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03-15-2015, 05:12 PM   #1
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Exposure help

Still getting know my way around the K50 and properly exposing pictures in general. In my short time with it so far, I feel like my subjects are always underexposed while the backgrounds are getting blown out. To be fair, I am shooting in very bright sunlight and subjects tend to be in shadow. I make adjustments, but the best I get is closer to what my eyes see, but not satisfactory. Could I get some advice on how I could improve my results?

Below is a test shot showing a typical problem. Background bright (though at least not blown out), trees in shadow. Tree trunk, branches and leaves are far darker than what it really looked like. Not sure where that dramatic lighting towards the bottom of the tree came from. Seems like everything got exaggerated instead of... more gradual? Beyond other basic things, perhaps a setting like metering mode or something else should be chosen better? Any advice or suggestions are appreciated. Thanks!

(Raw image converted to jpeg then resized with no other adjustments. Wasn't sure how exactly best to convert or attach image. Please let me know if there is a better way so it can be properly evaluated. Thank you!)



03-15-2015, 05:55 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Zerv Quote
Still getting know my way around the K50 and properly exposing pictures in general. In my short time with it so far, I feel like my subjects are always underexposed while the backgrounds are getting blown out. To be fair, I am shooting in very bright sunlight and subjects tend to be in shadow. I make adjustments, but the best I get is closer to what my eyes see, but not satisfactory. Could I get some advice on how I could improve my results?

Below is a test shot showing a typical problem. Background bright (though at least not blown out), trees in shadow. Tree trunk, branches and leaves are far darker than what it really looked like. Not sure where that dramatic lighting towards the bottom of the tree came from. Seems like everything got exaggerated instead of... more gradual? Beyond other basic things, perhaps a setting like metering mode or something else should be chosen better? Any advice or suggestions are appreciated. Thanks!

(Raw image converted to jpeg then resized with no other adjustments. Wasn't sure how exactly best to convert or attach image. Please let me know if there is a better way so it can be properly evaluated. Thank you!)
What you're seeing is the limits of modern dynamic range. The camera's sensor can't capture what our eyes can. There are a few ways to deal with this. The first way is to shoot 3 exposures - one exposed for the shadows, one exposed for the highlights, and one in-between - and combine them in software that will tone-map each for you. This is what's referred to as HDR photography (where HDR is high dynamic range).

Another way is to make sure you shoot in RAW and bring up the shadows and bring down the highlights in post-processing. This is what I do. That said, once you blow the highlights or clip the blacks, you've lost the detail in those sections.

The third way is to avoid shots like that or to just adjust your expectations. I think your shot is pretty spectacular as is, and while post-processing can get you more detail, particularly out of the shadows, it's very easy to over-do it and end up with a fake-looking image.
03-15-2015, 09:53 PM   #3
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When out in the bright sun or shooting a subject which has bright light behind it, you'd be surprised how well even the on board flash can help to add light where you need it..

Failing that, bringing up the shadows in post is the common way to process such pics. Even the free FASTSTONE can do amazing things with JPGs...
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03-16-2015, 02:30 PM   #4
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K McCall - Thanks for the thoughts and suggestions. Too bad you can only get the camera to shoot an HDR sequence in JPEG and not RAW. I will though keep in mind shooting different exposures if there is a particular image I want to get the most out of. And speaking of RAW, since getting this camera, I've decided I'm only shooting in RAW. I almost never share or do anything with my pictures until I do post processing of some sort, so shooting in JPEG will only limit my options and isn't any more convenient for me. The only major thing I have to do is adjust my sense of the image when previewing on camera. I have to look at it's potential rather than judge it right away. As long as it's not too overblown or too dark, I need to view it as an unfinished product and set my expectations from there. Thanks for the reminder.

Steve.L - Thank you, I will definitely start using flash to try and overcome some extreme situations. I'm not used to thinking about the flash when out in bright daylight but it really is something I need to do. Combined with learning how to best expose the image, I'm guessing this will improve my pictures greatly. And I appreciate showing me that view of my image. It's amazing to see the details in the shadows come out. I don't have Lightroom or anything on that level yet, but I'm trying to make due with the tools I have on hand or that I can get free/inexpensively for now. Well, I do have Photoshop but I honestly am done with editing on that unless it is worth it. And it hardly ever is, at least in my personal situation.

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