just a tiny fraction of what's available, but perhaps the most important elements. When you first open Raw files they can look quite flat and dull, but the scope for improvement is amazing.

There are a few downsides. Raw means you have got to process – think of the file as a film that needs to be developed. The files are much bigger, they take up more space on your memory card and hard drive. You still need to make JPEG copies of the processed files for easy viewing, emailing, uploading to the internet. And you may not be able to open Raw files in software that pre-dates your camera.

It's quite a steep learning curve but well worth it.
Thanks Tish
I think I might try a neutral density filter although I have made some enquiries and no one seems to have any 37mm ones. I may have to use a bigger lens, 40 to 150mm as it has 58mm filters.
I have used bracketed several times but never thought about blending. I will check ephotozine tutorials to see how to do it.
It's a relief to know that this is a real problem and not just me making mistakes with my settings.
Hi Paul
I will definitely check out HDR. I've never used the dodge too so I will give that a try too. I usually do straighten the horizon but I didn't do any editing at all so forgot about it. Thanks for the tips.
Hi Moira
I've never shot in RAW but I have heard of it. It sounds like a great idea. I 'm going to be very busy with all these new things to learn. I will try RAW for sure. Thanks for your advice.
mrswoolybill Plus
14 2.5k 2343 United Kingdom
22 Nov 2016 10:54AM
Thanks for great feedback Rae, it's always reassuring to know that someone is reading what we type...

Regarding the dodge tool, the apparently obvious choice for a dark area is to set it to shadows (There's the choice of shadows, midtones, highlights). But it can be very useful to set to highlights, very large brush size, very low exposure -say 3% or 4% (like the burn tool, it's extremely powerful ). Then work gently over the area in question. Maybe try dodging midtones at 2% exposure. It can bring out detail without causing the flat 2-D look and the noise that dodging shadows tends to create.

Tish1 Plus
8 32 5 United Kingdom
22 Nov 2016 1:43PM

Quote:Thanks Tish
I think I might try a neutral density filter although I have made some enquiries and no one seems to have any 37mm ones. I may have to use a bigger lens, 40 to 150mm as it has 58mm filters.
I have used bracketed several times but never thought about blending. I will check ephotozine tutorials to see how to do it.
It's a relief to know that this is a real problem and not just me making mistakes with my settings.

For landscapes a 28mm lens is ideal; my 28mm has a 52mm diameter; before you start investing in ND filters, try a CPL [Circular Polorising Lens] which tend to be cheaper and easier to get hold of in terms of lens diameters. Also you can purchase 'Step Up' rings, which are a series of rings that can be attached to your lens so that you can fit a larger filter on. Very useful for getting the most use out of filters on different lenses. Ebay is a great source for economically priced accessories, buy the best you can afford at the time, even if it is the cheapest because you learn how to use them and then put things on your Christmas list.

Once I switched to RAW I have never looked back; it reatains so much more detail; I thought that I had become a significantly better photographer over night Grin

Never be afraid to ask, especially on this site, nobody was born with a camera in their hand [not yet at least] and even the most seasoned photographers are still learning. Once you think you have learnt a lot, go back to basics, you will be surprised how much you forget and just how important the basics are.

Thank you for your feed back; I am still relatively new at this photography business myself

banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4200 Canada
22 Nov 2016 3:38PM
In additio to al the good feecback above:

Look up your manual and find Independent Shadow and Highlight control.

Read how to use it, and it can reduce highlights and lift shadows in camera by 7 stops either way. I believe the functions may be called Gradations.


Thank you all for your great advice. Without it I would be just muddling along blindly with my fingers crossed, hoping that I might get good results.
dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1774 England
23 Nov 2016 6:05PM
Tish's advice is to use a GRADUATED neutral density filter - a square of plastic or glass that is tinted at the top, clear at the bottom. Not the same thing as a neutral density filter, and will use a separate adaptor, which is very likely to be available to fit your lens. The page i've linked to illustrates this well - but not that (as they say) other brands are available!

The challenge you have here is that the range of dark and light is extreme - deep evening shadows, and bright sky. Looking at it with yoru eye, as you view the sky, your eye and brain darken it down: as you look at the shadows, they brighten the image, and what you think yo usee is a combination, constantly refreshed as yoru eye flickers around hte scene. Cameras simply aren't that clever.

A tripod and multiple exposures will take you into both blending of the images, and HDR processing, if you want. To avoid the different exposures havign different depth of field, use Aperture prioirty, not Shutter. (I'd advise this anyway, for almost anything, myself. Others differ, but control of aperture goes with control of focus, and control is defintiely the name of the game.
Thanks Dudler
I prefer to use aperture mode. I only used shutter priority because that's what everyone says to do in low light. I assumed if I am shooting the hour before sunset in low light I had to use shutter mode. I guess if I use aperture mode the shutter speed gets set automatically so it won't be a problem unless it gets too dark.
Just a note to let you know that I appreciate the links you give me and I always take a look at each one. After each critique I need to allow a few weeks to sift through all the information I am receiving. And, thanks for the modifications, I always find them very helpful.
Thanks Willie
Just checked out graduation on my camera and was amazed at all the different graduations. I will certainly give them a try.
dudler Plus
17 1.4k 1774 England
25 Nov 2016 12:37PM
Rae - no, don't do that!

In low light, you need to keep an eye on shutter speed, to make sure it doesn't fall too low, but otherwise, Aperture priority continues to be a good way to shoot. Conversely, if you use Shutter priority, you need to keep an eye on aperture, all the time.

The thing about some of the things 'everyone says' is that they are not universally true, or indeed true at all. I mean, common wisdom in parts of the USA was that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and a Muslim... Both utterly untrue.
Thanks Dudler for making sure I have got it right with the low light and shutter speed.

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