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07-21-2014, 06:18 AM   #1
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Bright trees and white sky or dark trees and blue sky?

When taking a photo of landscape with a camera or a lens that doesn't allow filters, is there anyway to achieve the correct exposure of both the sky and the landscape? It seems the choice is always picking between having bright trees and a white sky or dark trees and a blue sky. Is there a setting on the camera that will help or must it be taken care of in post processing? If post processing is the only option, which should have the proper exposure when taking the photo?

07-21-2014, 06:25 AM   #2
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This is what HDR is meant for - the low-intensity version.

If post-processing, favor the bright areas, the camera has a lot of data recording with underexposure but not overexposure. Then in Lightroom or whatever you can bring up the shadows, or however the program recognizes underexposed areas.
07-21-2014, 08:54 AM   #3
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I'm aware of several "trees and sky" options". I realize the OP said without filters, but I'm going to briefly mention them for the sake of completeness.
  1. Circular polarizer (CPL) filter. Sometimes impractical with wide angle lenses due to uneven darkening of the sky.
  2. Graduated neutral density (GND) filter.
  3. High Dynamic Range (HDR). Can be done in-camera with every Pentax DSLR going back at least as far as the K-r. Can also be done later during processing. Regardless of when it's done, a tripod is highly recommended.
  4. Software GND. Lightroom (or other processing software) can darken the upper half of an image.
  5. Lighten the shadows. Expose for the blue sky, then lighten the shadows later during processing. Or, if you notice the shadows are very dark and you don't want to add too much noise in the shadows, maybe slightly overexpose the sky then dim the sky a little while brightening the dark trees.
  6. Selective color adjustments. Go to Lightroom's hue/saturation/luminance (HSL) panel and decrease luminance of the blue sky, or if blue is already at a good point you might want to increase the luminance of green trees. This takes less than 30 seconds once you know where to find the function. It won't work on all scenes, though, depending on how much blue or green is in other parts of the image.
For maximum flexibility to apply 5 or 6 later, I always shoot in raw rather than jpeg.
07-21-2014, 09:12 AM   #4
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One more method is to take several exposures on a tripod. Erase the blown out areas of the bright image in photoshop, and have the darker layer underneath show through. This isn't exactly like HDR because you are actually cutting out parts. I've seen it done to great effect.

07-21-2014, 09:26 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Newtophotos Quote
must it be taken care of in post processing?
Yes
QuoteOriginally posted by Newtophotos Quote
If post processing is the only option, which should have the proper exposure when taking the photo?
Assuming a RAW file expose for the highlights (spot meter on the highlights) and normalize (bring up) shadows in PP.
NOTE:ideally push the highlights as far to the right as you can without overexposing (ETTR).

The whole purpose of this is not to try and get a proper exposure in camera but to expose for maximum editable data in the file to be normalized later in PP. Ideally you are exposing for the most optimum use of the sensor's DR.

Last edited by wildman; 07-21-2014 at 09:55 AM.
07-22-2014, 05:21 PM   #6
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Thank you for the feedback everyone. I've never tried HDR on my K30 before. I'll try that and remember for the future to properly exposure the sky and underexpose the landscape so that I can fix it in post processing.
10-22-2014, 09:44 PM   #7
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Hmmm, this may have answered the question I just posted.
11-02-2014, 05:36 PM   #8
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I am also interested in this topic. So far, what I do is to take photos at such angles, to avoid the sky showing through the branches. Or using ETTR (exposing to the right, watching out not to clip too many highlights)and then use a mix of shadow correction and highlight correction.
Mostly I'm posting in this thread to subscribe, am interested in more ideas

11-06-2014, 09:28 AM   #9
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One important thing IMO for landscape photography is to choose the best time of day. Mornings and late afternoon usually has most interesting light and also lower dynamic range than middle of the day.
11-10-2014, 08:11 PM   #10
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Sometimes just using the widest exposure meter setting can do it.
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